Via e-mail from The Kid, now employed in a full-time editorial job in the precincts of Our (former, in my case) Beloved Employer:
So we all know that the GDU budget is currently a mess. There are a lot of rumors floating around the department and school about cuts, very similar to what we saw right before we got canned. I stay out of all of this. I’ve got other streams of income and won’t be affected as drastically.
Today I receive an email from the Dean of the Business School that there will be a town-hall style meeting to dispel some of the rumors and get some facts out there.
This is where it gets interesting: a professor chimes in that, in the spirit of Obama-esque redistribution of wealth, she as a faculty member suggests an across-the-board cut in faculty salaries to keep the staff in place and at their current pay rates. Imagine that?!? My supervisor replied that she too agrees with this plan. Now a stream of emails have flown back and forth with a number of positions on the budget. But the fact remains, some people actually may value our work and would prefer the take a pay cut than lose us. Unselfish in America? Never thought I’d see the day…
Another “town hall”? LOL! How many of those performances are the poor deans going to be made to put on? These little plays layer unrealistic optimism (shall we say…) with a light sprinkling of straight talk to try to plump up morale among the troops. The degree to which they work depends on the degree of the listener’s gullibility.
Voice of Experience to Kid:
How much you believe the rumors…well, it’s ambiguous. Some of the stuff is just hot air, some of it is kinda prescient, and a bit of it is even true. Don’t recall whether I shared this with you guys, but about 18 months before we were canned I was told in no uncertain terms that we would be gone by that fall. Hm…that would have put us on the street in September of ’08. A departmental chair told my friend La Maya, who is tenured on the West campus, that he had been to a university-wide meeting in which Capaldi told them, in “confidence” and swearing them to secrecy, that by September of 2008 all academic professionals would be let go.
That’s why I started searching for jobs that summer, and that’s how I came to get interviewed for a program director’s position at the Botanical Garden. After weeks of worry, it occurred to me that I happened to know a guy on that committee, one of my coreligionists. The university had posted the minutes of the meeting online, complete with attendance, so I knew Bill had been there. Called him on the phone and asked him point-blank if that was what Capaldi said. Without a pause to think about it, he said no, nothing even vaguely like that had happened.
There’s really very little you can do when rumors are blowing on the wind, other than try to ignore them. And always to be on the lookout for another job. Listening to that shit can drive you nuts. It’s probably good to know in general that something is up, but if you think too hard about it, it’ll make you sick.
What a place! Good lord, what a place.