Gas station without pumps

2010 September 16

Faculty retreat

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:20
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We had a faculty retreat today—actually a faculty and staff retreat for all the faculty and staff in the division.  Because of budget cuts, the “retreat” was held on-campus in one of our lecture halls, but they did serve us a decent breakfast.

The retreat itself was incredibly boring: 3 presentations by senior administrators, which made it clear that there was only one thing of importance to them: money. (In all fairness, the state’s inability to pass a budget does make money of more than passing concern to administrators at state-funded universities.)

The presentations were also a bit embarrassing professionally. The dean apologized at least 5 times for having put the wrong set of slides on the laptop and turned his back on the audience every time he fiddled with the slides.  Some slides had such microscopic fonts that they were not readable from the front row.  (He apologized for that also, and then read us some of the numbers on the slide.)  One slide had several microscopic tables and four 3D tilted pie charts—one of the stupidest presentation formats for comparing data ever invented.  Oh, and he used a lapel mike and kept turning his head so that his voice cut in and out, in a room with good enough acoustics that no one with an ordinary speaking voice would need a microphone.

The microphone performance was topped by the university relations person, who held the lapel mike in her hand and waved it around, so that the sound cut in and out even faster.  I finally had to ask her not use the mike, since it was that or run screaming from the room. At least she gave a fairly clear talk once she put the mike down, and her slides were not such an amateur-hour effort.

But was either performance really worth the entire morning for 100 people, all of whom had real work to do?

I’ve been to many faculty retreats over the years, and perhaps my memory is going, but I seem to remember much more productive meetings under our first dean.  Useful planning was done and departments all had their first department meetings for the year.  Our second dean replaced these with totally useless management exercises, and our latest dean seems to have gone to the approach of telling us what he wants us to hear (most of which is about $), but not actually having us do anything with the information.


  1. So we had a department meeting today where our new Teaching Quality Coordinator read out some questions to ponder, verbatim from PowerPoint slides.

    Comment by Anonymous — 2010 September 16 @ 20:39 | Reply

  2. […] in the room are fine, and no microphone is needed. Particularly bad examples happened at our faculty retreat this […]

    Pingback by Speaking loudly « Gas station without pumps — 2011 April 30 @ 11:00 | Reply

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