Saturday, March 04, 2006

Here's your degree. NOW LEAVE!

If I believed in some sort of mystical metaphysics, I might conjure up some demon or god seeking to challenge me at this point in my life. I showed my wife my open letter to my mentor, which ends with the mantra "patience...". She remarked, you're getting a lot of practice for that these days. A-yup!

Yesterday: Gah! Okay, I started yesterday getting an undeserved parking ticket, which I had to appeal, and now I'm waiting for their response (which I almost expect to be complete disregard for reason, like a doubling of the fine which I shouldn't have to pay in the first place).

Then, in the afternoon, I sent an email to my former department chair, where I had applied for a university faculty fellowship, which permits recent PhD grads one or two years of half-time teaching/half-time research to help jump start their careers. I hadn't heard anything, and couldn't find a "decision by" date anywhere in the materials. The department chair is supposed to send the application along with a recommendation to the dean. The whole thing is paid for by the university president, so the department gets a free teacher and colleague out of it!

After I submitted the materials to the department chair in December, I emailed him for confirmation, and asked if there were any questions or concerns regarding my application materials. I received no response. So, a few days later, I stopped by his office on campus, to see if he had any issues. Nope! Got it fine. Everything's okay.

Actually, those couldn't have been his words. He never speaks more than 3 words at a time, bringing the grand total of words he has ever said to me, to about 27! In six years. But the brunt of his reaction when I stopped by was that nothing more was needed from me. Apparently that was because he must have tossed it all into the dust bin as soon as he received it.

Here was his reply:

I don't believe that faculty recommended to accept the fellowship proposal. I will check, but I believe that was the outcome, and I assumed you would have been notified. I am sorry if I slipped up if the obligation was mine.

Oh, gee, oh yeah... was that your job? What do you mean I don't believe the faculty recommended to accept? I think what it means is that he never did anything with my application. I suppose I could easily find out if such a vote ever took place, which I seriously doubt! But what's the point?

He and my dissertation chair had been rivals for the post of chair before I arrived on campus. My dissertation chair has left (and is now chair of his own department). Was I too naive to suppose that faculty rivalries would not be visited upon their unsuspecting former students? Was it naive for me to expect that a department that had granted me a PhD would actually have some commitment to my success?

So, I guess I'm on my own. No support from my former department. At least my dissertation chair/mentor is still writing me recommendations, and encouraging me (in his way).


Peri said...

Hi! You always say such wise things to B* I had to come read your blog. And here I find you dealing with this crap. This is so incredibly cheesy that I can hardly believe it. You have my sympathies. I only wish I could offer something more encouraging. Why can't senior faculty just act like the grown-ups they are supposed to be?!

ArticulateDad said...

Hi Peri,

Welcome. Thanks for your vote of confidence. I've often given the advice, when we find ourselves in positions we consider beneath us, there are two ways to respond, and they will in large part determine our next step in life:

We can act as if the job is beneath us; or we can try so hard to shine that everyone else thinks that job is beneath us. My leaning is toward the latter (though it's certainly the harder path).

Maybe these things are beneath me. I just hope for the strength to behave above it.

Professor Zero said...

Your chair sounds flaky and incompetent, not to mention badly brought up.

This having been said, it is pretty clear
there isn't support for you in that department. That's not atypical.

What sounds the roughest to me about all of this is that you've been advised into a discipline that isn't exactly the one you want to be in. For what it's worth, I would say that you have the degree, so now, it's time to define
your next research project in *your* terms. Being sure you're working on something you can be enthusiastic about
makes you an attractive job candidate, believe it or not. It's hard to believe this kind of thing when you've just spent all these years completing requirements, taking advice, etc. But now, you get to take some of your own advice. You're certified!