146

I feel like I'm pointing out the glaringly obvious, but many people actually want to make their institution a better place, design policies that benefit future students and colleagues, etc.


90

I assume you've already tried to convince/pressure the instructor to provide enough information to assign grades. Assuming he's not dreadfully ill, it would be incredibly unprofessional for him to refuse, but sometimes people are unprofessional. If you don't know him well, is there someone else in the department who could try to talk some sense into him? ...


85

Go talk to the Dean prior to the meeting, and resist the urge to "reply all" to any mail that might be even remotely contentious. Email and text messages are good for exchanging facts, such as the time of the meeting. They are much less good for dealing with disagreement or even potential disagreement.


84

The "administration" is probably the wrong place to look. Instead, see if you your institution has some mental health staff, whether just associated contacts, or counselors, or even a dedicated behavior concerns advice function, to get proper advice. If the university is well-organized enough to have one of the latter, chances are they've also established ...


84

One possible option is to prepare a syllabus for the course which adds some legitimate graded work: homework, an exam, a paper or project, anything. Then, email it to your chair, mention that you want to evaluate the students' mastery of the material and hence devised your own grading rubric, and ask for her approval. If she approves, or if she switches ...


77

I can't speak for the work environments at other schools, but where I teach, the department chair gets an nicer office, a reduced teaching assignment, and extra pay, in addition to some political and financial power associated with the fancier job title.


74

It sounds like someone is after your space. You need to be prepared to defend your space during the meeting. It sounds like the Dean is not really on your side. I would call up the other professor to see if you can get a better feel for who is attacking you and what is being attacked. I would also potentially call the head of facilities, although I would do ...


66

I disagree with your proposed strategy. The marginal added workload of one additional student is usually negligible, and the average grade for the term is not usually something that reflects well or poorly on a professor to a significant degree. These aren't usually the main issues. I would expect the professor to make the decision by trying to balance ...


64

I can't tell you what is the 'best' solution to your situation, but I can share with you how I would approach it. If you allow, a few words about my background. After a Ph.D., I went to Wall Street. In my second job, a person who was senior to most people in my group was universally despised (the mere fact to be assigned to work with him made a female ...


60

I'm probably going to get rated through the floor for this one, but there are two obvious things sticking out to me I consider worth pointing out. First the possible resolutions you list and want to decide between appear equally ridiculous to me. Basically it sounds like you want to have St Peter descend from heaven with the book of good and bad deeds, get ...


53

You should have called the campus security/police when the incident was happening. Had you done that, you'd worry about nothing right now. How did you know that guy did not have a gun? Why did you ask the student to help you to get the guy out? It was the security/police officer's job. You put all the students' and your life in danger ! Now, what happened ...


52

I still have a hard time believing that I could graduate without knowing it. Me too. I would request a transcript and perhaps investigate to see whether "transferring military experience to credits" is something that routinely happens. It would be nice to document your concerns and get a written response from the college saying that everything is on the up-...


51

Will there be any negative repercussions if I do that (reject majority of the tasks)? Of course there is no way to say for sure whether there will be any negative repercussions if you keep rejecting those requests. However, frankly, it seems likely to me that: You will come across as kind of an ass to the administrative staff, and that's not great at all. ...


50

Not to be dismissive of this, but to be honest he sounds like the average "edgy" teenager/young adult. Maybe he's a fan of horror/slasher movies/history or just interested in serial killers specifically. I'm very interested in this type of things myself, and I'm not violent in the slightest. I also did some questionable school projects when I was younger, ...


48

So far, I have only come across one reason for needing something close to administrator rights on a fixed department machine: using scientific software. When you start using a new scientific piece of software, you often have its source code, and need to build it first. Typically, there is no documentation of what exact packages in your Linux distribution ...


48

A benefit not mentioned in the other answers is a reduced teaching load in many universities. Possibly zero teaching load. If someone does not like teaching, but likes (or has a lesser dislike of) administration and research, then the reduced teaching is a motive to become an administrator.


46

I'd bet pounds to pesos that this course is akin to the Geology 101 course my brother took (at a major football university) with most of the football team (he wasn't a student athlete, just took the course) that was commonly referred to as "Rocks for Jocks". However, that doesn't mean (as Buffy mentioned) that the course can't benefit the students. If I ...


40

Short: Contact a local union representative, and ask them for information and advice. The advice given by others (speak the truth, contact your department head and ask for his help, etc.) is good, and if cool heads prevail, you shouldn't be in too much trouble, though the experience must have left you in bad shape. Also, on that note, do not hesitate to ...


38

In these positions, one gets to influence the direction of the whole university, rather than the direction of the research of 1 to n individuals. At such magnitude, one can effect more change. Often people get disgruntled with the way things are run at the level they are currently working. The only way to fix things is to move to more managerial positions. ...


36

As it turns out, membership in fraternities is not, in general, strongly correlated with rape. Rather, it appears that a large percentage of sexual assault is committed by a very small fraction of men who are deliberate predators, who tend to seek out environments where their behavior is enabled by people either turn a blind eye to their behavior or who are ...


34

Such a petition is something that a department head or dean would take seriously. But at most universities, it would be their decision what action to take, if any; a petition wouldn't obligate them to make a change. Consider that if such petitions were binding, it would give the students an undue amount of leverage over the professor; if they got a ...


34

Oftentimes, these administrative positions are only temporary and after a while, professors having such positions will become regular professors again. This means that they can (1) work on improving their department, (2) perhaps get a higher salary for some time, (3) get reduced teaching load, and (4) help to grow their professional network within the ...


33

Actually, I don't think the most important thing to convey to the powers that be is that you have a valid reason to have admin rights. More important is to convince them that you will handle the admin rights in a responsible way. The trick is to convey the latter while ostensibly writing about the former. Think about it from their point of view. They are ...


27

Putting in place a better system for evaluating teaching than today's student evaluation forms would be a good start. Getting serious about the assessment of student learning outcomes (rather than simply assigning grades) would also be extremely helpful.


26

While there can be benefits for being the head of a department, at many US R1 STEM departments, I think the most frequent reason for becoming head is because some one has to do it. Further, turning down an offer to become head likely means that someone less capable, or at least that you view as less capable, will take it. In my experience, academics do not ...


26

The details are likely institution (and or state) specific. From the University of New Mexico Faculty Handbook one sees that the options there are: "Adequate Cause", including academic incompetence, neglect of duty, serious violation of policy, serious crime, loss of license (medical), or other serious deficiency. Financial emergency - that is, the ...


26

[A student wrote] a diary for a famous American serial killer... graphically detail[ing] the killings this man performed, including hand sketches of female genetilia... [The student will likely receive] a fairly high grade on the project. It seems like the student should be commended for their account of historic events. It is a horrifically disturbing ...


25

You are being set up for a blinded attack on your department's space, resources, and -- ultimately -- prestige. Unless you plan to retire soon, you should fight back strongly. Prepare a strong argument supporting your department's need for more space than it has. You should probably ask for a particular room, or a specific amount of square footage. A strong ...


24

Contact your department, CC'ing your advisor. It happened to me once: I was paid over the summer by my department even if I was out of the US for an internship at a company research lab in Europe. I came back in September and found additional money in my US account. I told our administrator. she figured out what happened and she told me that in case I had ...


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