Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Manifesto as a Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member

by Ann Abbott

I love my job. I have a wonderful position: Director of Undergraduate Studies. I feel respected on my campus. (I earned that respect, of course.) I am surrounded with resources and inspiration. I wish my department would embrace a more progressive undergraduate curriculum, but, hey, I understand where my colleagues are coming from. I have a fabulous office and work with many great people--not to mention my students who always energize me.

But there's a dark side to being non-tenure track. Sure, there are the contract issues. Honestly, though, that doesn't even worry me too much. (Just a little.) I have always known that I can create another career for myself at any time. Smug? No, I am just confident that I have the smarts, creativity and skills to give another type of employer a lot of value. Or I'd put together something of my own.

Really, it's the little digs that do it to me.

To be honest, they don't come from everyone. But some people really want to put you in your place. (Maybe it's unconscious? I don't know. Don't care.)

Mostly, I just shrug them off. Yes, I fret about them and pour out my hurt feelings to my husband in the evening (or the poor soul who will listen to me on the phone while my husband is still at work.) But after a good night's sleep, I'm usually able to regain my perspective and slip right back into my routine of looking ahead, creating something new, tackling problems like I'm working on a puzzle. That's me.

Sometimes the digs aren't at me. They're at someone else who is NTT. About being NTT. For forgetting her place. Or perhaps the worst: being the best suited person for a position but not even being considered because, you know, NTT.

A couple of really egregious cases have come up lately. Or maybe my consciousness has been raised. I don't know, but I felt the urge to put together my NTT manifesto. It's full of pride. Imagine me SHOUTING it out loud. That's what it is. I'm not angry. (I ain't even angry.) This isn't aimed at anyone. This isn't timed to any particular slight. No, it's just a very clear statement of who I know myself to be!

A very clear statement of who I know myself to be!

(It feels a bit scary to put this out there. I'd love to know what you think. Did I go too far? Is it right to be so assertive?)

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