The Faculty Meeting,
Why I Now Build Houses For a Living
Lester L. Weil
was very busy. My mimeographed agenda for the faculty meeting was lying before me and I diligently filled in all the letters with my pencil. Some meetings I’d only do vowels, but today looked like there was a long meeting ahead, so I figured I’d better do them all.
“The extant total package per se, you see, is but a token effort and the parameters…” Professor Johns was on his feet moving to the blackboard. He had probably spent half an hour writing a detailed outline, with annotations, of his latest project to involve the greatest amount of funding that he could grab hold of. Of course he expected everyone in the department to ante up contingency funds.
“I cannot help but feel that it is in the student’s best interests…” Another voice heard from. Jacobs was as big a fraud as Johns. They continually ran on about student’s interests, but the best interests of the students came just below “which font to be used on the agenda” when ranking the relative importance of things in the universe. Luckily Johns’ scheme to garner funds and prestige was going to fail miserably. Not because it was a stupid waste of time and money, but because he could not put together a big enough voting bloc. Of course the projects that would be funded would be just as useless to the students, but would be in the best interests of other, better organized, factions.
The meeting was almost over. Thanks to the wisdom of tradition, the meetings were always held before lunch hour. The department chairman began the last item on the agenda.
“I know that some of our younger staff may not be aware of it, but our funding in the department is tied directly to our student/teacher ratio.” How could we not be aware, this being brought up at every other faculty meeting. “I think it behooves us to encourage our students to take as many units within the department as we can. We have plenty of elective courses …” I tried to tune him out, but today’s lecture was definitely aimed at me.
In the past week I had encouraged several students to quit wasting their time (plus incurring gross debt via student loans), and drop out of school until they got some sense of what they wanted to accomplish with their life. My efforts had not gone unnoticed by the department head.
Lunch hour finally saved me and we filed out of the conference room. Going down the hall, Andy, the piano technician, slapped me on the back.
“How does it feel to be a short-timer, Sam?”
For the first time that day I smiled.
First published: October 1997