June
27th 2013
I got your bull$hit–now if you please, some help with the mucking.

Posted under: American history, jobs, students, wankers

I just got back from my trip to find this job announcement in my university email:

The Assistant to the Associate Provost for Educational Attainment is a high-level, limited-term administrative assistant position that offers an opportunity for the right person to play an essential role in supporting educational innovation.  The ideal candidate will value this unique opportunity for professional growth and development within a dynamic time and context, as the University focuses on student success initiatives and serves as the host campus for the Reinvention Center, a national consortium of research universities focused on supporting excellence and innovation in higher education.

Translation, anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Sorry to be such a lazy jerk, but I just flew in from the coast–and man, are my arms tired!  I’ve highlighted the particularly bull$hitty phrases–please do your best to translate.  Is this just a nothing job meant to make the Associate Provost look like he’s doing some work, or is this a real job meant to amass leverage for pushing MOOCs or online ed?

You be the judge–I’m going to bed.

17 Comments »

17 Responses to “I got your bull$hit–now if you please, some help with the mucking.”

  1. Indyanna on 27 Jun 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Hard to know what this is, beyond the obvious fact that the new assistant is going to need a deputy, and the deputy will want to get going on forming an implementation team. Somebody has some use-or-lose money out there that would otherwise have to be spent on books for the library, and *then* we’d have trouble. A CLS (collaborative learning space) would have to be torn out on the first floor to shelve them; students would start to read them, and thereby be less available for group dynamics initiatives activities…. all manner of process entropy.

    Shalala sure can sling it, but the signature line–which occupies fully half of the “message” behind the “reinvention” link–is a study in bureaucratic illiteracy. How many actual people hold how many titles there, and what part do they play in amplifying the “voice” of Shalala handing the thing (whatever it may be) off to Frank? Is there an English professor in the house?

    Great to see the light back on in the blog window, though.

  2. Susan on 28 Jun 2013 at 1:04 am #

    It’s an assistant job, so at a level for a grad student interested in higher Ed, curriculum, assessment. But, oh, would I be tempted to apply with a suggestion for innovation and excellence: investing in the right number of faculty.

    But why are faculty getting notice of a secretarial job? This is an administrative assistant (high level, OK). Where I live that is an entry level job for which you maybe need an AA.

    Welcome home! Rest those wings….

  3. koshembos on 28 Jun 2013 at 1:26 am #

    As far as I can discern, the section is the winning entry in a ad writing campaign in hell. It may have also been written by a Congressional staffer.

  4. Shelley on 28 Jun 2013 at 8:23 am #

    As a writer, I count the sins of educational administrators against language to be among the most serious of their sins.

  5. Knitting Clio on 28 Jun 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but at my university “administrative assistant” is a clerical position (one level about secretary).

  6. Historiann on 28 Jun 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I guess the challenge is for Admin Assistants to understand and interpret this language in their letters of application!

    I’m with you, Shelley and Koshembos: the bureaucratese on display here suggests that professional administrators are less like the faculty they used to be, and more like wannabe CEOs. They read books about corporate management, most of which are just wordstrings of illiterate jargon, which lead them to write things like “Create the verticality that will permit the university to more efficiently monetize its strengths in educational innovation.”

    None of which answers the question: why would an Administrative Assistant “play an essential role in supporting educational innovation?” WTF?

  7. Feminist Avatar on 28 Jun 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Because you don’t get educational innovation if things aren’t filed properly and meetings scheduled appropriately? I think this just means that you should feel important as someone who supports the Ass Provost in doing their job well.

  8. Kathie on 28 Jun 2013 at 10:39 am #

    It reads as if they used a bureaucratic version of this (snarky) site from the U of Chicago Writing Program on writing your own academic sentence: http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/toys/randomsentence/write-sentence.htm, which I thought was a good guide to the words to avoid ;)

  9. Historiann on 28 Jun 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Ha-ha! Brilliant. I’ll have to use that one when I run out of obfuscatory language, Kathie!

  10. Contingent Cassandra on 28 Jun 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Hmm. . .I’m pretty sure that “limited term” + “dynamic time and context” = “we’re going to expect you to work 80 hours a week [while pretending you're working 40 if that's necessary to fulfill legal niceties] and not to complain when your position is eliminated when the project fizzles/short-term money dries up.” “Opportunity for professional growth and development” may also = “the salary’s quite low.”

    Honestly, this one screams “run like hell” to me on a number of frequencies, but what do I know? I’m just an old-fashioned English proffie who thinks that student success might have a good deal to do with (expensive, but perhaps not so expensive as this initiative) things like the amount of time the professor has to spend with each student/student’s work, and the amount of time students have to spend (and actually spend) on said work.

  11. Contingent Cassandra on 28 Jun 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I also tend to read “dynamic” (even when not directly applied to prospective candidates) as code for “you’d better not be fat and/or old” (even if one or more of your prospective bosses are both).

  12. Susan on 28 Jun 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    I bet they hope that no one thinking of applying for that job reads this blog! I thin CC has nailed the working conditions perfectly!

  13. Historiann on 28 Jun 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I agree. CC (and everyone) has done a great job of reading between the lines in this non-English language job description. (Kudos to Indyanna for the pickup on “I need to spend this money now now NOW because the fiscal year is ending” aspect of it all.)

  14. Perpetua on 29 Jun 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    I know this is probably a silly thing to be shocked about in this day and age, but I’m always shocked by the amount of desperate spending at the end of the fiscal year (& how much of the “if we don’t spend it, it will look bad! we can’t have anything left over or they’ll cut our budget!” rules departmental spending). This is esp true at cash strapped state universities. A lot of money is wasted this way.

  15. Historiann on 30 Jun 2013 at 7:25 am #

    No kidding. I wish I had that problem, but of course I ran out of my 2012-13 travel money in NOVEMBER 2012 with two conferences in 2013 yet to get to.

  16. Shaz on 02 Jul 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m so jealous! We just have a “reconstitution committee”, but you have a whole Reinvention Center, with capital letters and everything!

  17. Tenured Radical on 04 Jul 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    The Reinvention Center sounds like a good place to send olde doodes whose paperclips have gotten rusty on ye olde lectures.

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