Sunday, May 11, 2008

Long Strange Summer (Gripe Session)

At the first university where I worked as a professor, summer pay was good and professors generally taught two summer courses. Then summer pay started getting worse and summer courses were limited.

At my second university, summer pay was lousy. So I took the whole summer off. I gave up a bit of income, but gained a lot of family time.

At my current university, summer pay is excellent. But the administrative bureaucracy harbors strange ideas about summer schedules. So I have been asked to teach one course during each summer session. This gives me zero time to take a vacation with the family. By the time I am done working, the kids will be back in school.

I am moving within the city this summer, though, so money will come in handy. I cannot afford to teach only one course. So this summer will be a long, sad grind. I will have to paste a smile on and force myself to be enthusiastic for my students.

I tried to correct the administration's strange ideas last summer. One administrator, in particular, has the idea that students want to take a particular combination of courses to knock out some much-needed requirements. And this combination of courses guarantees that I cannot have my preferred schedule. I'll call this combination of courses "the knock-out option."

Last summer, after teaching a combination of courses that I did not enjoy, I checked and found that of my fifty students, two were using the knock-out option. Then I checked those two students' fall registrations. The first student took zero courses in the fall for which the knock-out option would help. The second student did take courses for which the knock-out option would help, but had about eighteen hours of sophomore courses that he could have taken--and that advisors always strongly suggest that the student take first. So the administrators would have preferred that he take courses that made his knock-out option irrelevant.

Hence, I had gathered data that showed that sticking me with a course assignment that I did not want ended up benefitting zero students. But some administrators are not impressed by evidence. After all, they have their preconceived notions, in which the world works so much better. I will do more research after this summer and see if anyone benefitted by the knockout option and, if not, present this evidence. It probably won't help, though.

None of this would be necessary if the university just did not pay so well for summer courses! I am trapped by abundance!

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