Saturday, June 19, 2021

Waiting and Searching

 We're doing two searches right now for short term positions.  One of those searches has a large enough pool or really good people that we should be able to draw on those candidates to hire to fill in, temporarily, for the faculty member who's resigning.

Good news:  The deanling office came up with a legal way to cover the health insurance of the folks who want are resigning so that they can put in their resignation now, but still be covered.  (And that will mean we can hire someone to replace them from the pool I mentioned above.)

The bad news:  the paperwork to do that legal coverage has been waiting on an administrator's desk most of a week.

Good news:  We did interviews and I did the paperwork for the hiring we have permission for last Friday, and the deanling in charge signed off his part on Monday morning, and it went to the campus lawyer for approval.

The bad news:  the lawyer sat on it.  I emailed Thursday to ask if there were a problem, and the lawyer emailed back basically saying "oops" and that they'd get to it.  They got to it later Thursday.  And it went to HR.

Good news:  We did interviews for the other position, and I did the paperwork for the hiring on Monday, and sent it off to the deanling.

The bad news:  the deanling didn't sign off on it until Thursday afternoon.  And then it went to the lawyer.  And just in case, I emailed the lawyer on Friday morning, and they're out of town until next week.

Good news:  HR did the paperwork and sent it back to the lawyer (I don't know why): this was also part of my email on Friday.

The bad news: yeah, the lawyer is out of town until next week.

I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to get administrators to do their administrative thing, or waiting for them.  Yes, I know they're busy.  But if I didn't respond to their request for whatever in a timely manner, they'd be pissed as hell and I'd hear about it from the Dean.

Also: all the tagging of electronic forms through various administrative offices is frustrating.  I'm guessing it's important to have the lawyer look at the forms and make sure they're legal and won't get us sued.  But damn...

The thing is, I can't do the second round of paperwork, the one where I get to say "we want to hire candidate X," until the first round is fully approved.  I've already got the paperwork filled out, waiting in my queue, but I can't do anything with it.


A few weeks ago, I borrowed a friend's bike, because I'm thinking of getting a new bike, one I could use for bike camping, and I'm thinking of a Litespeed titanium bike, and my friend has a Litespeed.  So I rode it, and it's a good fit for size.  But her bike has an aggressive geometry, and so feels twitchy compared to mine.

The real revelation was that her saddle is SO much more comfortable than mine.  So now I'm on a quest to find a similar saddle.  The difficulty is that she bought the saddle probably in the 1990s, and that one isn't made any more, and saddles seem different now.

I started by visiting the three local bike shops here in town, and ended up trying two cheap saddles (one from the box of extra saddles that every bike shop ends up with when people change their saddles, the other cheap off the rack).  They weren't an improvement, in different ways.

So then I started searching on line, and found one that might work (from measurements), and looked while I was in California for a shop that carries them to go try them out, without luck.  They just don't seem to be carried.

Then I found a shop a state over, about two hours away, and called, and they said, yes, they had them in stock, and I could come try them out.  So I drove over last weekend, and no, they weren't in stock.  We looked, and I ordered one, and went Thursday to pick it up.  I rode it for 15 miles yesterday (they said I should give it 50 miles to break in), and my sit bones are sore.  There's very little padding, but all the pressure is on my sit bones.  That's good, but...  it's still not close to as comfortable as my friend's saddle.

I think the search continues...

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

It's Never Good to be Asked for a Meeting

That should be rule one of being a chair, perhaps.  Or a corrolary.  Or something.

If someone has something really good to pass along, they give you the basics in an email, even if they want to discuss the next step with you in a meeting.

No colleague says, "I want to have a meeting" and then tells you "I just got this cool publication and I'm super happy."  Nope.  They share the good news and accept everyone's happy congratulations.

No one says, "I want to have a meeting" and then tells you about their wonderful new puppy.  Nope.  They share pictures of the puppy and accept everyone's admiring congratulations.

Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from a colleague asking to meet with me.  I figured, it's one of two things, given the colleague, and neither is great, but neither is beyond horrible either.  And I was right, it was one of the two things, and it means I get to juggle more extra work.  But happily it's not absolutely horrid, either.


I have a colleague who seems to be consistently late when asked to turn in anything mildly administrative.  For example, we ask for copies of syllabi each semester to keep on file.  In a worst case scenario, if someone is killed driving in to work, someone else at least has that as a starting point to finish teaching the course.  In a more usual scenario, in five years when a student is trying to transfer a course for some reason, or get it to mean something for a graduate application, they can contact the office and our staff can easily find it in the files and send it off even if the colleague has retired.  (I've gotten at least three requests for such things this year).

But the colleague who's consistently late with such things.  I'm not sure why.  They're late with another important thing now.  

So I sent an email asking how I could help with the problem, asking if they're okay, and such.  I hope that was a useful approach.  It seems better than getting frustrated with the person.

(The problem with the chronic lateness is that it adds extra work to the load of our office staff, who have to keep asking for the work.  Our office staff are plenty busy and do a good job, and we shouldn't burden them just because we don't care.)


I have another campus leader thing tomorrow for three hours, this one on preparing future leaders.  This is GREAT in theory, but in practice seems really hard.

So I ask:  what should I be doing as chair to help prepare the next and future chairs?  

I've recommended some committee roles to folks who were interested.  If you want to become chair, you should have a pretty good sense of your department's curriculum and how it fits for majors, for GE and such, and for other department majors.  You should also get to know the folks at the college and university level who work on curricular stuff.  So that's good.

Serving as a university senator is good.

(In some ways, I took on a lot of the preparatory roles without thinking of them in that way, and just happened to be reasonably well prepared for most things.  

But how do you help someone prepare for budget stuff?