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It’s not just me!

A few years ago, I started introducing myself as the campus curmudgeon at the start of interviews with people (e.g., for our CITO). It broke the ice a little bit and prepared them for the kinds of questions I tend to ask in interviews. At some interview, one of the other Grinnell interviewers said something like, Sam, is it really fair to call yourself the campus curmudgeon? It seems there are many. So I got a name tag [1].

In reality, I’m not the only curmudgeon. Today’s faculty meeting reminded me of that. I heard curmudgeonly comments at the meeting on (1) the increasing workload that is placed on faculty, which makes doing our core jobs harder; (2) what seem to be attempts to subvert some of our core responsibilities regarding advising; (3) the ways in which the software that the College requires us to use interferes with our ability to advise well; (4) our admissions process; and a bunch of other things that I seem to have forgotten.

I’m not alone!

That is, it appears that I’m not the only curmudgeon.

Amazingly, I don’t even agree with all these curmudgeonly comments. While I agree with the comments on workload and software [2], I actually embrace the ability to have a more formal relationship with colleagues across campus as we collaborate to advise students [3]. I also hadn’t heard about changes to our admissions process; if I had, I’d probably have complained just as vociferously. Or maybe not; these days, I would have talked to Admissions first.

Why are we curmudgeonly? I think the examples suggest the reasons. In recent years, it appears that there have been a variety of changes, both large and small, that seem to negatively affect the work that the faculty most value: teaching and advising [5]. When you affect the things that are core to our work, we get grumpy. But our grumpiness is intended to help move the College forward in positive ways.

I look forward to seeing if there are any positive effects of the curmudgeonly comments. I hope we’ll see some soon.

[1] No. Really. I have an official College nametag that says Samuel A. Rebelsky, Curmudgeon. They won’t let me replicate it on the new nametag stock.

[2] As I’ve said many times, good software makes your work faster and easier. Our software not only makes tasks take longer but, it seems, interferes with some of our abilities to advise well.

[3] Admittedly, I have not taught Tutorial in recent years, so I do not know the exact effects of these changes. But I value my colleagues in both CLS and Student Affairs [4].

[4] My colleagues in CLS know that. I’m not sure that all my colleagues in Student Affairs do.

[5] Most of us also value our scholarly work. I’m not sure that the changes have had as much effect on our scholarship. Well, I guess the changes to our summer compensation may affect some faculty, but I do not expect those effects to be as significant as changes to policies, procedures, and software.

Version 1.0 of 2018-02-19.