My Beautiful Wickedness


Getting stuff done
April 26, 2007, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Into every professor’s life, a little busywork must fall. Thursdays are usually my “catch up with crap” days, as all the people I need to speak to will still be on campus (Friday being a dead day, with professors and students both vying to get out of town first and administrative staff calling in sick when the weather is fine).

Most of what I do is trivial: return a phone call indicating that I got the phone call to set up a phone appointment; return library books; pick up campus mail; vote in elections to select delegates for this or that committee; read the early retirement planning report; read the end-of-the-year-we-haven’t-done-anything-because-this-is-a-complex-issue report put forth by our curriculum revision committee; send publicity about an upcoming event; file paperwork for reimbursements; clean out my phone mail; send letters of congratulation to my advisees who are graduating next month.

Sometimes, however, these days give me a chance to complete something and feel good for a minute. For example, through the able graphic design assistance of my polymath husband, I completed the chapter certificates for our history honors society. We usually recruit 6 or 7 people a year. This year, I recruited 48. We’re going to have a huge ceremony on Sunday with the Provost and the Dean in attendance and it’s going to be very cool. So that is going right.

I also formally started to run the Women’s Studies program, although I won’t start getting paid for it until July. We have a student paper award that needed a jury and so I rounded up some judges and got them to consent to a rapid turn-around. I planned a little pizza party for the winner, whomever he or she turns out to be. I did some budget work and looked over our disaster of a website to try to figure out what to do. I corresponded with the National Women’s Studies Association to let them know that we’re going to do a new conference and I donated some money to the Women of Color Leadership Group. It’s a start. I am BFF with the last director (who took a lateral move to direct another program in the college), so I don’t feel quite so nervous as I might otherwise.

I wrote a letter of support for one of my advisees. She is being sued by her father because he contends that she is not making timely progress towards degree completion (part of a messy child support thing). I intellectually get that such things happen, but I had to stop several times while drafting this letter to question how a relationship could get so fucked up that you’d sue your own daughter to avoid paying for her schooling.

I wrote a note of encouragement to one of my students. She’s in the art program but is struggling and feels like her teachers don’t think she’s very talented. I think she is a hard worker in my class — easily the best work ethic of all my students — and she thinks/writes clearly. She wistfully asked me what training one might need to get into archaeology, since art was apparently such a bust. I sent her some career info but also tried to let her know that I valued her efforts and her skills.

I also picked up some of my peer evaluations. I’ve been having a hard time getting my colleagues to come in and observe me; it’s extra work on them, I teach really early in the morning on the “off days” (because the bulk of the faculty in my department don’t want to work on Monday) and so they have to make a special trip. Anyhow, I’ve often prepared to be observed and set up appointments to be observed only to wind up with a late-breaking cancellation. I was very disheartened about this last week, as it seemed to me to indicate a lack of interest in my career development on the part of the people I was depending on to guide me through the tenure process. Happily, I began to receive a few of my evaluations today and they are beyond good. I’m actually a little embarassed by the fulsome praise in one of them, especially since the reviewer is known around the campus as a gruff no-bullshit sort of a guy. So my confidence is picking up somewhat and I have another round of peer review coming next week.

Now it’s almost 10 pm (god, where did the time go?) and I’ve got to go do some grading. I’m trying to get this round of tests graded before the weekend so that I don’t have them hanging over my head. But remember, kids, David Horowitz says that college professors only work 6-10 hours per week! This is all the stuff I have to do before any historical research or writing or teaching preparation gets put together…the job before the “real job: starts.

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