Dr. Ima Farseer had been chair of the Department of Et. Al., Et. Al.at Letongaloosa Community Junior College for a long time. Her long tenure became a problem. She had done such a good job as dean under three LCJC presidents that none of them would approve a promotion to which she aspired. Dr. Farseer wanted to be provost at LCJC, but the presidents refused to let her change positions.
The presidents were all ambitious men. They all wanted to rise higher. They all wanted to move away from Letongaloosa and acquire more prestigious academic positions. For that to happen they needed Dr. Farseer to use her administrative skills to keep the university sailing smoothly and successfully semester after semester.
“No, Ima,” they said. “You are too valuable to the university where you are. We can’t take the chance of promoting you. If something went wrong, administrationwise, where would we be?”
“If I quit, where will you be?” she asked.
“We can give you a raise.”
“My salary is already at the upper limits. The state won’t approve any higher salary for me.”
“Ima, Ima, please! You need to work with us !”
“No. YOU need to work with ME.”
“Look, it’s nearly the weekend. Give us until Monday to see if we can come up with something that will work for everyone.”
“You’d better come up with something good. Otherwise I’m out of here.”
Up against it, the men put in some heavy thinking (not, for them, an easy thing to do). Finally, one of them brightened. He didn’t actually shout, “eureka!” but he might as well. “We’ll promote Ima to provost but we’ll fold the dean’s duties into the description of the provost’s responsibilities. She’ll report to which ever of us is still here.”
The following Monday the designated speaker (the one who pulled the short straw) met with Dr. Farseer.
“We came up with an excellent solution to this Quandary,” he said.
“I bet it stinks,” said Ima with calculated insolence.
“On the contrary, it’s a ball of fire.”
“Don’t burn the place down.”
“You have your promotion.”
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch. It just required a small rewrite of your position statement.”
Dr. Farseer remained silent.
“You have your promotion.
“As I said, ‘What’s the catch’”?
“Your duties will include you’re doing the work of dean of Et. Al., Et. Al., as well as those of Provost which position will be redefined to accommodate all the things you require.”
“Excuse me, sir. Are you high on something?”
“Yes, indeed, I am. I’m high on the desire for the University to continue to benefit from your invaluable administrative skills, but at the same time reward you with the promotion you so richly deserve.”
“And you guys would continue to use the university as a springboard to better, more rewarding academic positions in the great outside world . A world a million light years from Letongaloosa.”
“A jaundiced view,” he said. You’re a hard woman, Ima, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”
“Accurate, not jaundiced.”
The president nodded in acquiescence.
“You’re saying I can write my own ticket.”
“Within the requirements of academic responsibility and in keeping with the viable demands of institutional stability.”
“Balderdash! Baloney! Let me hear you say that in plain English.”
“My dear Ima, we are, members of the academic community. Our profession is awash with ambiguity. None of us is capable of saying things accurately.. If we were capable of straight-forward speech we’d be working in the real world, making real money. Does anyone around here make real money?”
“No! That’s the point. All you geeks get your ticket punched in academe. Then you look for a real job
You’re a hard woman, Ima, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”
“Hard but accurate when you strip away all the baloney.”
The president inclined his head. “So, where does that leave us?”
It leaves us with a quote from the gospel according to Saint Ima .”
“Go soak your head.”
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co