Job Stability Fears

I mentioned that my school laid off 25 people, 4 of which came from my department.

Another faculty meeting Friday afternoon confirmed what most of us feared would be true: There were more cuts to come.

Apparently in March when our new contracts come around there will be a number of people who will not have their contract renewed. They will still be able to finish out the semester (unlike the last wave of layoffs where they only gave them 1 week notice that they weren’t faculty members anymore before the semester started!).

However, those not issued contracts will not have a (full-time) position in the Fall.

In addition, it appears that my University will extend the length of their state of emergency until at least September. Meaning that even if we get contracts they can be canceled at any time and we won’t get any matching retirement benefits during this time.

I want to believe that I’ll be kept on. I’m new though, so I’m an easy target to let go. I have potential to bounce back from being let go. But I also have a lot of potential to help the University grow in the right direction.

I keep teetering between two extremes: Over-anxiety and intense calm.

I know that what I need to do is somewhere in between: Hope for the best, plan for the worse.

The reality though is that even if my contract wasn’t renewed I would still have a job in August. Why? They will still need everyone they let go to adjunct. Yah, I won’t get benefits, I won’t get as high of pay, but I’d still be able to pay bills and I’d have the ability to teach class(es) at the local community college to supplement pay if I wanted. All of this while I am sending out applications to other schools.

Then there is the part of me that thinks maybe I should just start looking for a new position now. I know there are many other schools that would hire me. I’d have to move again, which would suck, but it isn’t the end of the world. Really, I’m exceptionally happy in Kansas City though, I don’t want to leave. I feel deep in my heart that this is where I belong.

The school needs to drop $250,000 worth of salaries. I just hope I’m not one.

Hey, if all else fails I could teach high school. The salary would be about the same. šŸ˜‰

I’ve decided that in the mean time I’m going to spend some time working on projects that I can accomplish to make my department better. Here are the ideas I’ve come up with:

  1. Start a section of the American Chemical Society at my institution for the students to become members of for professional development.
  2. Organize monthly Saturday workshops at the University, lead by the students, to reach out to 5th – 8th grade students interested in science.
  3. Get the students to start volunteering with water monitoring services of the nearby creek water. It is both educational and a community service. Also, this can include both chemistry and biology majors.
  4. Redo the webpage for our department.
  5. Start writing grants for funding for summer research initiatives.

The future is very uncertain and I know without a doubt that there is a possibility that I won’t have a (full-time) job in August, but I’m hopeful that the changes that are made at my institution will be for the best. In the mean time I see it as my responsibility to make sure that I’m doing all I can to make sure that my department is the best possible department it can be.

[Addendum: After writing this post I had an “off the record” conversation with the current chair of our department where I found out a few things. One: They are wanting to lay off two more people from my department. Two: I’m not on that list. Three: The people who are on the short list know about it, so since I don’t know I’m not one. Four: If I wanted to apply for a new job for August I probably should just do it and he’ll support that decision. Five: He thinks that if they did lay off one of us it would be him because he’s pissed off a lot of people in administration in the process of fighting for my co-worker’s jobs. Maybe it is just me but firing someone because they’re standing up for their department (their JOB) is terrible. I would fire me because I’m young and have more potential to bounce back. Okay, all of this is off the record… so…. I dunno, I’m pretty much anonymous anyway, right?]

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13 Responses to Job Stability Fears

  1. Daisy says:

    Way to be proactive!
    I like that your working to try to get your department into better shape.
    Uncertainty is aweful, isn’t it?

    • SS4BC says:

      It really is. I’m one of those people that can’t handle the “not-knowing”. If it is bad I just want to know so I can think about how I will deal with it.

  2. it's me, Sam says:

    Check out quest 4 girls ( the University of New Brunswick, Canada) a program developed for young girls to introduct them to science and engineering. My DD went to it and loved it! Also Queen’s University has developed a similar program ( actually I think UNB followed Queen’s lead). Check it out, it may help your program developement!

    • SS4BC says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve been volunteering on the weekends for a program here called “Science Pioneers” that has a similar focus towards young girls. Also, I volunteered for another program way back in graduate school called “Read Science” that went in to inner city schools and read them a science story and then did science experiments based on that.

      There are so many good programs around, it really is just a matter of getting one set up and getting students involved!

  3. Cassie says:

    Man oh man, lay off stress sucks.

    I’m VERY happy to hear that your head wasn’t on the chopping block. The things that you’re thinking about doing on the side for the department are SO valuable, the department would be foolish to let you go.

    • SS4BC says:

      I’m happy I’m not on the chopping block, but that doesn’t make me very much better about what is going on, to be honest. The morale is very low when you KNOW that you’ll be losing more colleagues and you KNOW that your benefits are going to be cut for at least another 6 months.

  4. Do you think any of your financial strategy is going to change as a result of these uncertainties? It sounds like your job is safe, but have you thought about shifting from debt payoff to savings as a result of being a little bit on the fence? (I’m not saying this is the right approach, I just want to make sure that if you’re thinking about moving again that you have all the financial tools to do so!)

    • SS4BC says:

      I have thought about it. And I decided last month when the first wave of firings happened that I wouldn’t switch my focus.

      The main reason for this is that even if something job-wise happened I would be kept on at the very least as an adjunct. I wouldn’t be out of a job completely. So I would still get a salary, just no benefits. If that happened THEN I would reassess my financial plan, but for now I’m comfortable with pushing towards debt repayment.

  5. It sounds like you’re safe. But I wonder for how long… At this rate, they can be shutting down whole departments by the sounds of it. =/
    Do you have any back-up plans?

  6. Red says:

    Argh! Just reading this post gave me a stomach ache. I can’t imagine how you were feeling before your off the record conversation. I’m glad you’re not on the chopping block. Still, what a horrible environment that must be to work in right now. I feel for ya!

  7. s says:

    Yeowch! Sorry to hear this. I hope the situation stabilizes. Sounds like you’ve got some good project ideas for your dept! At least there’s the option of being adjunct. Although being contracted/full-time is definitely more preferable!

  8. seenonflickr says:

    The best time to look for a job is when you have a job, so they say. I don’t think it would hurt to see what’s out there.

  9. Pingback: At Least I Have a Job « Small Steps for Big Change

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