CHAIR ON HIGH by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Three sabbatical applications. One slot.

The Department Chair taps the manila envelopes into a pile then splays them over her desk like a short deck of cards.

She sips her Tazo Lotus and Zen tea. Dinner. What she’d really like is a porterhouse rare and a Tanqueray martini with extra olives. But like most nights, she’s in her office catching up on administrative detritus. The Dean expects her decision tomorrow morning. Who to choose?

Dr. R-W: The rising star: three graduate students win prestigious dissertation awards, eleven first-author manuscripts, an impressive NIH grant portfolio. Up for promotion to Full Professor in two years but already can check ‘Distinguished’ in service, scholarship, teaching. All while popping out two kids.

Dr. S: Emeritus. Proverbial dead wood, but so agreeable with the Chair – on everything. Smiles a lot. Does as told. Tremendous talent greasing the Dean’s wheels. Aims to re-energize flagging research.

Dr. W: Highly productive, well-connected, funds half the programming staff. Asshole prima donna — he threw a pencil at a post-doc, who’s now rumbling about suing the university on charges of bullying and harassment. Her greatest headache.

She leans back and stares at the empty cup, looking for an answer, but the tea’s bagged not loose. She weighs the data: expedience or merit? Seniority or promise? Hell, she never got a sabbatical — she deserves a break.

She types the recommendation. Tonight she’ll treat herself to a congratulatory dinner after all – work will be more pleasant next year.


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13 responses to “CHAIR ON HIGH by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. Al McDermid

    You make me happy I ditched academia. LOL Great job, particularly the finish, which one would make her job more pleasant . . .

  2. Yes but WHO, WHO, WHO?! Ha ha, yes, this makes me glad I was never an academic. Clear and well though out and easy and despite the rigours (or rigor mortis) of “administrative detritus”, fun and funny.

  3. Neatly done, Linda! Whether academia or corporate, the decisions that affect lives are often made like this.

  4. I feel sorry that the merit guy didn’t get his sabbatical though, but very insightful (if depressing!) piece. Well done.

  5. It’s the details that really make this piece – “Tazo Lotus and Zen tea” – perfect: it tells us so much about what this chair would really like…

    • guy

      Hmm… i read some aggression into the rare porterhouse and the martini, which is a frontal attack on consciousness. So yeah, there’s the veneer of gentility (= tea) slapped over the machiavellian agression. That’s academia.

      I guess agree about the details.

  6. Pingback: Week #25 – least favorite « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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