Friday, March 30, 2007

Next on "Associate Dean Drama Theatre"

You know, all I want is to be finished with this goddamn thing. Really. Sadly however, in the last couple of weeks, the "AD Drama" plot has thickened to a heretofore unseen level of festering, moldy, curdled and reeking cesspool. Turns out the new AD-free structure for dissertation committees is still under consideration and hasn't been voted on yet, so it hasn't been announced, meaning there's no time to drop the offending committee member via that method if I'm to be finished in time to graduate in July. Then, due to situations beyond my control, the job of finding someone else to work was going to fall in my lap, and even though the issues really don't have anything to do with me, I was supposed to do it without telling anyone the reasons why yet another personnel change is necessary for my project.

-Wait. What? Back up.

In our previous installment, Much Beloved and Brilliant Reader #2 refused to work with Dr. New AD. When asked who he would work with, he suggested Dr. FunnyName, so I sent him an email asking him to play (careful not to reveal anyone's malice), but he turned me down because he's too busy with his own students. I can respect that. That left me with either Dr. Chest-Starer (who creeps out all of the busty students, not just me) or Dr. TooSickToBeAvailable-Ever. Now Dr. TooSick was my first AD. I fired her because she was never available. Something always took precedence over any meeting we scheduled: knee surgery, bad hair day, hip surgery, just plain forgot, stomach bug, toe surgery, allergies, head cold, another hysterectomy - the list was endless, so I found someone I could work with who was healthy and available and interested not only in my research but in getting me finished. As mentioned before, that guy took another job with more money and fewer hassles. Can't blame him, really. Nevertheless, it's left me vulnerable to any number of potential train wrecks. I picked Dr. New AD because since he was the new guy I didn't think he'd been there long enough to make any enemies but that day was clearly "opposite day." Apparently the guy is like a pet raccoon: what he doesn't fuck up he shits on. I need Reader #2 for his neuropsychological expertise, Dr. New AD is expendable. -But how to get him kicked off the island?

So here I am, stuck in the middle of a fucked up situation that has nothing to do with me but I'm paying for it in time, money, energy and frustration. Yay - higher cortisol levels for me! My favorite! Of the two remaining choices, my dissertation chair prefers Dr. TooSick because she'll roll over and do whatever the chair wants (a definite plus) and so far Reader #2 hasn't responded to my email about his preference. Madame chair's going out of town so she leaves it up to me to find out what the proper steps are to make the personnel switch and get a new AD by myself with only the 2 left to pick from, and I'm not allowed to say why. Yeah. Thanks for the nod to my level of competence, but this bullshit game of musical dissertation committee personnel gives the impression that I'm the problem, not them.

So whatever did you do, drsharna?

Well kiddos, lemme tell you. There's a little-known minion within the adminisphere at my school called a Dissertation Coordinator. Her job is to make sure all the steps are followed so that dissertations get completed smoothly, properly and on time. She's also a huge student advocate, which I learned when it was necessary for me to fire my first dissertation chair. After careful analysis of the situation, I decided that my committee executed the mortal sin of unsportsmanlike behavior by putting me in the position they did and that ultimately it would not be in my best interest to cover for them. I called the Dissertation Coordinator and without blaming anyone, I told her everything. Since she's the official go-to person for committee personnel change, she can't help me if she doesn't know the whole story.

She informed me that Dr. ChestStarer is going on a month-long vacation pretty soon (...wonder what that's like?), so he's out, leaving me only with Dr. TooSick - if she'll agree to participate, that is. She then rattled my chair's cage, informed her of our conversation and told her to contact Dr. TooSick and explain the situation. I received an email from Madame Chair late last night stating that Dr. TooSick agreed to play but that she is not considering her as part of the "core committee." This means that all she has to do is sign off on the final document once the others reach agreement, and they've already decided that they're going to reach agreement. While in the grand scheme of things this is really great news, my excitement is diminished because of the fucking hassle it's become.

The proposal is due Sunday and I'm on track to have that in for committee review - no sweat. The problem is that the committee then has 30 days to review it then they all have to get together to approve it. There are a few other glitches, too. Instead of the June 1 completion date suggested by Reader #2, the final document must be submitted by the first or second week in May. Which means, provided they want no further revisions to the proposal, I'll have to write up the results and discussion sections in just a few days. No pressure or anything. Now before you hyperventilating and breaking out in sympathy shingles on my behalf, be aware that I have done a lot of work on the front-end of this process. The hospital and school Institutional Review Boards have both already approved my research and the data are archival, so they've already been collected. All I have to do is crunch the numbers, interpret them and report the results. Properly motivated, and considering that I am really good at making things happen on really short notice, I might be able to get it done after all. Wish me luck.

I just wish it weren't such a goddamn cluster fuck to get there.

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Natalia said...

I can't even gt my chair to sign himself and me up for IRB training. This, as you can appreciate, sucks because I can't do the proper collection of data from human subjects without the proper IRB training, which I don't know when I'll be able to take. My chair is busy with his tenure folder and one of the members of my committee has just been appointed director of our program because the other guy, who was there only as a result of the first guy being demoted, was too fed up to keep doing it. So, of course, she is now super busy. One of my other committee members is in Canada and he can only meet on a conference call.

So, I feel like a headless chicken. And I don't like it. I don't need coddling, certainly...but I need a little bit of help from the people whose job it is to help me navigate the red tape and politics of academia.

I sooooo feel you.


drsharna said...

I'm with you, hon. With the exception of Statsguy, who's in Manhattan and my external, who's on the East coast, everyone else is on the California coast. I'm sort of near-ish to Dallas. I don't mind the distance because it keeps them from breathing down my neck but at the same time, I really had to jump up and down to get on their radar - out of sight, out of mind, you know. Sometimes you just have to be aggressive to get your needs met, especially with self-absorbed academic types ;o)

The CheesePad has been added you to my Hellfire & Brimstone links.

Slick said...

After reading this...I'll never go back to school.

Does this post come with a tutor?? :)

drsharna said...

Oh slick, honey - I feel your pain and confusion. I need a translator half the time, too. It would appear that membership in Mensa alone is not enough to get one through a doctoral dissertation.

My next post is about a sex movie - maybe that will be easier on you, but then again - maybe not.


Dr X said...

I can just tell that my old recurring nightmare is going recur tonight. I'd thought I was done with it but my palms started to sweat and I got hit with a flashback halfway through that post.

drsharna said...

dr x, honey I sincerely apologize for visiting a flashback upon your head. PTSD isn't just for soldiers anymore, huh?

Surviving Motherhood said...

Christ, I need a lie down after just reading that, don't know how you manage to live through it!

drsharna said...

I get through it because several lifetimes ago someone told me that higher education was basically wasted on me because I am a woman and my function on earth is to stay home and be a wife and mommy. Besides, I couldn't do it anyway. This came from someone who barely graduated high school on the half-day "work program" plan and has never done well for himself. When I divorced his big dumb ass several years later, I made it a point to prove him wrong, and what better way to prove someone wrong than by riding the train all the way to the end? There is no higher degree than a Ph.D. so here I am. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't. I'm oppositional like that.