December 08, 2007

The sausage mill

I was called up to a faculty-wide board meeting Friday this week. The ordinary member is on parental leave and the first substitute was disqualified because of another assignment. I haven't been to one of these meetings since March. I am a substitute and substitutes are only granted permission to speak if they submit their questions in writing to the board secretary three days in advance, and I have better things to do with three hours a week than observe board meetings. But now I will be a proper member for six weeks. It turns out that things haven't been going so well so they hired a coach to observe Friday's meeting and give advice on how to improve the work climate. The underlying cause is that the people in charge have decreed huge, rapid, unprecendented and largely unmotivated structural changes in the organization and it is this board's job to implement the changes.

In a related story, on Monday this week the head of our department asked 5 people to leave voluntarily or be fired. The usual deal is that a professional academic trades the high salaries of private industry for job security (tenure) and research freedom. In practice, where I work, we do not have job security anymore, and formally they can now tell us what research we should do. That's fine if they would like to treat us as employees of a private company, but then we should be paid accordingly.


At December 09, 2007 12:03 AM , Blogger rigtenzin said...

The fact that they hired a coach makes it pretty interesting to me. Sometimes the conflicts between group members is interesting, if I can keep my distance.

At December 09, 2007 8:42 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

She said we worked well together as a group, respected each other's boundaries, took turns when speaking, and had a great intensity and concentration. I later heard that there are two people in particular who cause trouble on the board, and both were absent.


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