Service obligations attack!


Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I’ve rarely overtly turned down service opportunities, but I’ve been able to finesse my way out a number of times.

That good run just came to a screeching halt.

Now, you may call me Senator McGlynn. I think they give us rings that our subjects may kiss.

There are different ways of taking shared governance seriously. On my campus, that is manifested with meetings every other week, for about two hours.

I’ve sat in on a couple of these meetings in the past. They have been about 42% self-aggrandizing blather by a small number of people, and 50% chiming in to affirm the importance of the blathering, accentuated with 3% of stuff that actually matters. I’ll have to go there often enough to catch that 3%. (The remaining five percent is the discussion of Sternly Worded Letters in the form of Senate Resolutions.)

Why did I agree to this momentous time suck? My department has lost so many people, and had no hires in so long, that we’re almost down to negative tenure-line faculty members. The other people in my department also have plenty of unsavory service duties and if I turned this down, then it’d be unfair to my colleagues, and I wouldn’t be pulling my share. If I said no, I’d be kind-of a jerk, if not a kind of jerk. Not a kind jerk, surely.

There is also an upside to taking this on. In the last few months, the stars have aligned and my Dean, Provost and President are all openly supportive of research and the mentorship of student researchers. I mean, they are so supportive that they’re actually putting money in that direction. There are probably some recalcitrant faculty that won’t want resources (especially reassigned time) going to research, and they might mount a last stand in the Senate. It would be handy to be there when it happens, even if the guy who runs the Senate is the biggest advocate (and example) for faculty research on campus.

I’ve been spoiled for years now, by not having to go to these kinds of meetings like I used to have to go to on a monthly basis at my old job. This time, I’ll have the wisdom to not ever attempt to reason with the unreasonable. The bottom line is that I’m very pleased that there are faculty who are heartily fighting the good fight to have control over our own university and our own curriculum. They are the ones protecting our students from administrative forces that want to push our students out of our classrooms and into online courses, and they are the ones that are fighting to keep the the campus from devolving into a career tech institute. What happens in Senate is important. I just wish I didn’t have this little part-time job in the sausage factory. But I’ve been eating the sausage for years, so it’s time I did my share.

If this is all I have to complain about this week, then life ain’t so bad.