The Owmapow Chronicles

by Channie Greenberg

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
chapters 1, 2, 3.1, 3.2

Chapter 3: Owmapow Gets Fired

conclusion

Dear Faculty:

On a somber note, the employment of Drs. Tim Atkins, Own Brownstone, Dana Fellman, Sam Handler, Sara Polsky, Janet Suku, and Paula Thesu at our institution ended today.

As you know, all their contracts were not renewed. They entered into a labor dispute with our university. As part of the labor dispute, they did not hand in their class grades. As a result, the administration cannot allow them to even teach summer courses.

The greatest asset any educational institution has is its faculty. Today, our university has lost some GREAT assets. Their commitment, dedication and experience will be sorely missed.

Dean Gerald Mankofsky


Dear Friends:

You’ve got to give Tim, Owen, Dana and the rest of the crew credit for dedication, commitment AND experience — and great professionalism under fire. I am saddened that it has ended in this way... No, I’m sickened.

What happens now to students’ grades will be left up to the department’s executive committee.

Sally Norman,
Department Chair


Dear Dr. Sally Norman: CC: Dean Gerald Mankofsky

At the moment, my life, unfortunately, remains lackluster. Over and over, I find myself sucking in my breath when visiting the campus. Is there really no way to reinstate me to my position?

A young lady or young fellow might or might not care about the administration’s response as much, but I had less than a decade until retirement. What’s more, I never did earn enough to justify such harsh treatment.

All that I had grasped was that in the good ol US of A, work stoppages were not legally punishable and that good lawyers, working alongside of union leaders, could protect their clients from illicit firings.

Further, it seems that no matter how well placed my scholarship has been in academic journals or how high, for years and years, my student evaluations have been, the university has no more need of me.

I even dutifully fulfilled the public service requirement of my job. For five years, I have been educating the public about deep sea creatures at Shellfish and Their Landlocked Buddies and at the children’s science site, Under the Sea

Surely, the administration meant to reprimand rather than to dismiss me?

Dr. Owen Brownstone


Mr. Kevin Smith:

Good Morning! Attached is my CV. I qualify for the Professor of Humanities position you ae representing. Even though my Ph.D. is in Marine Biology and Ecology, during the last decade I have taught writing courses. I presented research on science writing at national conferences, too. The last academic book I was working on was on a topic that looked at both science and communication.

Which school is offering the job? Is the position full-time or part-time? Please send more information.

Thanks!
Owen Brownstone, Ph.D.


Kevin:

Is the school in Pasadena? Santa Barbara? In an area between the two cities? It is not wise for me, at this point in my creative life, to commute too far from home, or to take on too many hours of work. For me, “part-time” and “relatively local” are highly desirable attributes in a teaching position.

The following paragraph is confidential; please do not forward these data to the employer who is offering the Professor of Humanities position.

Elsewhere, I signed a paper (I’m not sure if it is binding, since it was not a contract, stating that I would give priority to working, part-time, at a local institute of higher education, in the area of science writing, beginning fall 2017. The assumptions undergirding this very informal agreement are: that the program will be approved by the school’s board of trustees and that I will have mastered sufficient background in rhetoric to lecture on the necessary topics.

Regardless, I would like to return to the classroom and possibly to my program of research. I am a trained academic with a modest publication record. Also, I need money. My cash reserves will soon be depleted. Meanwhile, I am: blogging on biological life for a children’s science website, submitting writing projects to other outlets for publication, and trying to acquire more background in rhetorical theory and criticism.

I look forward to your email about the matter of this other school. Perhaps you can answer my questions, if only obliquely.

Sincerely,
Owen Brownstone, Ph.D.


Dr. Owen Brownstone:

I was asked not to give out the name of the institution yet. They’re in the preliminary stages of looking for candidates, so it may take some time until you hear from them. The position may start out part-time and increase; it’s not determined yet.

Best Regards,
Kevin Smith
Associate Director of Employment


Owen:

It’s in Pasadena, but this would be for down the road, possibly next fall. So I searched and the dean is a woman. I do not know her and do not believe I would be effective. I suggest you contact her directly. The description of the job that I had is what I sent out.

