Faculty at Phillip Seymour University celebrated Thursday when their academic governance council passed legislation to support the creation of a Department of Unpopular Tasks.
“Each year, more and more busywork and nonsense is added to our plates, taking away from our focus on students,” said physics researcher Malcolm Dobbs. “Just last week I had to spend time planning a field trip for my students – all by myself. It was a terrible misuse of my time.”
“For me, it’s the ickier stuff,” said Susan McMalley. “Students are bringing more of their own personal issues from home, like emotional disorders and learning problems. They require more and more time in office hours and after class. I wasn’t trained for this stuff and it’s terribly distasteful.”
The celebration over the governance decision was enthusiastic but possibly premature. Professors received an email Friday from Vice President of Academic Affairs Samantha Xiyan with an update on the new department.
“After submitting the job description to HR for a new Director of Unpopular Tasks and several positions in support of that person, I was informed that the university already has 36 individuals serving those roles. According to HR, these people are called ‘administrators.’”
“This is outlandish!” said Dobbs. “Apparently we’ve had dozens of these administrators in our midst for the entire time our university has existed and nobody bothered to tell me. There are counselors, academic support mentors, disciplinarians, event planners and even data collectors, although I’d really like to see the credentials of those people.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of these administrators before and sometimes they even show up at meetings and talk about students’ developmental needs and try to coach us so we can handle the new problems students are having,” said McMalley. “They’re stealthy. Every time they show up their department has a different name – like they’re trying to impress us. Or maybe themselves.”
“I’m thrilled that faculty are recognizing our staff, but I take offense at the archaic use of the word ‘administrator,’” said Vice President of Student Services Roger Washington. “I wish they would refer to us by our preferred name ‘experts on co-curricular developmental engagement.’”
“Oh those people,” said Dobbs. “I know who they are. They’re always trying to correct me on my vernacular and ‘educate’ me about how the kickball club is more important for students than my lab immersions.”