Thursday, March 13, 2014

Faculty players to get commuppance?

First our Dean asked us hamster studies faculty to create an academic staff position for a "trailing spouse" of a hotshot assistant prof over in the English Department.  The money came from the Provost's slush fund for
such purposes, so we did it, and she even got a very large and sought-after office to boot. Not sure what she was doing or teaching - something called "digital hamster humanities."  But the Dean was happy he
made the Provost happy, so we were not unhappy.

Next we were asked to create a tenure-track position for her.  We were told she and Hubby were considering joint TT positions in some good southern State Uni and we needed to "step up to the plate." This time the free money would last two years. Our Dean still wanted a happy Provost, so he was on board.  To meet the challenge from state uni Down South, we were instructed that we needed to decide immediately. We felt we were being played.

Before we could even meet to discuss the issue, word came down that we didn't act fast enough: the couple was leaving.  They were taking TT jobs at a mediocre eastern state uni's satellite campus in one of the poorest cities with one of the highest crime rates in the US. Comeuppance?

We wished them luck and godspeed, and now the plan is to put two staffers in her office when it becomes vacant in July.  I only hope they don't visit their new campus before then and back out.

Old Fart Prof


  1. That exact same thing happened about 10 years ago when I was in grad school. EXACTLY. Right down to the crappy locale of the move. The hotshot brought his wife, who worked in some paraposition in art. After a strangely timed "vacation" (like not during a break or when there were good conferences going on), her department was asked to find her a TT spot because she was "thinking about looking elsewhere". It took her department less than two weeks to agree and get the ball rolling on creating the position. She'd already signed papers elsewhere and said they "dragged their feet".

    When hotshot took his grad students on a visit so they could decide whether to stay or follow, there was a homeless person smoking either crack or meth in the elevator of the administration building, right outside the admissions office. Not even in a stairwell or a building no one uses. An elevator next to the admissions office.

    His students stayed.

  2. Maybe the money is really, really good? Or maybe they're just the victims of extreme geographical prejudice (or very fond of family in the area)?

    There was lots of slush money in digital hamster anything a few years back, because there was lots (relatively speaking, for the humanities) of start-up grant money available (which Provosts et al. tended not to notice, or decided to ignore, meant "money to start a program in which you will then invest yourselves." ) There are still grants out there, but demand for same has seriously outstripped supply, which is too bad, since there's exciting work to be done. Still, this might have become a headache for you in more than one way in the long run.

  3. That does sound like a lot of hassle for you, but from their perspective, two TT jobs in hand, in a city with presumably a low cost of living, could easily sound more appealing than waiting even a few weeks for the chance of something better. Especially after the latest nonsense out of Rochester . . .

  4. I was a "trailing spouse" for years and no one ever wanted to provide me with a kick-ass position or office to keep him! I'm going to blame my SO for not being desirable enough. :)

    Clearly, it's your fault they're leaving. Clearly. :) Talk about good riddance!

  5. Is it me, or does the picture look like Morn from Star Trek Deep Space Nine?

  6. Coming from a non-US perspective, I think spousal appointments are corrupt and discriminatory, and say so whenever the topic is raised at my place. So you're better off without, IMO.