Retrenchment, Day 22

In addition to retrenching tenured and tenure track faculty like me, BSU has also opted not to renew the contracts of fixed term and adjunct faculty. They had to do this in the rosters where they wanted to retrench, or contractually they would not have been able to eliminate positions. This too will have an effect. I don't think I worked less hard when I was a contingent instructor than I do now. Also, as I've mentioned previously, the retrenchments in June followed a cut in March that let go 23 people in a combination of early retirement incentives and layoffs. This has also had an effect on campus.

Unlike Twitter, BSU can't lose large numbers of workers and continue to function as if nothing happened. An example: as it turned out, the connection from the projector wasn't working when I got to class on Wednesday morning. Luckily the connection to the document camera was. So I put my notebook under the doc cam and ran my PowerPoint through it. My friend in IT Services rushed over to help, and figured it out while I was doing the doc cam lecture and after class we verified her theory that it wasn't the entire control box that was broken, but only the port the HDMI cable from that connected to my notebook was plugged into. If it doesn't get fixed, I'll be able to unplug the cable to the doc cam and plug that into my computer next time.

The unreadiness of this large lecture hall in the science building for normal operation at the beginning of a semester is directly related to the financial crisis at BSU, it turns out, because IT Services is now shorthanded. One of their senior support people took the early retirement incentive when it was offered last spring, and she was not replaced. Now that I think of it, I think the CIO left as well. A guy who used to manage servers is now doing classroom tech support, and my friend who rushed over is a senior person in her department. With everybody wearing extra hats, we're probably lucky anything works!

In another unforced error, a couple of my students in Women in World History had to borrow the book from me in order to do this week's work. The bookstore "ran out" and people either ordered the book there or went on line. In either case, they'll have to wait up to a week more to receive their copies. This is a problem I haven't encountered recently, because I rarely require books students need to purchase. But even though the two volumes I've assigned aren't that expensive, I'd say there's something broken in a system where students don't get their books until the end of week two, more than 10% into the semester.

Part of this issue may relate to an uptick in students enrolled in the last couple of days before classes began. A colleague had his course cancelled because enrollment wasn't high enough, and I think I picked up some of his students. But even so, with 23 students I was only a little over 50% of my cap. You would think the bookstore might have been able to handle this. I'll be visiting today or tomorrow to chat with the manager and get her perspective.

These are the types of problems that have been fairly common at BSU, but now may become more frequent. In the past, faculty and students have sort-of powered through them. Will a change in morale make that more difficult? I'll admit I was a bit more annoyed when the projector failed on the second day after I had been promised it would be fixed. I held it together, for the most part. But there are a lot of people under unusually high levels of stress on campus right now. Could be a problem, if the machine starts to break down.

Link to YouTube: