Friday, July 24, 2009

My summer on the edge...

So, I've been up to a lot this summer. Immediately after CSUB let out for the summer on June 15, I served as director for the CSUB Summer Arts Jam 2009. That 2-week program was short, but intense. I coordinated a program that brought 100 students a day to CSUB. These middle-school aged students were immersed in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, music and musical theater for 5 hours a day over 10 days. I worked with some amazing folks from the Arts Council of Kern and Kern Superintendent of Schools as well as administrators at CSUB that wanted to make this program a success. It was, and a website is in the works. Give me a couple more days to get it up - but the art is stunning. Here is a sample:

So, while the Summer Arts Jam was up and running I started a composition project called 30/30 Project. Follow that link to read about the project in total, but basically, I committed to write a new 30-second piece of music each day for 30 days. I have not quite lived up to the initial idea; I have created 25 pieces in 32 days, but I am still very proud of the output.

I have also tried to get out and perform a little more. I have been regularly attending the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop and performing with all sorts of folks there - from the grizzled veterans of the local jazz scene to young high-school students trying to gain an understanding of jazz. It has been a blast.

All the while, I have been reconnecting with my lovely wife, Jennifer Neil and our wonderful three boys, Aidan, Maxwell and Dylan.

If this summer mid-point re-cap could end there life would be great. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As you probably know, I am a full-time lecturer at CSU Bakersfield. A lecturer is a notch below any professorship. Lecturers do not have, nor can ever attain tenure without going through a hiring process for a "new" position. Lecturers have much less job security than people with the title of professor.

As the bad news kept rolling in regarding the economy in the state of California I started to get more and more worried about the solidity of my teaching job. All workers on campus are deciding if they can accept furloughs and the CSU raised tuition for our students by 32% starting in the fall of 2009. Even with furloughs and fee increases the CSU faces a $275 million deficit. CSU Bakersfield faces a deficit of around $5 million. There is no way that all lecturers will retain their jobs. None. After seeing the numbers at a HUGE meeting on 7/22/09 I am convinced that a large number of folks will be laid off. That is faculty, staff and even administration.

I live tweeted this event and the history of those tweets can be found at Jim's Twitter. The tweets begin on July 22 at 11 AM-ish. It is a scary read.

The CSUB music department is in its own pickle too. Our wonderful piano instructor, Rachel Chao, has taken another position and will be leaving the University. While I am happy to see her get a great gig at Rice University it will be very hard to replace her. There is a hiring freeze that will make it tough to get a highly qualified person into the position before schools starts in September.

Lastly, like every year, I applied for a couple of jobs this year. I only apply for other teaching jobs when the job is right up my alley and/or it would offer me something that I really feel I need/want in my career. I am currently a finalist for one of these jobs. This job is a tenure-track position at a junior college. The position is focused on directing the jazz band, teaching theory and jazz appreciation. Additionally, this school is very close to a PhD program in composition that would be very enticing if I were to be relocating to this area of California.

I had a great interview with the college President on Monday, July 13th, but still haven't heard anything - yes or no - so I'm in a holding pattern. I don't know if my family can afford to pass up this position If it is offered. Especially if I don't have any form of a guarantee from CSUB how do I turn down a good job? Needless to say, it has been a crazy summer on the edge!

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