August 5, 2013


Volume 7, Issue 41 – August 5, 2013


Dog Days

August in Georgia is really an annoying month.  It should be the last month of summer vacation, but instead, both K-12 and college classes start up again during the hottest time of the year.  What’s up with that?  In most places, classes start around Labor Day, and it’s my understanding that until relatively recently, that’s how it was around here too.  I’m not sure why it changed, but whoever is in charge should change it back.


Quiet Time at SPSU

Lots of people are taking their summer vacations now, so things are relatively quiet and you can get a lot done without too much in the way of interruptions.  There’s a lot of paperwork still coming through—new part-time faculty EIF’s, critical hire forms for the last couple of full-time temps, departments ordering things for the fall, renewals of contracts, reimbursement forms for summer travel, and reimbursement of new faculty moving expenses.  What would we do without all this paperwork?  And sometimes, even when we think we’re done with it, we’re not—someone calls and says: “what happened to such-and-such a form?” Nine times out of ten, we’ve already sent it on so we have to track down where else in the campus bureaucracy it may have gotten stuck.

It seems I just finished with a stack of pre-tenure and post-tenure reviews, and I’m now confronted with a stack of reappointment documents.  When they’re done, there’ll be another set of reappointments and then come the promotion and tenure applications.  We definitely evaluate each other an awful lot.  Many would say too often.  Let’s see—on campus, there are the student course reviews each semester, the annual reviews, the reappointments, and the P&T documents, the various accreditation reviews, and the reviews of our goals and how well they were accomplished.  Is there even a moment that one or another isn’t happening?  Almost all of them flow through my office, either being generated or being evaluated.

Off campus, the BoR is reviewing the Complete College Georgia updates, the comprehensive program reviews, which degrees are currently being offered, low productivity degrees, and new program proposals.  We just sent in our “annual” substantive change letter to SACS, telling them about degree programs that just got approved and what we’re planning on doing in the future.  Our five-year review from SACS will be gearing up soon.

So, if you’re reading the BLAB while you’re on vacation, sunning yourself on the beach or up relaxing up in the mountains, just think of us back on campus with endless piles of paper to be processed, and have a good laugh.  You’ll be back to work soon enough.



Partners in Crime

On Saturday, I had lunch at the local pizza joint and ran into Dave Cline and some of his family there, as I had several times in the past.  Dave Cline, recently retired Director of Institutional Research, was one of my partners in crime in filling out tons of reports over the past years.  He could always be counted on to do an accurate job, tracking down the data, helping develop and troubleshoot web reports, and trying to pin down definitions from organizations that want us to report to them, but don’t really tell us what they want to know.  Dave retired a few weeks ago and by all appearances is enjoying himself, no doubt watching lots of old science fiction movies and spending lots of quality time being grandpa.

A second partner in crime also just retired, namely Steve Hamrick.  Steve, as everyone knows, was the University’s Registrar, but part of his duties was also being Assistant to the VPAA, and Steve helped me with many things, especially as related to student issues.  Many policies can be interpreted in more than one way, and even more policies have gaps in them where they don’t tell you what to do in a particular instance.  Steve was great in handling these things—always making sure he held up his professional obligations as a registrar, but also never forgetting that he was dealing with human beings whose lives were being affected by the decisions we were called on to make.  Steve served on the extended Deans Council, and his suggestions and comments were always worth hearing.  It was very strange being at graduation this Saturday without him sitting next to me.

Finally, the last of my partners in crime who recently retired is Barry Birckhead, our Dean of Students.  I worked with Barry on quite a number of things, including various student (mis-)behavior issues and on the recently adopted student honor code.  Barry was an interesting mixture of tough and kind, never letting students get away without taking responsibility for what they had done, but always willing to give a second chance to those who had learned the appropriate lesson.  Barry was SPSU’s representative to RACSA (Regents Advisory Committee on Student Affairs), and we’d attend the RACSA/RACAA summer meetings together each summer.  I still remember running into Barry at the first RACSA/RACAA meeting I ever attended—when he was unloading his car, I saw that his trunk was filled with coolers of beer.  “Be prepared is my motto,” he said.

All three were also members of the faculty-staff band, with Dave Cline on lead vocals and guitar accompaniment, Steve Hamrick on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Barry Birckhead on drums and announcements.  They were kind enough to invite me to sit in with the group when they heard I had bought a guitar, thereby accomplishing a goal I never thought I would except in a dream—playing in a rock band in front of an audience.  I’ll miss you guys, and hope to rune into all three of you frequently.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest was on the subject “Birds”, and our winner was Alan Gabrielli, who has won his share in the past, with all five correct.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Three-time NBA MVP for the Boston Celtics.  Larry Bird
  2. Major influenza pandemic, it started in 2003 in Asia.  Bird flu
  3. Claimed that his expeditions were the first to reach the north and south poles, though this is now disputed.  Admiral Richard E. Byrd
  4. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a song by They Might Be Giants.  Birdhouse in Your Soul
  5. New York Jazz club founded in 1949, it’s called the “Jazz Corner of the World”.  Birdland



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on completing the following puns.  The number of missing words are given in parentheses.  I’m guessing the winner will only need to get two or three of them–prove me wrong!  The prize is a Moody Blues DVD.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. When I asked the dermatologist when the red patch on my skin would clear up, he wouldn’t commit to a specific date, because he didn’t want to make any                            (one word) promises.
  2. I once read a novel about a woman with a small garden, but it didn’t have much of a                              (one word).
  3. When someone observed the theft of several bolts of cloth from the clothing factory, the police held him as a                                      (two words).
  4. Support your right to                                            (two words).  Wear short sleeves.
  5. When the toilets were stolen from the police station, the police said they couldn’t solve the crime, since they had                                          (four words).
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