The Cat Ate My Blog Posting

Really. It’s true. I had a perfectly good blog posting up here yesterday–not great, and maybe even a little dull (a comparative analysis of meeting themes from the past to themes from the present round of meetings), but perfectly good in other ways–and now, shazam! It’s gone.

I’m blaming the cat. Yes, it’s not catblogging Friday yet, but still.  Who else can I blame?  joeybeer

Well, I suppose I could blame the IT department: the 12 faculty in this newly renovated old building would like to be able to actually print stuff for classes that begin next week, but it seems a little Gremlin is in the network, and printing is a hit or miss activity this week. Sometimes I can print, sometimes I can’t.  (And yes, I’m looking for a pattern: perhaps some of my creations aren’t worthy of printing, according to the printing gods/goddesses?)

I suppose I could also blame the electricians who have been working (ceaselessly) on this renovated old building for what seems to be way past the time that they should be working on this old building (now, I could be wrong but shouldn’t the electrical work be done before the walls are put up?).

Or I could blame the poor gas men, who took over my office for a few days to get into my ceiling to install a gas line (for the gas fireplace that is in the upstairs “student lounge”–right above my head).  They did a fine job, even cleaned up, but for some reason kept leaving me emails  saying that they were sorry, but they couldn’t lock my office door with their key.  I kindly replied that all they needed to do was to push in the button on the inside door handle.

These are the men in charge of installing the GAS lines.

But no, I’m thinking of blaming the cat (either mine or Dr. Crazy’s fabulously lazy cat). Why not? What does he care?

And no, I don’t think I’ll bother recreating that lost post. Clearly the gods who don’t want me to print my composition syllabus, don’t want me to post that posting. Fine.

Sharing Is Caring

Annie's Office

At our little community college, with its small, mostly 1-2 storied, scattered multiuse (both offices and classrooms together) buildings over nearly 200 acres, the tradition is that full time instructors get private offices, while adjuncts must share. Yet, as is the sad state of academia nationally, while the number of full time instructors has remained stagnant for the last 15+ years, the number of part timers has increased dramatically. Thus, we have an office space issue: the offices (most at under 100 square feet) are too small to house 4-6 part time instructors at the same time.  And despite an increase of 7 new faculty offices by fall, we still expect to be short office space, particularly in our department, which has been tasked to add more classes (and thus more part time faculty) to meet increased demand. Hence the e-mail we all recently received with the treacly subject line “Sharing (Offices) Is Caring”:

FT instructors,

As I am sure you all know, we have a serious space crunch for offices around here. We are also in the process of trying to hire a few more instructors for this fall term since we are overwhelmed with enrollment growth. We are asking Full-Time instructors if they are willing to share an office with Part-Time/Adjunct. I know it’s not really anyone’s first choice but if you can work something out it would be extremely appreciated.

So far, no one has jumped on this opportunity. Keep in mind that unlike most university professors, we teach 15 hours a week, hold an additional 5 hours a week for office hours, attend at least one committee meeting a week, and many (though not all) of us use our offices to do prep and grading. So during prime hours (10am-4pm) most faculty are on campus, and in need of an office.

Many moons ago, before computers were part of the office décor, I was an adjunct. I believe I shared a large office (at least 150 square feet) with about 60 other part time instructors. I remember running from the subway to get there early enough (I taught evenings then as I continue to do now) to at least get a chair and a piece of a desk. I shared a single file drawer. I feel the pain of having shared office space. And  the 6 part time instructors who share the 90 square foot office next door to me now are crammed, rushed to make use of the ONE computer, and clearly unable to perform their jobs with the same comforts as I currently have.

So I’ve volunteered to share my office in the fall with a part timer, who happens to be my husband, who also happens to teach at the ungodly hour of 8am, well before I arrive.  That’s not exactly selfless of me I know, but I’m guessing some of you fellow academics understand?

Fridays in Academia

It’s Friday and our campus is effectively empty on Fridays. Well, there is the eccentric Economics professor just letting out his class at 1:50pm, but really, he’s the lone non-Science/Allied Health professor still teaching a MWF class. Otherwise, my mostly small-classrooms- and-very-small-offices-single-hallway-1950s-building is blessedly quiet on Fridays. The Science building, however, having to make use of the labs 12 hours a day to fit all the students into labs, is very busy, but they are the other side of the quad and out of audio, eyesight and physical contact.

So what am I doing in my office on a Friday? Yes, there are few faculty members around, but each Friday there are some of us scattered all over campus in our offices or in conference rooms.  If any of them had a day like mine, they came in for a morning meeting (since there are few classes on Fridays, Fridays are now de-facto meeting days), and then they decided they might as well go to their offices to clean off the desk or get some prepping done. 

My plan was to grade quizzes posted in Blackboard, but, alas, the Blackboard gods have decided that, no, dear, it’s just not the right time to let you access those quizzes. And, since it is Friday, the campus Blackboard guru is out for a long lunch, so I sit here, not very patiently, awaiting the guru’s return so that I can kill the gremlin inside Blackboard (as insidious as the chatty Paper Clip gremlin in Word) who refuses to allow me access to my students’ quizzes.   I could actually clean my office, but blogging just seems more productive at this point and while in this agitated state of mind.

Interestingly, the meeting I went to this morning was the Renovation Taskforce: one of our aging buildings is due to be renovated to create more office and classroom space and I am one of the 2 faculty members on the “team”.  The fun part of these meetings with the architects is the HUGE cultural disconnect between their world and the academic world (at least the academic world of a public community college).  At our first meeting a few weeks ago, the architects were a bit surprised to learn that rather than a faculty lounge, we make due with a closet-like workroom with a copy machine, table, fridge and if really adventurous, a coffee pot.  No “lounging” for our faculty. Today, the architects came back with their initial drawings of the 4 offices that they believed could be created in this particular space, offices ranging from 230 to 290 square feet. The dean gasped (she wants 6-8 offices if possible) and we had to explain to them that most faculty offices are around 100-120 square feet, and that when we said “comfortable” we were thinking that 120 square feet would be divine (since my current office is about 80 square feet, 120 would be more than divine).   I could see the pitying looks pass between them when we showed them the size we had in mind.

I’m in my office 6-9 hours 4-5 days a week while school is in session (though some of that time is, of course, in the classroom): the potential for an office that is 120 feet, with maybe an accent wall that was not institutional yellow?  This is worth a Friday on campus. 

Now where is that Blackboard guru?