Friday, October 24, 2008
In implementing the current round of budget cuts, the first task has been to get every example of a few categories of expense on a single list, so we can prioritize. This is harder than you might think. I've already had several meetings that have gone pretty much like this:
DD: “Okay, so now we finally have everything, right?”
Colleague 1: “Right.”
DD: “Good. So our total is...”
C1: “Wait! What about [bizarre, byzantine exception]?”
C1: “That started several years ago, when [long-gone admin] told [litigious tenured prof] that if he did [something he didn't want to], he would get [plum] every [so often]”
C2: “My area does that differently. We do the plums twice as often!”
C3: “And I stopped giving them out two years ago, based on a conversation with [other long-gone admin]”
C1: “Is that why [other tenured prof] is always complaining about unequal treatment?”
Repeat for several hours, until the living envy the dead.
Every time we turn over a rock, something nasty and slimy and awful crawls out. Worse, the nasty thing manages to dislodge another rock.
The long-term good news, I keep telling myself, is that eventually we'll run out of rocks. Eventually, all the nasty and slimy stuff will be exposed, and we can get a handle on it and move forward. And replacing all the slimy stuff with transparent and aboveboard arrangements will be more sustainable, once we overcome the inertial resistance.
That's what I keep telling myself.
But I'll admit, at the end of a day like this, it's a stretch. There's just an amazing number of rocks out there, and it's tiring. And each little slimy discovery mounts its own defense.
It it really still only October?