Fellow academics: Come into my pit of seethe!

A shitty day . . . I was an internal candidate for a job I was kind of ambivalent about, but at least wanted to be offered it! I was actually interviewed twice for this job in the past and was the number two candidate both times – the dept wanted, as did I, for our top internal candidate to get the job, but I would be next in line if candidate one didn’t take the job.

I was practically begged by colleagues to apply for the opening so I did it in public-spiritedness. Our dept is huge, complex, and has a lot of quirky professorial folk to manage. A long-lasting tradition is the candidate must have a Ph.D. and minimum of five years teaching experience. AND right of return to faculty if he or she is fired for standing up for faculty. The hire has an M.A., a year of adjunct teaching, and no experience with curriculum or admin on a large scale. I have a Ph.D., 18 years of teaching, and a great depth of admin experience.

The best and worst about the hire, according to many, is that “she’s nice.” I also think she’s nice, bordering on being insipid. One of my well respected colleagues also interviewed and was passed over. He wanted the job more than I did – good job fucking him over as wellL.

The TL;DR version of politics: I’ve been there 11 years, the majority love me, a minority are okay about me, and a few people despise me (one of them is a person I whistle-blew on for corruption and evil deeds some years back and they lost an admin job). Fun fact: she was on the hiring committee.

So, hiring committee: when some scary stuff comes down the pike – and believe me, I know what’s coming and know how to handle it, I hope your “nice” hire is on the side of the faculty. Oops! She’s not a professor and never has been. Whoops! She’s never created curriculum or supervised more than five people; I sure hope she can effectively handle a dept of 92 headstrong profs and adjuncts. I’m sure being a nice person will be enough.

Eat a bag of dicks, you fucking idiots. Love, Me

Thats awful- I’m sorry. Chances are he decision was made in user administration, and the hire wasn’t the first choice of the actual search committee

Hi Ivory, I was hoping you’d duck in to my pit! I’m positive there are some dirty politics involved (which is why I stayed home today to avoid getting sucked into the gossip vortex).

Yah, 100% sure this involves the provost’s wishes. When the battle over increased teaching load happens soon we’re not going to have an advocate; this job will eat her up and spit out the remains. Most of the dept is aghast; thing is, as a senior tenured professor I’m kind of above dept dean’s shenanigans. The more junior professors will suffer more if chaos comes.

Thing is, I’m good with the small contingency who hate me. I’ve spoken truth to power many, many times and have protected junior faculty from some very bad things – I’d be kind of disappointed if I hadn’t pissed off some shitty toady people.

I’ve put my life and soul into this dept. I didn’t really want the job, but I feel humiliated. Thanks for listening to my splenetic splendiferousness.

This time with proofreading:

“Thats awful- I’m sorry. Chances are the decision was made in upper administration, and the hire wasn’t the first choice of the actual search committee”

If you’ve got a contract/teaching load issue on the horizon then it obvious why the provost wants someone weak. Hopefully you’ll be protected and you can keep protecting junior faculty. Problem is (and I assume you’re female), a certain contingent of faculty want women faculty to be “nice” and push back against outspoken, tough women.

I’m sorry for the rocky road ahead.

Thanks, Ivory. We have an active and powerful union that offers another layer of faculty protection. They delight in filing grievances against admins; everything about the hire seems soft and nice. Maybe she’s hiding an iron backbone, but I fully expect she’ll last only a year, if that.

I took another look at her CV and she’s amazingly, jaw droppingly unqualified. Some monkey biz happened with this one.

I agree with what you say about “nice” female faculty; I’m sure some folks thought I wasn’t nice enough and didn’t realize that a nice lady is not what you want in a dean who is facing some really tough situations. Ah well, I’ll make some popcorn and pull my chair up to watch the shit show.

Wanted to add: I’m the pack leader and, when needed, the protector of the female faculty. We’re all pretty close and eat lunch together twice a week.

This has been a point of contention with a few male faculty. I know this because one of the guys accidentally did a “reply all” when he wrote to a male colleague that we are “the bitch pack.” Very nice.

[Goomba voice]So, I see the two of yous are from Long Island and New Jersey. Nice.

I’m thinkin’ maybe, bein’ from Long Island and New Jersey, you might know people who know people, know what I’m sayin’?

Maybe you talk nice to these people who know people about this little PROBlem and, y’know…PROBlem solved? Capice?[/Goomba voice]

I’m sorry, and I hope someone has sent your union the “bitch pack” email.

Once upon a time, universities were run by the faculty. My own university, Penn, had no president until the 1920s and the highest officer was the provost, an academic. But administration was a pain and we wanted to be researchers and scholars so we hired administrators to do the scut work. Unfortunately, we let it get away from us and the administrators went from being our employees to our bosses. Serves us right. Now you have multi-million dollar college presidents and a majority of freshman courses taught by low paid part-timers. When my kids asked me if I would like to see them as university professors, my answer was “No way; it ain’t the life it used to be.”

Was this meant to be in MPSIMS (where it is now), or the Pit?

But without going into too many details, I can commiserate.

So, if the new hire decides to leave (or that decision is made for her) and the position is open again, would you apply for it again? Would your colleague who wants it even more than you do apply?

I thought it better here cuz it’s a seethe more than pit.

Thanks for the space to spew forth. I’m trying to be dignified and appear just fine at work; today a lot of people were tip-toeing around me, I think they’re scared I’m gonna blow (LOL).

Today it’s a firm “fuck no!” they don’t deserve me. Not that I’m sliced bread and all that, but I’m the only one in the department who has done every single task the job requires. And I was willing to take a salary drop to shepherd the dept for a few years through some troubled waters.

So when people’s teaching schedules are screwed up, student complaints aren’t addressed correctly, and admin tries to change our teaching load without commensurate salary . . . well, guys, you ain’t gonna have a strong, qualified dean who admin can’t steamroll over.

Frankly, I won’t be surprised if the hire lasts an academic year in our shark-infested waters.

I don’t know if my colleague would reapply, he’s in a bad space with this, maybe more than I am because he really wanted the job and it would have been a salary jump for him.

It was a pick your battle thing. And, truthfully, I think it’s funny that we irritate these guys by daring to congregate – uppity women and all that.

Oh, are we ever top heavy with parasitical admins and support offices! I have students with professorial ambitions and I’m really frank about the path higher ed is taking.

But colleges don’t really need teachers – right?

It loses in translation, but the nickname of former Spanish President Zapatero is el señor buen rollito - Mr. Nice, or Mr. Let Us All Be Friends.

I didn’t use to understand why the very sight of him made me want to scream, until I realized he reminded me of a former boss, in a voluntary position, whose response to any conflict between members of staff was “oh, but let us all be friends!” Dude, we’re not five, you’re not a nun and no, I’m not going to kiss and make up with an asshole who’s stealing the work of our other volunteers.

May your Miz Nice be more effective than my Misters Nice, although I’m afraid I doubt it.

I’m sorry this happened to you. I don’t have much to add, other than here in these parts today is a wonderfully beautiful spring day, and going for a nice walk is always a good way to ruin your seethe.

I hope things start looking up very soon.