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An easy question (or maybe not)

As you may have noted in a recent musing, I am a bit frustrated by the way the College is treating the incoming faculty [1]. So I decided to have a bit of pretend fun. When years in which I do not have summer students, I am officially on a nine-month contract. So I decided to ask: Faculty are on nine-month contracts. What are those nine months?

Now, I had no intent of doing much with that knowledge. I figure that if I push too hard, someone will decide that I should not have access to my email or office during the other three months. And I continue to plan to work outside my normal nine-month contract - I will work with research students in most summers.

But I still thought it would be fun to know. And so I asked our ASA to ask the Dean’s office. I should have said Don’t say that it’s me who is asking. But I didn’t. And so she said something like Sam wants to know when his contract runs. Now, the Dean’s office staff are smart. They said I’m not touching that question with a ten-foot pole.

So I made the next call. HR is supposed to know about our contracts, and I called them. They started by trying to pawn the question off on the Dean’s office. The Dean’s office keeps track of that information. I said The Dean’s office doesn’t seem to be able to find that information. They asked, Don’t you have your contract? I said I got one contract from the College, and that was more than twenty years ago. I have no idea where it is [3], I’m pretty sure that it didn’t say anything about those details [4,5]. So they looked a bit. The first thing they said was, I have your contract from last year [6]. It says nothing about the dates. They also saidWe’re trying to scan old documents to put them online, but haven’t gotten as far back as your start date [7]."

So I tried the next logical question: You have contracts for the new faculty, don’t you? What do those say? As you might expect, those are also unclear, although they do specify a start date, most typically of August 1 [8]. But doesn’t that mean that nine months will be done at the end of April? HR said that they thought the nine months run from September 1 to May 31. But doesn’t that mean that I shouldn’t have to teach in August? I suggested that our contract runs approximately August 15 to May 15, but they seemed to believe that months have to start on the first.

So back to the Dean’s office. They know that I’m a PITA [9], so they repeated the I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole statement. But they did agree that it’s reasonable for me to know what my expected term of work is. And so they are looking into it and have promised to get back to me.

As follow up, I’ve looked at the Faculty Handbook. It is silent on the matter. If I don’t hear back from the Dean’s office in two weeks, I may ask the Archivist to look back at faculty meeting minutes. Some time during President Osgood’s tenure, a change in tax code meant that we could no longer choose between being paid for our nine months over nine months, or being paid for those same nine months over twelve months. So perhaps we documented what the nine months are at that time.

Oh well, as I said earlier on, Grinnell runs on good will and trust, rather than rules and contracts.

And no, Michelle, I am not trying to get myself fired.

[1] I’m also frustrated by the ways in which the College [2] treats a variety of people at times.

[2] I say the College, because when things feel institutional, I have trouble thinking of it as something a person would do.

[3] Amazingly, Elaine Marluff still knows where hers is.

[4] My memory is that my contract had an amount and a statement that everything else was contained in the Faculty Handbook.

[5] Elaine confirmed that it didn’t have anything about the details.

[6] It’s not a contract. It’s a statement of what my salary will be. In my world, contracts need to be signed by both parties.

[7] It’s been twenty years. I understand. I also know that it won’t matter.

[8] Some have a start date of July 1.

[9] Pain in the neck.

Version 1.0 of 2017-07-21.