from the trenches of small collegedom

S. Boomer sarai at
Thu Sep 25 19:53:22 EST 1997

Hello all,

I don't know how much longer I will have access to my UW account (and I
haven't figured out how to get newsgroups on this bloody IBM they gave
me... I am a MAC person!) - but I thought I'd post a quick note.

So - I'm two weeks into my contract here in SUNNY (just recently turned
ugly) Oregon (I'm actually at Western, for the record).  I start teaching
on Monday with a moderately heavy courseload (one full general micro.
class and half the general biology for majors course).  I run one lab by
myself (for the micro. class) and then administer two labs for the general
biology course (these are not my responsibility to design or set up, in
contrast with the micro. class). There are 100 students in bio. and 14 in

I completed about 60% of my lecture materials over the summer, which has
helped a GREAT deal.  I got lazy, though, at the end - and so I am
approaching this quarter with the following philosophy:  keep three weeks
ahead at all times.  My first week in Oregon, prior to beginning the
contract, I settled into my brand new house (which, contrary to a few
people's initial feelings, has been THE BEST distraction - I go out and
till the unlandscaped yard and plant things when I need a break).  My
second week, on contract, I had open time to do whatever I wanted and
spent most of the time setting up my teaching lab (making media, media,
media).  Coming from molecular virology, I have been surprised that I can
still Gram Stain on the first try (it's these damn flagella stains that
just don't work!).  

The second week on contract has been mostly administrative or university
stuff.  Basically, 6-8 hours a day of things like seminars on advising,
insurance, or the rivetting convocation today (they had some guy give THE
best speech I've heard in awhile here - incredible).  I have been
thoroughly enjoying my colleagues and am totally impressed by the vigorous
woman president here - she seems highly respected by the students and

I am still waiting to hear about how much start-up they approve.  After
chewing my nails a few times over budget talks, I started getting a little
nervous that the meagre 8-10K I wrote a proposal for was NOT going to get
funded.  But then the provost approached me at a function and said he
really liked the proposal and I would probably get all the money by the
end of the quarter.  My hope has been to do lab set-up in winter,
troubleshoot stuff in the spring and then actually start some little
research in the summer.

The dept. head is holding my hand through a small money equipment grant
with the NSF - he thinks I would be the perfect one to request a
small-scale DNA sequencer.  We figure we'll get rejected the first time
but why wait.  So - yes, I'm writing a grant.

Well - I think that's about it.  Oh - we're hiring three new bio. faculty
this year (mostly ecology, plant, anatomy types).  I go on search
committees next year to fill another 1-2 positions.  The university hired
14 new tenure track faculty this year, 12 of whom were women.  I thought
I'd heard ever horror story in the book about hiring statistics until I
met this really neat woman in Renaissance literature who claimed there
were 1500 applicants for one position at Notre Dame.  

So - I guess I might have to re-think all my job complaining after that

My new address (which should work is boomers at  Drop me a

Cheers,  Sarah

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