Sunday, May 16, 2010

Not My Job

  1. Last night I got an email from Frida Kahlo, a student at this university. The entire contents of her email: "Yes, I'm hear to inquire about the letter needed to re-take math courses over the summer. Is there any pre-requisite paperwork to obtain this letter?" I've redirected Frida to the person who now takes care of such things. I think that it's good for the math department that someone new is doing this. There were parts of the job I was very good at and parts that I wasn't so good at. Having someone with different strengths and different flaws sounds like a good idea.

  2. While browsing the web looking for something completely different*, I discovered a bunch of old yearbook photographs from the 1920s taken on the steps of the math building. If I were still putting together flyers for back-to-school meetings, I would use one of these. But I'm not.

  3. It's not just me who is leaving. We typically have about 30 lecturers who teach lower-division courses, and we're losing at least four of us and possibly as many as six (and most of the losses are from the list of people we'd like to keep rather than the list of people we'd like to lose). The amount of teaching done by 30 lecturers is roughly equivalent to 72 second-year grad students (first years can't teach their own course, and teaching load is reduced for grad students who have passed their quals) or 60 tenure-line faculty. There aren't a lot of large classrooms on campus, so serving more students with fewer people is non-trivial. Despite math's role as an honorary member of the humanities, I'm not sure where the math department is going to find that many people with a masters degree or higher in math who are willing to work for what the university pays. If you were a student, would you rather that a department ran as many sections as possible even if some of them were taught by instructors of questionable quality or would you prefer all the teachers to be top-rate but for classes to fill up early in pre-registration?

*And then, on another tangent, I got sucked into the Wikipedia and ended up learning that George Soros is a native speaker of Esperanto.