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Oh, Academia, You Won’t Miss Me Either, Will You?

Here is a summary of why I really really hope I can find meaningful livelihood outside of academia, in one event:

(Background: Long-time readers will know that I became unemployed when the college at which I held my most recent 1-year contract decided to eliminate my position altogether.)

The college has been forced to cancel the classes I taught because they could not find any adjuncts to teach them.

Ha.  Take that m**f**cka!

No, really, I don’t feel that strongly…


Well,  here’s the thing:  everyone knew it was next to impossible to find people qualified to teach Computer Graphics who will also do so for adjunct pay at that suburban campus – what with the mind-numbing rush hour commute times and all.  I told them so.  My predecessor also told them so.  The dean told me he was told so…  Because, unlike old-school media studio artists (my own background), the people who can teach digital media can find other jobs.  And all jobs pay better than adjunct teaching.  Some even offer health care!

So… so, here’s the other thing:

I was hired at the same time as one other art faculty, to replace two retirements, who comprised an art department of two people.  I, because I studied painting then got into digital media in order to incorporate printmaking with it, can teach all of the art classes offered at that campus.  The other guy can only teach painting/drawing (and the studio foundations that is non media specific).

More so, I have more experience than he does.

More more so, I was hired at a higher academic rank, by standard HR formula, than he was.

So, who got the permanent contract and who got the 1-year?  Who did I just say is unemployed?

I was told, quietly, that the decision was “controversial”, whatever that means.

Now that I’ve said that, however, let me also say that this other art faculty is now a good friend and a very good teacher.  He does deserve a good, permanent faculty job.  And, he is certainly better at teaching drawing than I am.  So, no disparaging here, got it?

But, who is unemployed and what college is left without faculty to teach their classes?


Stupidity #3 about same event:  The college actually did find and offer a position to someone to teach my former classes.  But, HR denied his hiring because his MFA is in video and he doesn’t have “computer” or “design” in enough of his course transcripts.  Sound reasonable?  Not to me.  I taught those classes (and significantly updated them), and I don’t have a single computer-related art course on any of my transcripts at all, grad or undergrad!  The adjunct candidate, on paper, is a more appropriate match, if you understand how videos are made, or if you bother to call someone who does – which this HR apparently didn’t.  And moreover on this facet of dumbness, the course content summaries that define those courses say, “teaches the use of microcomputers to make art work appropriate for a portfolio”.  I.e., “vague to the point of meaningless”.  (And, yes, it does say “microcomputers”.)  I would argue that within a contemporary context, a person could actually teach them as video classes without running afoul of the official document.

So, in what may be stupidity #4, enrollment in the Computer Graphics courses was modest at best when I arrived at the college.  You see, my predecessor, who filled the familiar role of the painter-who-is-really-a-painter who took on digital media in order to help the college transition, taught the exact same thing in Computer Graphics 1 and Computer Graphics 2.  CG1 was collage in Photoshop and CG2 was just do the same thing again but do it better…  That, and it had a 100% technical and maybe 75% conceptual overlap with the digital imaging course offered by the Photo department.   I changed them to Photoshop + Illustrator with new concepts in CG 1, and to animation & interactivity in Flash in CG 2.  The kids loved it.  But, alas, the decision to eliminate my position was made during my first semester, before my efforts could produce any evidence.

What’s so stupid about that, you ask?  Well, everyone involved has acknowledged that the computer-based offerings are the most significant growth area for the art department.  They also most directly target college-wide initiatives.  Every one has said that what they need is a dynamic instructor to build them up and promote them over a long term.  Now, they’re lamenting the difficulty of finding that in a person who is under an adjunct’s constraints (if they find any adjunct at all) and with one full-time art faculty who doesn’t know anything about the digital end of the field.  Well… they already had what they were looking for- they got rid of him without any consideration of what he actually did while he was there!

There are other stupidities corollary to those events; other things to rant about.  But, I’ll spare you.  The real question, you know, is will the next place I work be any better?

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