It’s Mardi Gras week! That doesn’t have a thing to do with Promoted to Death, but I figured it’s as good a reason as any to post an excerpt. 😀 The book is still on schedule for a May publication date. Here’s a little something to wet your whistle.
To set the scene, Pete has just come home from work, having picked up dinner from a Middle Eastern restaurant near Santa Monica College.
In the kitchen, I unbagged the food while Pete opened bottles of beer for both of us. I said, “Baklava! Yum.”
“I figured we both deserved it.” He flopped down at the table and took a long drink.
“A kerfuffle, huh?”
“Yeah.” He took a bite of dolmeh. “The agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting is out. It’s a special meeting to approve faculty promotions.”
“Curtis got promoted. Elaine didn’t.”
Curtis Glover and Elaine Pareja were two of Pete’s fellow psychology instructors. I’d met Elaine at a wedding two years ago and didn’t care for her. I said, “You expected that outcome, right?”
Pete said, “Yeah, but apparently Elaine didn’t. I heard her yelling in Verlene’s office as I was leaving. Elliott was with them.” Elliott Conklin was the assistant chair of Pete’s department.
I swiped a section of pita bread through hummus. “But that doesn’t mean she has to resign, right? She can apply again?”
“It depends. This was a third-phase evaluation, meaning that she’s been rated twice by two separate panels as ‘needs continued evaluation’ and has been on an improvement plan for two years. Getting turned down this time means the decision goes to the president and academic dean.”
“The improvement plan didn’t work.”
“Not to the satisfaction of the panel.”
I knew that promotion applications at SMC were evaluated by a panel of three other faculty members. “Were you ever on her panel?”
Pete grimaced as he sliced into a dolmeh. “No, thank God.”
“Why does she continue to get turned down?”
“There are a lot of factors that go into the decision. Retention rates, course materials, professional development activities, self-assessments, student evaluations, peer evaluations, collegiality, service to the college.”
I said, “I suppose collegiality isn’t her strong suit.” Pete had described Elaine to me as a “suck-up” to the administration in the past.
“Right. Plus she flunks about 40% of every class, her student evaluations are consistently terrible, and she’s weak in professional development. The conferences she goes to aren’t related to what she teaches, she’s the only person in the department without a doctorate, and she has regular meltdowns in department meetings.”
He snorted. “You name it. Last time it was because Verlene wouldn’t approve a separate printer for her office.”
“Why can’t she use the department printer?”
“Exactly.” Pete picked up a slice of baklava. “She’s unstable, in my opinion.”
“Another example of someone who majored in psychology to figure out her own problems?”
“I don’t think Elaine believes that she has any problems. Everyone else is the problem.”
“Ugh. So – no promotion, no raise?”
“She’ll receive her step raise, if they don’t fire her, but she won’t get the bigger bump for moving from group II to group III. If she’d get a Ph.D., she’d automatically move to group VII.”
Pete had told me that at SMC, salary was determined by years of service and the classification group you were in. Group classification was based on education and experience. The higher the group number, the higher the salary. Ph.D.s were automatically assigned to the highest group.
I said, “Without a Ph.D., can she ever reach Professor?”
“She could, but not until the end of her 20th year on faculty. And that’s assuming she made Associate Professor this time. Which she hasn’t.”
“Sounds to me like she’d recoup the cost of a Ph.D., if it would move her to the highest group.”
Pete said, “The college would pay for it. But she’s so stubborn. She may have decided against it just because Verlene advised it.” He sighed. “Damn. The atmosphere at the office will be tense.”