Department meetings (wow, stop the presses).
Don’t get me wrong, I heart my colleagues, and when we gather for one of these confabs I am filled with a collegial glow … at the beginning. But then we will start talking about a hire we would like to make, and the dean’s likely (negative) response, and someone brings up a procedural point that was actually decided last year, and someone else will rephrase their position in a not especially helpful or especially new way, and old fights will get dusted off and begun anew … and I start furtively eying the Exit sign.
The gospel for last week’s meeting was our forthcoming assessment by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education folks who will in coming months determine whether or not we are up to snuff, and specifically the Mission Statements—for the English dept. itself and for every concentration or program within it—that are now apparently required. These statements have to include the “Outcomes” we are striving for and the means by which we will “Assess” whether they have been achieved (buzz words in quotes).
Our distinguished associate chair addressed the troops and handed out a handout containing a “template” for each concentration’s statement: “The mission of (name of program) is to (state primary purpose) by providing (primary function or activities) to (stakeholders). (Additional clarifying statements.)” Good one. It reminded me of the (probably apocryphal) journalist who, using the well-known crutch “TK”–that is, “to come”–submitted the following article: “A fire broke out yesterday. Rest of story TK.”
The journalism faculty–two of us in flesh, one in spirit–adjourned to a corner of the room and tried to divine our primary purpose, function, activity, and stakeholders. We are still sussing it out; I’ll let you know what we decide.