• September 30, 2016

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News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
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 on: Today at 03:24:43 pm 
Started by drsyn - Last post by usukprof
I just noticed there's no TGIF thread.
There's no TGIT thread either, I assume.

 on: Today at 03:24:41 pm 
Started by treehugger1 - Last post by pgher
This is what they have to say about the board's responsibility: "The Board shall be responsible to and report to the members of the congregation."

To my mind, the president is violating this principle. As toothpaste says, her plan is doomed. Your responsibility as a board member is to prevent her from destroying the congregation in the process. Whether the president wants the plan to be public or not is binding on her, not you.

If I were in your position, I would start having conversations with non-board-member friends about the long-term future of the congregation. Indicate that the board is doing some long-term planning, and that you want their input.

I think it's important for an organization like yours to have a leader, but they should lead, not dictate.

 on: Today at 03:21:48 pm 
Started by treehugger1 - Last post by hulkhogan
Herding cats is easier than herding Unitarians. Har har. I know whereof I speak. I used to be a member of a small UU congregation. Politics and jockeying for influence were brutal. Busybodies ran a good part of the show. Little ever got done because of too many disparate points of view on literally everything, from the location of the book table to the preferred shade of green for plants in the foyer. The minister ended up resorting to subterfuge and bypassing committees to get decisions on at least some items while trying to keep the busybodies happy. I eventually left in disgust. My best advice to you is to drastically reduce your expectations. Hoping that people will always do the right thing is a recipe for sore disappointment.

 on: Today at 02:54:28 pm 
Started by ndis7305 - Last post by ndis7305
Thank you all for this food for thought! The ad does not give any contact information for faculty (supporting the idea that this is an HR plan and not necessarily the way the faculty would choose to operate), but I have gone to the college website and retrieved the email address for the head of the division involved. I've now asked whether I can email the recommendation.

 on: Today at 02:49:16 pm 
Started by treehugger1 - Last post by treehugger1
It sounds like you are essentially a member lead organization, correct (the board, which is the governing body, is voted by the membership.  The president reports to the Board).   If so, your President is trying to rule it all upside down.

In a membership lead organization, any strategic plan should be largely written by the membership and then enacted by Board.  It is not the role of the President to decide the long term plans of a membership-lead organization, since the Board and the President will turn over long before most of the membership will (well, ideally, anyway.  If not, you have a problem.)

What does your own Church Bylaws and Governance documents say about changes to policy, procedure and bylaws? 

Well, I agree with you.  Unfortunately, our by-laws are vague and perfunctory. This is what they have to say about the board's responsibility: "The Board shall be responsible to and report to the members of the congregation." That's it. On the plus side, they don't say anything about it being the board's responsibility to make grand plans and get the congregation excited about them. In fact, I did quote this sentence and offer this interpretation to our president yesterday. She more or less ignored what I said.

Her plan is doomed to failure.

If 75% of the congregation don't think that hiring a minister is a good idea, they won't cough up the pledges required to pay one. And the UUA will figure this out and warn potential ministers that this is the product of a difficult congregation.

Well, it is a long-term plan. She would never simple hire a minister without general approval. What I see is her working very hard in this direction incrementally.

The process thus far:

Two and 1/2 years ago (before I was on the board), the congregation was simply informed at the annual pledge events that we absolutely needed to hire a part-time children's education coordinator. Before everyone was asked for $$$, there was an hour-long presentation on why we needed to hire such a person, why it would be good for us and why it would be disastrous if we didn't. The possibility of not hiring such a person was never brought up for discussion.

Apparently, the presentation worked because we had a hugely successful drive with a record amount of $$$ promised throughout the year. Next, about two months later, the board set up a fund for the education director into which one could contribute over and above their pledge.  When people wondered why we needed more $$$ after the record-breaking fund drive, they were told that the pledge drive $$$s were not going to be used for the religious education director's salary. (The truth of the matter was that the board had never said as much. Everyone just thought it because the board members went on and on about needing a director, then went and asked everyone to increase their pledge immediately afterwards, so it certainly seemed like the two things were connected.)  In any case, it was now the fund drive supplemented by income from a new rental that would actually be used for our new hire's salary.

This is about when I joined the board. At this point, our president started shifting the goal posts. Well, since we are going to have a children's education director, why not try to hire someone who will do children's and adult education along with a bunch of administrative work thrown in on the side? I objected that people had contributed money specifically for a children's education director, not for a factotum. Her response was again that we had been elected, therefore we knew what was best. Besides, people should be contributing even more money than they already were even without a goal. (In fact, she has tried to get people on board with a plan to simply require that all members  give the fellowship a significant percentage of their income. This is such a ridiculous idea that there is not a single other member who is on board with it (as far as I know). Nevertheless, the fact that she brings it up repeatedly is slightly scary. )

Anyway, we did go and hire a children's education director and guess what? She is offering a class for adults. We already have two successful on-going adult education classes (one humanist, one more religious) run by qualified members. There really was no need for a third one and, as far as I know, no one was asking for it. Now, however, we have a third offered by the children's (but now also adult?) education director. I heard that the guy who leads the humanist group, which had been considered our main adult education group, was pretty upset, because he wasn't even informed that they were starting this other group. And of course, our president doesn't pass up an opportunity to praise this new group, say how terrific it is and downplaying the other ones. See how we're sliding towards a minister without a majority wanting it?

 on: Today at 02:47:54 pm 
Started by azv105 - Last post by pigou
I'm a big fan of the Surface Book and a new iteration is probably about to be released (end of the month?). Microsoft sells a dock that goes with it, allowing you to connect your laptop with one cable to your monitor(s), mouse, keyboard, etc (oh, and it charges the laptop, too). I currently use that in my office with zero performance issues -- and that's on the entry-level model. Use it with a nice monitor, so you can have e.g. your email/calendar on the laptop, but mainly work on a big screen. I recently grabbed this one and am very happy with it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YD3DBOC/

Nice perk is that you can just continue where you left off after disconnecting the laptop and it's one fewer device that you have to think about upgrading.

My research involves analyzing some large streams of data (about a few 100 MB of data) with excel
This is unrelated, but as someone who does a lot of data analysis... please don't use Excel. Grab the open source (aka free) software "R" and "R Studio." It's so easy to make mistakes in Excel that nobody will catch (like missing some rows at the end by accident, or referencing an incorrect column) and it's impossible to reproduce the analyses properly, because the data and analyses are intermingled in the same file.

 on: Today at 02:44:01 pm 
Started by vardahilwen - Last post by yellowtractor
Both ragweed and mold are high.
The goldenrod kisses the sky

I thank all the gods
That I've beaten the odds


And yet death and despair remain nigh.

 on: Today at 02:40:02 pm 
Started by larryc - Last post by laudity
We've been having "validation of a previously made decision" meetings all week. 

Oh, that's a winner of a reason to meet. Similar to another poster, I sometimes like to estimate how much money one of the waste-of-time meetings is costing, based on number of people at the table and estimated hourly salary. It's staggering.

 on: Today at 02:35:17 pm 
Started by drsyn - Last post by yellowtractor
I examined a peach for surface blemishes.  Then I returned it to the window sill for further ripening.

 on: Today at 02:25:56 pm 
Started by tuxedo_cat - Last post by brixton
Cat hair is compost-able.  I found that out when I brushed my two cats and realized I had enough fur to make a couple kittens.

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