Kevin Smith
Associate Director of Employment


Kevin:

Thanks! I have an informal interview set for Tuesday.

Owen


Owen:

Great! Please keep me updated!

Best regards,
Kevin Smith
Associate Director of Employment


Dear Dr. Anita Lata:

I am writing in response to your posting for a professor. I have long been part of the academic avant-garde. My professional life is constituted by both award-winning work in marine biology and, as of late, in science writing. My educational method is interdisciplinary; the thinking, writing, and teaching I do are reflexive. Whereas my research foci have evolved over the decades, my emphasis remains on individual and collective communication accountability.

Attached are: my cover letter, my CV, my references and samples of my publications. When you are ready for additional information, please contact me.

Sincerely,
Owen Brownstone, Ph.D.


Kevin,

For your eyes only.

The meeting was a disappointment. It turned out to be an information interview, which I expected. However, it seemed that the party involved wanted information from me, not vice-versa, and when my “professional” opinion was not what she thought she would get, she decided the meeting was over.

Owen


Owen,

I’m sorry to hear that it was disappointing. Thanks for letting me know. We’ll keep trying!

Best regards,
Kevin Smith
Associate Director of Employment


Rena:

Below is a copy of what I sent to the dean. I think the message definitely expresses the first point. The second is there, but somewhat subtle.

In sum:
1. I am annoyed at being taken advantage of.
2. She has no idea how valuable I am/could be to her.

Your Tail-swishing (think of cats) Friend

Owmapow


Dr. Anita Lata:

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. Attached please find a self-explanatory curriculum design for your proposed program.

In a former life, I minored in higher education, served on curriculum development committees, chaired an instructional development research group of a regional (as opposed to the service I gave at the national level) biological sciences organization, and wrote/presented/published a bit on the topic.

The attached is a quick “doddle” of ideas. If you are interested, I could point you to lots of sources, organizations, and more. However, the first bit is a free sample. Thereafter, like anyone else, I charge.

Owen Brownstone, Ph.D.


Kevin:

So what is the next step with that college, which proceeded without me? Can you contact the college’s president, on my behalf? In the spring of 2016, I signed a paper that committed me to serving on the teaching staff of its new program for three years. The president’s office will have the signed, original copy of the agreement.

Owen


Owen:

This is absolutely outrageous! I cannot believe how badly you have been treated (by so many employers ....) I’m guessing that this is an issue in the humanities (getting as much as possible for as little as possible). But it still rots.

Rena


Rena:

This is another of the “hits” I took. The email, below is the curt response I got when asked why the program, to which I had attached my name and credibility began without me!

Dear Dr. Owen Brownstone:

I am not that involved anymore. Please contact the college directly

Dr. Tammy Stone


Owmapow:

Bronx cheer right back at her! :-)

Rena


Rena:

The substitute position at the high school didn’t work out (exaggerated raspberry sound). Doesn’t anyone care if kids learn or not? I would feel pretty guilty if I just did touchy-feely “make the customers happy” stuff in the classroom.

Owmapow


Owmapow:

If they refused to fire you, it couldn’t be THAT bad! C’mon! So make them happy! Teach the way you want, while being part of their “happy family”!

I didn’t say to do only the touchy-feely! I said, “teach the way you want, but in a manner that pleases the administration.” You shouldn’t have to compromise on your principles! Just modify a bit. Make them AND you happy.

Any new acceptances of your fiction?

Rena


Rena:

They refused to fire me and, since I needed the money, I refused to quit. However, they still insist that I change my behavior to conform to their “happy family.” Some folks are confused about roles even after they grow up. Sigh. I’m not willing to compromise the insights into writing that I worked so hard to gain.

No, only rejection notices.

Owmapow


Owmapow:

Uh Oh! This doesn’t bode well! WHAT HAPPENED today? Did it go the way you expected or was it simply “another yucky day?” :-(

I hope you are smiling!

Rena


Rena:

At least there will always be lobsters.

Owmapow


Copyright © 2015 by Channie Greenberg

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