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Thursday, June 18, 2015

A "full lid"

That's what C.J. Cregg says when she finishes the last press briefing of the day on The West Wing (which I'm watching on DVD, having missed it back when it was on the air), so I assume the saying applies here, at least metaphorically speaking. I also feel a little like MacArthur leaving the Philippines, though I don't get a gun-boat to climb aboard as I depart: I just have that "I shall return" feeling, that this is a temporary retreat, but I'll be back in the trenches soon.

Which is, in fact, true.

I was in a borderline panic this morning, as I spent longer than anticipated trying to get the ASLE panel organized: making sure everyone (or everyone who has responded so far) is OK with the jazz-session jam format I want to try (yes), that we can meet prior to our session to map out how it will work (even improv needs rehearsal), that I get the brief introduction blurb from each panelist (one so far, of five panelists apart from yours truly--oh, but yeah, I should probably create my own). The time spent on that meant I didn't leave the house until after I had intended to be on campus already--huff, huff, trying to get ahead of my mental cattle prods. But as it happened, I'd done enough work yesterday that there really wasn't much to do today. One bonus, in terms of the scheduling, was that one of our colleagues has decided to retire: Bruce was in a panic that we wouldn't get all our courses covered, but what that meant to me was I could give classes to some people who'd been without. And there are very few courses still unassigned. Bruce is worried that we'll need to hire more adjuncts, but my strong bet is that we'll be canceling enough sections and following enough if-then domino chains ensuring that full-time faculty have full course loads that we won't need all the adjuncts we already have in the pool. I always feel dreadful about not being able to offer courses to the adjuncts at the bottom of the stack--especially as many of them are infinitely better instructors than the folks with tons of seniority (the same being true of the full-time faculty, actually)--but we're constrained by issues of seniority. The issue of qualifications does enter into the distribution, too--and that shows in the courses that are unassigned: ESL-dedicated sections of 001; honors comp; the new 100 course, which includes elements of developmental writing in a credit-bearing course and includes an additional 50 minutes dedicated to time in a writing lab--but which also, as a consequence of its hybrid nature, requires specially qualified faculty; and a few electives, including, as I mentioned, the Science Fiction course.

Speaking of which, Bruce is happy to let me have it if my MDC doesn't run--but we need to make sure that there's someone who can take it if my MDC does run (and honestly, I'll be just as happy either way). So, I have a list of three other faculty members who are qualified to teach the course, and I'm contacting them according to Scheduling rules--one at a time, considering the course rotation and the faculty members' seniority--to see if I can get a back-up. I'm sure one of them will take the offer--and the rest we won't know until the Nth hour in August.

As far as the MDC course, the enrollment has just increased: it went from 0 to 1. The 101s hold steady at 0 and 3. The enrollment for Mystery and Detective fiction continues to climb: I'm up to 21 in that one now, and could get as many as 30 (talk about a full lid--or at least a full classroom: I don't think we can fit 30 desks in that room). The 101 classes have traditionally been capped at 24 students (though they've often been overloaded to up to 28); now they're capped at 27. MDC is capped at 34 for fuck's sake.

And Bruce is worried we won't have enough adjuncts. I'm worried we won't have enough courses even for the adjuncts with the most seniority: with those class sizes, we're not going to run anywhere near as many sections of things as we're used to.

Interesting times.

I had intended to spend some time this afternoon continuing to chip away at the piles of files, but I just can't face it right now. (Oh, Scarlett, how I understand the need to wait to be stronger....) I will, however, try to do at least a little triage on the stacks so I can find my place again, as it were, when I return to the office. Officially, I don't have to be back until I pick up work with Bruce on August 17, but I suspect I'll head in before then to get the 101s nailed down. That reminds me that we still haven't gotten official word on reassigned time, which is more than a bit maddening. I'll leave a note for Bruce about that, see if he can poke the right person to get the authorizations official.

On a more fun note--and you know I always try to end on a good note--it's clear that some colleagues who are retiring have cleaned out their bookshelves by putting anything they don't want to keep on the public shelves, and there actually were some fun titles there, which I snagged and have dragged up here to add to my bookshelf clutter. I'll probably take a few home with me, too, as potential summer reading. So many books, so little time....

And on that note, I'm going to do my bit of triage and head off into the evening, start doing things to help calm my pre-travel jitters. (I'm an heirloom peach: I'm not designed to travel well.) There may well still be the occasional blog post between now and August, but I'm certainly not expecting to write any between now and July 25 at the earliest. I could surprise myself (and you), but it seems unlikely. I'll carry work materials with me, just in case (God forbid I should suddenly have the urge to work and not have the right pieces of paper with me), but I truly hope that the only work I do between now and end of July is what's required for the ASLE conference, and that once the conference is over, my brain turns to oatmeal and I begin doing my sea-cucumber impersonations.

Hasta luego.

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