08 September 2004

People unclear on the concept?

This morning, I got an email asking if people would be willing to teach classes between Christmas and New Year.

Our university has a traditional fall and spring semester, and two summer sessions. This year, they experimented with a "mini term" in the few weeks between the spring and summer sessions, which apparently was reasonably successful. Administration is now asking about the possibility of a winter mini term between the fall and spring semesters. It would run December 20 to 11 January, with three days off for Christmas and two for New Year's.

My reply was, "You have got to be ****ing kidding."

I cannot help but wonder at the split personality of administrative decisions. On the one hand, we hear, "We want to become a research university." On the other hand, we get this email that says, "More classes. More, more, more!" When are faculty supposed to be doing research? Writing grant applications? Having a chance to even think about these issues?

Now, I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression here. It's not like faculty would be forced into teaching these mini terms. They'd be an opportunity for extra money for those faculty who wanted to teach them.

Still, I think it amply demonstrates how far administration's mindset is in thinking about research. This university has grown on the back of ever increasing student enrollment, and has chugged along quite nicely on student fees. I think university administration smells an opportunity for more tuition, and are chasing that with far more seriousness than they are talking about investing in faculty's ability to write and secure major external research grants.

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