Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crying in the Dean's Office

Because I just can't help myself from posting this...

The Dean requested to meet with me individually to discuss the proposed plan to eliminate my department. It did not go well for me, and I did not handle it well either.

The Dean was trying to show me the advantages of moving me over to some other department (where there are no women and they hate my discipline). I started crying. The Dean kept on talking. I finally said that I had to go because I was too emotional and not ready to have that discussion yet. I said that we could pick it up some other time (between sniffles). The Dean said something snarky. I left crying. I hate that I can't control my emotions when it is most important. I feel as if I have failed all women in science.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Job Is Disracting Me From My Work

The drama at my University eats up most days, where we shuffle between other faculty members' offices whispering. Plans have been proposed, knocked down, reconfigured. None seem to be viable.

I am dreading work tomorrow because I have a million real things to do: manuscript submission (2), homework solutions (2), lecture notes (2), test grading (8 left). I would like to just stay at home and work, but my students need me to be around more often than never.

I need to take a break from writing - perhaps a month. By then, I will know where to hang my hat.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cherry on Top

As if to make this week any worse, my doppleganger is potentially conducting research that I am also doing - so I've recently discovered. The similarities are too much. We are both working on this one very specific system, so it cannot be overlooked. Fortunately, only two people in the nation or world are experts on this system, and one of the experts is myself.

When I approached my doppleganger, I first tried to be friendly and extend advice. I wrote that we should meet as a group to discuss the system because his student was asking around my lab and needed advice. The response from the doppleganger was simply that he would instruct his students not to speak with mine. There is a longer email thread, but he essentially comes out looking like a jerk.

What to do? I approached my official mentor, and then my chair. The emails were forwarded. I noted that another faculty member from Other University had warned me about the doppleganger in 2008. I noted that the doppleganger was present at my closed-door research proposal session when I interviewed at Other University, so he had full access to my research plan. My chair and mentor are going to meet to talk about it, and we'll see about this outcome. Its just a cherry on top of an already frustrating workplace.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Mature Response

I am seeking advice from all yall. Put yourself in my shoes: you are a junior faculty in your second year, and you find that your department is potentially being eliminated. You are already teaming up with senior faculty to draft a group response and alternative plan. But individually you have your own opinions. You want to express them in a mature and professional way that doesn't damage your career. Do you:

1. Write a letter to junior faculty to be read at the Dean+junior faculty meeting (to which you are unable to attend)? The letter would outline why you think it is a bad idea from the junior faculty point of view.

2. Write a letter to send to the Dean? The Dean has a reputation for being close minded, and a letter may have little impact.

3. Do you keep your mouth shut, and work behind the scenes with the senior faculty?

4. Do you jump ship?

5. Any other ideas?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Faculty Meetings

I now have faculty meetings every day to discuss our fate. When is there time to work??

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Identity Crisis

I deleted the last post. So here it is again with more description.

I found out this week that my department is in danger of being deleted. I belong to a department that you find at most regular universities, so it is hard to wrap my head around why we are being eliminated. I don't know how to respond or react. I feel like my career is in jeopardy.

There are still ongoing discussions, but I have a sick feeling that this is a done deal.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Vixen's Empire Greeting Cards

My friend has a new R-rated greeting card business called Vixen's Empire ! Put America to work and order some cards!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Special Kids

I was in the "gifted and talented" program in my elementary school. I liked it for the most part. We played games, built stuff with toothpicks, did logic puzzles - all in the safety of a trailer outside the school. This trailer was like a mobile home cast aside from our large, concrete elementary school. Teachers kindly called this FEMA-shack "the portable." As if this class room could take off and go at anytime like my portable phone. Our "gifted and talented" trailer was shared with the special needs kids, which made for an odd combination of folks under one roof. For a while, I thought that us G and T kids were also special needs kids, and that people were just being nice when they said that we were Gifted. As an outsider, I don't know if anyone could pick out which class was special or gifted. We were all coloring and doing weird things - no one was sitting in their desks. And why did we all get banished from the "real" school to a "portable" school? Maybe it was so that the regular kids had one more thing to throw at us for insult?

I'm now thinking about schools again because Sparky is pretty smart and it has crossed my mind that he might benefit from some expensive, private G and T school. But the benefits aren't clear to me. I was educated in a trailer, so should he!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How We Lost Your GRE Scores

Or better known as how graduate admissions committees work.

I am serving on the Graduate Admissions committee this year in hopes of recruiting some fresh blood to my lab. I have found that the Admissions committee works very fluidly without real mathematical statistics for selecting candidates, as I previously thought. Instead, we have big stacks of paper copies of applications. We sift through them one by one and mark which ones we like. In the shuffle, papers get lost, files become de-alphabetized, and people's transcripts become mixed up. Its best to be the first one to attack the files. If you're the last, you're looking at a big disorganized mess. After about a week of sifting through the applications, we email our list of top picks around and see which candidates' names keep popping up. From there, we rank the 'popular' students and submit them for acceptance.

What makes me put a student on my top list? Grades, GRE scores, undergraduate school, recommendation letters from other people I know, publications... I hardly ever read their personal statement because they are all SO bad. 90% start with some stupid inspirational quote, and this is honestly not the time for me to be inspired. I get a little mad when people write generally about why they want to go to my school. They should be listing specific areas that we are good at, or specific faculty that make them interested. The last thing I want to read is "I like [insert name of wrong university] because it has top professors." Maybe I should forward your app to [wrong university] since you obviously wasted your admission fee on us?