Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Service Credit (and a short lab rant)

My labs are still not done. I'm only going to complain about this for one paragraph, I promise. They were supposed to be done two weeks ago, and every day (my office is across the hall) I see that they aren't done. I check on them multiple times a day, because I have nothing else to do. Well, not quite true, but as my office is quickly filling up with boxes, I have a constant reminder that my labs aren't done. And when my office door is open, I see the workers walking by my office and reading the posters in the hallway. Now, I'm all for people outside of science learning about science. But considering the time they have spent reading the posters, they should be able to give presentations on the work by now. Anyway, I'll stop.

What I really want to share is that when I taught the freshman seminar/class last week, I got paid $500 for 3 hours of teaching. When I signed up to teach the class, I thought this was awesome (as I'm sure everyone who is reading this right now does).

But when I started trying to update my CV this week - I'm giving several talks this fall and have published/submitted a couple papers - I realized that this seminar didn't count as service because we got paid and it didn't count as a class because they didn't hand out official teaching evaluations. Apparently, in order for something to be service, you have to do it for free, which I think is kind of restrictive (for example, the present case). And because this was at my home institution, it doesn't count as a talk/seminar.

So, it doesn't count as anything - not a talk, not a seminar, not service, not a class. It doesn't fit under any heading. All because they paid me $500. I'll give the $500 back to get the service credit, especially since I need some service credits (which are low on time commitment). And this one would be an "easy" one, especially as it is already completed. And it involves undergrads, which always makes people happy since most faculty don't like the undergrad population!

After the program ended, the organizer asked for suggestions, and I suggested that they not pay us so we could get the service credit. He said that wasn't an option - when they tried not paying, they couldn't get faculty. I actually find that kind of funny. $500 was an enticement in May, when I was still on my post-doc salary, and $500 represented a large portion of my salary. Now, $500 represents a small portion, and I'll probably use it to purchase things for the lab - the fridge, microwave and coffee maker for my students. Things I can't put on a grant. And any left over (if there is left over) will go towards group meeting food. But the concept that $500 would be a big enough enticement that it would make/break the decision is rather absurd. Especially for full professors who make at least 2x what I make - most of the profs who taught were full profs.

There is a meeting of the curriculum committee - which I also got assigned to (yeah, service credit!) - next week. Maybe I'll suggest that they hand out forms (student evaluation forms) at the end of the seminar, so that the profs can get teaching credit. Though that probably won't work either. Since the course has 0 units, how do you assign the evaluation "grade" to the course?

Or maybe, getting paid could be optional... I would have chosen to not get paid and elected to count it as service, if given the choice. That may be the best option.

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