Retrenchment, Day 9

When I went to Crossfit yesterday, there were a bunch of BSU people there. My tenured colleague in my own department who was also retrenched is a member there too. And she had posted an announcement of her retrenchment on Facebook, so the news had spread even farther. It's a bit weird, because although it has been announced that 27 faculty are being eliminated, the names have not been released -- only a list of which rosters were effected. So in order to figure out who has been retrenched, you have to compare the numbers announced in each roster with the actual list. I have done that, but even then it's hard to be 100% certain without asking.

And occasionally there's more to the story. One of the people I saw at the gym was a member of the music department. He mentioned that in addition to the guy I had guessed had been eliminated, a tenured professor who basically saw the writing on the wall decided to find a new job and resign before she could be retrenched. This loss doesn't "count" in the 27, but the music department is going to feel it.

Morale is going to be a big problem this semester, I think. Nobody I talked with said they are going to attend the president's startup breakfast meeting. One person suggested that maybe all the retrenched faculty should go, and face their chairs away from the stage or "take a knee". Mostly, people are planning (or at least saying they're planning) on avoiding the meeting entirely.

I am not planning on going to the president's meeting or to the provost's. My Dean is going to roll out her reorganization plans for the colleges at a two-hour-long meeting in the afternoon, and after having breakfast with her a couple of days ago I have agreed to attend that. It's a really radical reorganization which might have the desired effect, although probably not quickly enough to save my job. But at least she and the other Deans are trying to DO SOMETHING other than just eliminate faculty, which was the best response the administration managed to come up with.

Students are arriving this weekend and dorm move-in begins next week as the faculty are attending or boycotting these start-up meetings. What the administration says to them will also have a huge effect on how the semester goes. And what faculty say, especially those of us who are losing our jobs. I don't plan to stand in front of classes and air dirty laundry. But I also don't plan to hide the fact that I've been retrenched. I suspect that will be a shock to some of my students. I actually got an email from a former student who is now in grad school. She was very supportive and offered to write a letter or cause a ruckus. That was very nice, and I appreciate it.

The problem for current students will be, how will all these classes go, taught by faculty who know they are short-timers. I don't plan to slack off, although I have to admit I may not implement some of the innovations I was planning for this semester. I imagine that as time passes, I'll feel more like I should just do what I've done before and devote the time I would have spent trying new things to looking for a job. To be honest, I feel more urgency around getting my courses ready to offer to the outside world than revising them for BSU. But having said that, I DO of course plan to teach these last courses at BSU to the best of my ability and to tell the students that even though the race may be ending, we're going to run through the tape. The content hasn't changed: it's still relevant and important, even though the institution is crumbling around us. A metaphor for the state of society?

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