Like so many other schools, LRU is dealing with lower enrollments, budget cuts, and all sorts of bureaucratic nonsense. Not all of this is bad news, at least when considered in the short term and on the ground: smaller classes? Boy howdy! You want to take away one section of my least favorite upper-division class for majors and substitute a lower-division gen-ed class where I can introduce scientists and engineers to some of my favorite stories? Go ahead—make my day!
And some of it I can face with equanimity. Overhaul assorted aspects of the grad program? Sure, fine, whatever; tell me what the new rules are, and I’ll follow them. Only don’t expect me to help make the new rules. I am, as I have been saying for years now (when will you listen?) a cynical old bat. There was a point at which I was all afire for reform. I tried. The Law of Unintended Consequences kicked in. I said phooey; I don’t seem to have the talent for this. So now, if there are eager young just-tenured folks who want to try again, I’ll say, “Go for it. You never know, it might work this time, and if not, well, at least we’ll go to hell in a thoughtful and deliberate way instead of accidentally and piecemeal. I’ll be in my office; call me when the dust settles.”
Excellence without money? Been there, done that: been doing that for most of my career, it seems. Look, I’m happy to teach all the gen-ed classes you like, and to fund my own research besides. I ask only one thing: leave me alone to get on with it. Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, if you don’t have any money to wave at me, then take your fucking learning-outcomes assessment jargon and shove it pointy-wise where the sun don’t shine. I am sick and tired of bureaucratic bullshit getting in the way of actual teaching and learning—my own as well as that of my students—and after twenty years of this, I am all out of patience. All. Out. What dregs I can scrape up go to my students, who are (this blessed term) all enthusiastic and interested. I am truly teaching. They are truly learning. Yes, they make mistakes, and they are young and fun, and so they get my meager stock of patience. They deserve it. You fucking bureaucrats do not, because you are old enough to know better, but apparently you don’t. And so, because I am all out of patience, one of my delightful students will miss out on an opportunity that would increase the sum total of knowledge in the world. The point to research is that you don’t know what you will find. If I could predict the “learning outcome” for this project, nobody would need to do it. You’re counting on my affection for my students, aren’t you? You think that will get me to shovel your assessment manure one more time, don’t you? But you’re wrong. I’m done. I’m going to go plan my super-fun gen-ed class for next year, and get on with my actual real work, and stop playing your goddamn bureaucratic games. Swyve you all.