>Strange things are afoot at the Circle K*

>*Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

As Bill and Ted would say, things are most bogus and non-triumphant at Rust Belt U these days, my friends. There is chaos at the top and it’s pretty much unbloggable, especially since my tenure file still sits in the Provost’s office, now weeks overdue for a decision. I’m actually thinking of alternative careers because the atmosphere here is so demoralizing.

This is partly why you haven’t had a substantive post from me in awhile. The other reason is Pippi, who is utterly time-consuming in the most wonderful ways. I could write more, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want more “why my dog rocks” posts, unless it’s Friday dog blogging. But I will say that those alternative careers I’ve been thinking about include animal-related ones, though I had thoughts about such things long before Pippi. Once upon a time I wanted to be a zoologist, but I got frustrated with basic level science, even though I was good at it, because I wanted to move on to the Big Questions, but you don’t really get to do that at the undergrad level very much in the sciences. And I wouldn’t even get to the zoology part until graduate school. But now I’m day-dreaming about doing those basic science classes so I can get into Vet school. The one in our state has a joint DVM-PhD program, and I’m thinking about the areas I was once interested in in zoology — animal behavior, in particular — but now in more pragmatic terms of the behavior and well-being of domestic and/or zoo animals. The joint program would allow me to be a practitioner-researcher, and open faculty positions as an option, too. Imagine having options! Imagine having a range of possible careers! I could even teach a class on medieval bestiaries and animal fables to DVM students — and I’d bring Karl in as a guest lecturer! (Well, I suppose I could do that now, except we don’t have a Vet school at RBU.)

But that’s all a daydream at the moment. And really, do I want many more years of school on top of the ones I’ve already spent? Really? (Though if I did it, I might start a new blog called Doctor Doctor Doctor Virago. Hee!)

But back to our most bogus adventures at RBU…I’m trying to work out ways to talk about it, because I want to do so in response to Tenured Radical‘s call to replace tenure with unionization. The long and short of it is, at our university at the moment, if we had only 5-year contracts and a union, instead of having a tenure system *and* a union, we’d be totally screwed. Well, those of us not in the applied sciences and professional schools would, anyway, and I’d already be working on my pre-vet pre-reqs because I probably wouldn’t have a job for next year. Seriously.

(Btw, Pippi proofread this post. She tried to get in my lap, stared intently at the screen, and then got down.)


11 thoughts on “>Strange things are afoot at the Circle K*

  1. >Hell, I’d be happy just to come in and hang out with your dog. Not sure I could get reimbursed for that though….Looking forward to hearing about your travails at Kzoo, although I hope things improve before then. Sounds doubtful though. But, as you surely know, not every school is awful, although, yeah, I’ve been working without a union contract pretty much since I got here. Would that state employees in NYC could go on strike…

  2. >Sorry to hear that things are so frustrating! I’m rapidly beginning to think that the whole tenure/university labor system is so FUBAR that it’s not worth it. It’s like, when the system works, it’s all lovely, but it’s so context (president/board of trustees/department/institution) dependent – if the system depends on having sane/humane people in charge, it’s not necessarily a very good system… Anyway, I like hearing about alternate careers any day!

  3. >So sorry to hear about dysfunctional doings at RBU. But yes, I agree with you that TR’s context makes it possible for her to imagine no tenure as a positive option. I haven’t been hearing lots of cheers for the no-tenure system at Bennington.And, as I’ve said elsewhere, as someone on a one year contract (reneweing) I don’t trust it for a minute.Meanwhile, thank goodness you have Pippi to help you proofread. My cat used to help me prepare lectures, and she’d always agree with me when I discussed my choices with her.

  4. >Too New: pre-tenure faculty are hired on a contact basis. Many places use a three-year contract, since that’s half-way to tenure. My U does annual reviews. I actually prefer the latter, since there’s more accountability — yours and theirs — but some people hate the paper work. Normally, with three year contracts, there’s at least some kind of departmental review each year, and ideally, this should tell you how you’re progressing to the the 3rd year review (emphasis on *ideally*).

  5. >Thanks for the explanation Dr V. I was advised not to act like a grad student at the on-campus and contract structures seemed like an area where I might blow my cover, so steered clear. Congrats on the teaching award, and I wish you could say more about what’s going on at RBU and whether it’s systemic or situated. I’m distracting myself from the dissertation by imagining worst case scenarios in my future…but I understand the need for vagary.

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