Friday, January 14

Deflation Due to Lack of Information


My day started OK. A full day to finish two syllabi and get copies made for my 0800 class on Monday. I had a plan. I was focused. Nothing could get in my way...

Interruption #1: EMS call for 94 female with injuries from a fall (maybe syncopal episode secondary to dehydration?). The students are starting to be around, so I had mentally been prepared for the day to be covered by them (it has been a long five weeks with them gone). Just me and a medic (our driver didn’t even show), so I had to go and I drove. Hour gone.

Interruption #2: I got a curt e-mail from the Associate Dean who was upset that an adjunct faculty member teaching a class in my program was just now coming to her attention (the person gave her a ring asking where his hiring letter and pay information was). The Dean made it clear that in the future I need to run any “teaching for cash” people in my program past her first. We sometimes use adjunct faculty to teach a class here or there, and the funds come from her office. A reasonable request, to be sure.

The problem, from my perspective, was that I had no idea I had hired someone from the outside. It turns out that I did, but purely due to my ignorance and some lack of communication and oversight.

Ignorance: In planning classes for this semester, I took course projections that had been made before I was appointed and had an administrative assistant contact those people and ask them if they still planned on teaching in the program. Turns out one of the people on the projection list had been a regular faculty member but now isn’t. It just never occurred to me that I should check to make sure people saying “yes, I plan to teach” are indeed employed by us. I just assumed (ouch!) that someone who no longer works for the institution would mention that fact when asked if they still plan to teach their class. I would. Most people I know would. I am still ignorant when it comes to how wide a variety of behavior you can see from people.

Lack of Communication: The person who is no longer faculty could have let me know this fact. I could have told the administrative assistant that she should double check the list against the full-time faculty list. I could have been told when I took this position that this is an issue. The person whose place I took could have told me that this guy was an adjunct now.

Lack of Oversight: My list of proposed courses went to my division director in late September and the Associate Dean’s office in early October. The all signed off on my list and didn’t catch that this guy wasn’t a regular employee. They have been doing this for considerably longer than I have, and they clearly didn’t check. If I am expected to check, maybe I could have been told this was one of my duties? I suspect it officially isn’t, as this just can’t happen by accident (though it did, damn it).

I’ve got a pit in my stomach. I hate when preventable mistakes are made. Sure, we have the money to pay the guy. Sure, other people could have kept this from happening. But in the end, I could have kept this from happening and did not. I really respect and like the associate dean, and now she has a data point suggesting I am not doing my job as well as it could be done.

I’d have a beer, but the students still are not on the board so I am the EMT from 1800 to 0600 (and again tomorrow).