Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Being UG + Grad Faculty: Joys and Annoyances

My department has a new graduate program, a few years old. It joins the other departments and programs in the university that have grad programs. I'm happy to be a part of our little and thus-far successful graduate program. The students are great and  I get to teach more in-depth material (which I was missing) and do more research project critique. I get TAs that I never had before and we have a revenue stream for our scholarship. But really: grad students rock.

However, as school starts (and the onslaught of meetings that take place prior), I'm realizing there are some serious disadvantages to being dual faculty. There are now three picnics I have to (really should) attend, and they overlap with each other (and I have to find a babysitter for). I now have an eight hour meeting and 2 four-hour meetings whereas before I "only" had the 2- 4 hour meetings.  That's on top of the faculty staff retreat, which is generally great but time consuming.

What's worse, this grad program 8-hour meeting is "visioning", which causes a practical person like myself to crawl inside her skin for the entire time. The agenda includes things like "How is the world changing and  how should we develop ourselves into the future?" (paraphrased to protect the innocent). Group discussion in circles. "Circle process" means you have no option to check out and let those who have needs speak, and those who are content, well, be content (and answer e-mails surreptitiously in their contentment). You are forced to share (and be vulnerable- whatever).

Are you seriously going to ask me to help shape the future of the entire graduate program, even though I am under-qualified and un-invested in, for example, the masters in counseling program? How about instead of spending hours brainstorming by ALL faculty- a bunch of specialists in something else, and each with extremely different programmatic needs and desires, that we have a consultant come in and find our weaknesses and present a practical plan for us to decide on? 

This is the price we pay for having such an extremely democratic, "we all do better when we all do better", consensus-based, even-the-janitors-are-our-colleagues, culture. Hey, I love it, completely, until we do the "circle process". Blerch.

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