Adventures in Ethics and Science

Welcome back.

My guess is that the first faculty meeting after one’s sabbatical year is never an easy one, but when that faculty meeting happens during a state budget implosion the likes of which no one can recall, it’s kind of like parachuting into an exploding monkey factory.

The high point:

We got to discussing the potential long-term (post-furlough and other stop-gap measures) impacts of drastically reduced state funding on our teaching loads. One possibility raised was that faculty might each have to take on another course each semester, with no possibility for “reassigned time” (which releases one from a course for research, committee work, curricular development, or whatever).

One of the early-to-mid-career faculty asked, “What can we do if that happens?”

Our chair replied, “I’m guessing a bunch of us will retire then.”

Please excuse me while I curl up in fetal position.


  1. #1 Pat Cahalan
    August 20, 2009

    > Our chair replied, “I’m guessing a bunch of us
    > will retire then.”

    Cool, so you get a shot at department chair, an increased teaching load to cover the budget shortfall, *and* an additional teaching load to cover the additional shortfall caused by the retirees!

    You’re in a fetal position why, again?

  2. #2 Physicalist
    August 20, 2009

    (Note to self: publish, publish, publish! You don’t want to have to be looking for a job in CA.)

  3. #3 Alex
    August 20, 2009

    The retirement of the old guard is not a bug. It’s a feature.

    Always look on the bright side of life!

  4. #4 Uncle Fishy
    August 20, 2009

    You make parachuting into an exploding monkey factory seem like a bad thing. Now where do they make these exploding monkeys.

  5. #5 Dave C
    August 20, 2009

    If it makes you feel any better (and I don’t see why it would), it sucks pretty badly for us students too.

  6. #6 Janet D. Stemwedel
    August 20, 2009

    Indeed, Dave, it sucks far worse for students.

    Among other things, our students face a $900+ increase in fees which is accounting for about the same percentage of the budget shortfall we need to make up as are the faculty furloughs, about which I’ll be blogging soon. That’s right, more tuition for about 9% less education.

    Sadly, sucky work conditions for faculty unavoidably cascade to create sucky learning conditions for students. We’re all in the same exploding monkey factory together.

  7. #7 ScienceWoman
    August 20, 2009

    Boy, you sure know how to make a girl look forward to her first faculty meeting of the year. At least I’ll have some Friday sprog blogging to cheer me up when I come out of it.

  8. #8 Jared
    August 20, 2009

    Anyone ever taken a course with an overworked professor? I have, I can assure you, it’s like watching a train wreck while being on the train… You can’t turn away because you’re part of it.

  9. #9 qaz
    August 20, 2009

    It is very important that you do not just say that you will do the same amount of work for less money. That is the road to disaster. Your university needs to tell the state that they don’t get something for nothing. (And if your university won’t do it, your department chair needs to tell the university president.) If they cut the teaching budget, you should teach less not more.

  10. #10 anonymous CSU faculty member
    August 20, 2009

    Next year’s budget is expected to be even worse. If those senior people don’t quit then some of your assistant professor colleagues might not have jobs next year.

  11. #11 jon
    August 21, 2009

    The retirement of certain SJSU senior faculty members would be a disaster, not a feature.
    On the bright side physical presence at the meeting prevents, shall we say, “shit tasks” from being delegated via proxy. And a budget shortfall may serve to reduce their number.

  12. #12 Pat Cahalan
    August 22, 2009

    > We’re all in the same exploding monkey factory together.

    This needs to be on a t-shirt. Concept art! You could have a “swag” link on your blog! We need a cartoonist! You could be a hundredaire in no time!

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