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A statement on other significant activities for my triennial review

As I’ve noted recently, I am up for my triennial salary review this year. I’ve posted a context statement, a teaching statement, and a statement on scholarly activities. The report form doesn’t really include space for a statement about service [1]. Today’s musing is my response to one of the final questions on the form, one of the most open-ended questions [2]. In it, I brag I a bit about two things that I’ve spent a lot of time doing over the past few years. Please bear with me.

If the above have missed any significant activities during the review period, you may describe them here.

There are two significant activities that don’t really seem to be covered by the materials above.

Although I refer to myself as a campus curmudgeon, what I really mean is that I pay attention to things and raise issue when they need to be raised. I do not have a complete list. Here is a representative sampling of issues that I raised and helped the College address during the review period. 1. Student Affairs was not depositing handbooks in the College archives; that lack would have had an impact on future studies of policies at the College; I later heard from an associate dean that our accreditation does require that such handbooks are in the archives. 2. We spent six months with a broken fire door in Noyce. It appears that my comment to Mike Latham that this was both dangerous and also likely to impact prospective students touring campus seems to have triggered a change. 3. Athletics was auto-captioning the videos on its Web site, but not paying attention to what the captions were; the meant that we had text in student athlete videos that things like I like my breasts and [student name] is a criminal. 4. [Group] conducted a study of student usage of [a building on campus] using PCard building access data; I pointed out that such a study violated what we were promised about the PCard data and likely violated current policy. I continue to push on the issue of unannounced and significant changes to our PCard data access policy. The need for someone to pay attention continues. As you know, this year the Dean’s office tried to make a significant change to [process described in faculty handbook] without consulting the faculty; it seems that if I had not known to push back, and had not pushed back, no one would have [3].

I’ve also been writing a daily public musing [4] for the past year or so. Some of those essays serve a particular purpose: For example, I hear from Admissions that they point students to a few of the essays I’ve written about a Grinnell education or about CS at Grinnell. But the regular writing serves a variety of broader purposes. They model for students the importance of thinking actively and taking time to write. Alumni, including many I’ve never met, tell me that the essays keep them connected to Grinnell. Staff from a variety of departments tell me that they give some insight into the way faculty think. Some staff have even asked me to use the essays as a platform to raise their concerns, since I can do so from the safety of tenure. There was a period in which I did daily profiles of Grinnellians. Those were some of my most important essays, and I should return to them.

I don’t really think either of those activities need to be compensated in my salary calculation. But the triennial review is my primary opportunity to report on my career, and both those activities currently play a significant role in my career [5].

There is one other implicit open-ended statement in the review document. As part of our annual Faculty Activities Reports, we are encouraged to write a needs statement [7,8]. Copies of those show up in the salary review report. I usually remove the three needs statements and replace them with a single statement. That statement speaks to enough political issues at Grinnell that I am not comfortable releasing it publicly [9].

[1] That’s a bit surprising, given that one of the purposes of the report is for faculty to plan for the next there years. At the very least, the form should include a question like In one to two paragraphs provide your service goals for the next three-year period.

[2] Is it a good idea to give faculty an open-ended question on a form in which they are arguing for a raise or, perhaps more importantly, in which it feels like the only time that anyone is paying attention to what they do? If someone is going to pay attention, it’s probably a good idea.

[3] A colleague implied that I seem to have a bit of a crusader complex (my words, not theirs). They are probably right. I don’t think they were suggesting it’s a good thing.

[4] Yup, these things you are reading.

[5] Yes, the I don’t need these to be compensated is in what I wrote for the salary review committee [6].

[6] It wasn’t there originally, but as I was updating the section for this musing, I decided it belonged.

[7] I will admit that I’m not sure we’re encouraged to write a needs statement. There was a Needs section on the pre-Sedona FARs and there’s an opportunity to enter them in Sedona, so I enter them for each FAR.

[8] There used to be a prompt. Can I find it? Yup. Briefly describe needs for support for scholarship, curricular, or pedagogical needs that are not likely to be met by the standard support process.

[9] As hard as it may be to believe, there are things that I don’t consider it appropriate to reveal in a public musing.

Version 1.0 of 2017-11-02.