One Faculty Member Down

A few weeks ago the other Chemist in the department, the same guy who was stepping down from the Chair’s role but supposed to be my Chair mentor next year, announced that he was leaving the school to go to a sister school  in another city.

When I read the email my mind went in to panic mode. There were a few nights of sleeplessness as I tried to figure out what to do.

See, at large Universities, when a faculty member leaves there are enough other faculty members around to carry the burden of their absence. Being at 7 instead of 8 Chemistry faculty isn’t so bad of a deal or even 20 out of 21 at a very large research school. But going from 2 to 1 is a huge, huge, deal.

So most schools will go a year without someone and advertise and interview for their replacement in that year.

Well, we don’t really have that luxury here. Within a week of getting the email that the other Chemist wasn’t renewing their contract I had the ad written for their position. I had it submitted to my Dean, who sent it to the Vice President, who approved it and forwarded it to Human Resources. I also had included a list of places that it should be advertised at for maximum exposure to qualified applicants.

A WEEK LATER the ad gets posted – INCORRECTLY to the website. I promptly sent an email to the HR woman, my Dean and the Vice President noting that they were advertising for MY position, not for the position that needed to be filled. (There was some copy and paste done into the advertisement that went out when I applied for the job).

A WEEK LATER the ad finally gets fixed on the website, but it STILL hasn’t been posted to any of the sites that I recommended to find another Chemist.

At this point it looks like it will be June when it gets posted, which means July for interviews – and a start date of August 15th? Who in the world would be both qualified and competent enough to move that quickly?

So I’ve been working hard on my “Plan B” scenario. Which is me being the sole chemist for a year with resubmission of our faculty ad in October and interview in December/January like a normal school.

I was able to make a plan for the Fall that involves switch Physical Chemistry over to our physicist, moving around the lectures for Nursing Chem, General Chem and Organic Chem so that I can teach them all, and getting an adjunct to cover the Physical Science class (that the physicist was going to teach) and an adjunct for the nursing and general chemistry labs. All in all, the Fall plan is doable, though inconvenient. I will have to cancel my research class, which is lame, but manageable. My contacts hours will be 11 with the plan I’ve drawn up which is above my load (9 contact hours), but not an impossible load.

Spring is where it gets tricky. I’ll need to adjunct out the Nutrition class and again the General Chemistry labs. That leaves me with Organic Chem, Analytical Chem, Biochemistry and General Chem. Which even with the General Chem lab adjuncted out will put me at 17 contact hours. Which is ridiculous. I obviously can’t do that. So my hope is that we might be able to find someone to start in January. Or even if I could get one of the biologists to teach the biochemistry class and then adjunct out one of their non-major classes like Anatomy or Biology for non-majors. Even then I’d still be looking at 14 contact hours with 3 days a week of labs. It will drive me insane I’m sure.

The moral of the story is that my first role as Chair is already a tough one: Find a person to come in with essentially not enough time for a move and ease the burden for me or run the department and teach two loads in the spring. Either way it seems ridiculously crazy. I’m not sure what the heck I’ll do. Maybe cocaine? 😉


6 Responses to One Faculty Member Down

  1. How stressful!! This is why my MIL retired. Good luck.

  2. Ouch that is harsh. If only I lived in KC and knew enough Chemistry…. I only teach highschool and AP/SAT Chemistry.

  3. TeacHer says:

    This time of year is always drama, drama, drama with academic scheduling. I was supposed to be in a scheduling meeting for 10 minutes this afternoon and it ended up being a series of three meetings that took almost THREE hours. Ultimately, it’s not my headache, but since I’m one of the more senior members of my department (which is ridiculous, I’ve only been there 4 years) I sort of had to smooth a few things out with my department members and the principal and VP.

    At any rate, don’t spread yourself too thin. Put the pressure on to hire someone else, and maybe you should try to meet with your dean to emphasize how serious this is. Sometimes administrators don’t really get the day-to-day operations of scheduling and teaching, but once they do, they’re quick to try to fix the situation.

    Good luck!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Have local grad students from UMKC teach – or at least babysit – the labs. This is particularly reasonable if the lab courses are sufficiently developed. Does you institution have a good relationship with any other schools in the area? You may be able to convince an established lecturer to help out with the understanding that you owe them one. Tough times, eh?

  5. psychsarah says:

    Oy! That sucks. It sounds like you’re problem solving like crazy, but I feel for you. I hope it works out well. Good luck!

  6. That sounds awful – but good luck finding someone or working out an alternate. Also, coke is probably a good option, but dont forget about meth – as long as you use it sparingly, it wont ruin your teeth 🙂

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