Keeping up, hanging on

Having just been tapped to take over as Grievance chair next year, our president and office manager have begun funneling requests for help/advice to me.  Yesterday there were two, and I’m already beginning to sense just how busy things are going to be.  Without revealing details I shouldn’t, and to show how Orwellian things can be…  

One of the questions was about hiring policy.  According to our CBA, when a candidate has successfully completed the interview process and has been vetted, departments’ full-time faculty have to vote on whether to offer the position.  There are exclusions from the vote for faculty who are related in various to ways to candidates, but otherwise, everybody votes (including the department chair, who’s defined by the CBA as faculty).  It gets confusing later in the CBA article, though, when the article stipulates that the department chair ALSO gets a hiring recommendation separate from his/her vote with the faculty.  The problem is that the contract says the chair forwards the department’s recommendation along with his/her own, but doesn’t say in between that he/she writes her own. 

Making it a bit more complicated, our department has–in anybody’s memory–never had a chair override or recommend differently from the department vote, which is probably why I had no idea the chair even got a separate recommendation.  So I had to spend an hour or so, running around my building, canvassing other department chairs to see how they interpreted the article.  Turns out that, in a rare moment, the CBA means what it says (hooray!).  I, personally, don’t have a problem with the chair getting two inputs. 

I can also understand, already, why it is that other Grievance officers can cite the CBA chapter and verse from memory.  The other inquiry I had yesterday was answered directly in one of the articles, which I just had happened not to look at at first.  So I felt kinda dopey when I asked somebody who knew off the top of his head.  This too shalt pass :). 

The bad news from yesterday was my discovery that one of my comp classes hasn’t been doing its homework, either the readings assigned for class (which makes discussions kinda tricky) or the secondary research for their papers.  Balancing flexibility with letting classes get away with things is the central tension of my teaching life.  They’re probably lucky that it’s late in the semester and I’m as burned out as they are; losing my temper doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s not pretty.  So I partronized them for a few minutes but then got on with other work.  Very low expectation on my part that they’ll get back on the ball until the last minute, but I do have some confidence that they will by then. 

Loving what my graduate students are doing in the Capstone course.  They’ve all been so on-the-verge-of-panicked all semester, and now that their work is coming to some kind of fruition, it’s really cool.  Of course there’s no way they could have foreseen it, even though I told them this would happen.  It’s very exciting. 

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