“Even in the cubicles of the hierarchy, where fear was generated, seldom suffered, he was called the Ticktockman. But no one called him that to his mask. You don’t call a man a hated name, not when that man is capable of revoking the minutes, the hours, the days and nights, the years or your life. He was called the Master Timekeeper to his mask. It was safer that way.” —Harlan Ellison’s “‘Repent! Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman”
As the recession gets worse, even blogging or commenting about layoffs and budget cuts becomes a scary thing to do for fear that The Ones Who Kept the Machine Functioning may find you. So many of us in higher ed wonder about the future of our projects, our professional development opportunities, and even our positions.
One of my big fears, though, is the irony that in saving money, those who count beans may be causing departments to hoard beans. Sound familiar? It’s almost like a higher ed credit crisis:
Let’s say department X is allocated funds annually to support a system. Department Y supports their own similar system. Neither department will be motivated to coordinate their efforts and reduce time and money spent on that project for fear that they would lose some funding or positions. Instead X and Y give their students disparate systems and the university pays twice the amount it should have.
In BNET’s Five Signs That You Have a Crummy Job, the two departments that rarely shrink in a recession are accounting and legal. As the bureaucracy increases, innovation drops and the creative talent becomes demotivated. I’m all for saving the institution, but will hoarding a handful of magic beans really do the trick?
Have your collaborative projects been terminated for budgetary reasons? I’d like to hear about it. Comment (anonymously if you prefer) or tweet (https://twitter.com/nikkimk) to tell me about it.
Photo by Sherry Elliott