So today, as with every Tuesday, I was back on campus less than 12 hours after I left it, because I have The Most Awful Schedule Ever for the Third Semester in a Row. That’s not news. And yes, most Tuesdays I end with me feeling depleted.
But I’m especially exhausted today because it was the Big Deadline for an internal grant for which I applied. I also had a couple of other things to apply for internally – one by the end of the week and one by next Monday, so I bit the bullet and completed all three applications (which all required just slightly different information and formats, so it was a total pain in the ass) today. Depleted doesn’t begin to cover it.
The Big Grant application I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks. And I’m in no way certain of getting it, even though I was very diligent in formulating the application and making sure I hit all of the items on the rubric that they use to evaluate it. (Side note: it is SO MUCH BETTER, if more time intensive, now that The Committee that Decides on Internal Grants actually explains what the application requires, what projects can be funded through this grant, and what criteria are used in evaluation. When I first arrived 10 years ago, there was little to no concrete guidance about what the applications should include, which was… problematic.) But anyway, even with that diligence and investment of time, why am I unsure about my prospects? Well, first off, people in The Humanities rarely get this particular award. I’m not sure if it’s because people don’t apply or if it’s because they don’t understand how to write grant applications or if it’s because there is a gigantic bias against research in the humanities because my colleagues across campus don’t understand it or value it. Probably some combination of the three.
But I had an idea for the Big Grant (by big I’m just referring to the application in relation to the other stuff I applied for – it will give me personally no actual money, but if I get it then it will pay for some software/work that will buy me time, which would be grand) that I thought I could sell to people outside the humanities, which they would understand as research and not “clerical work” (which let’s note constitutes a lot of what “research” in the humanities involves but no level of explanation seems to penetrate the brains of my colleagues outside of my discipline or the brains of my administration, who value research involving labs and co-authors much more highly than they value the kind of stuff that people in single-author fields do). So I feel like I’ve got a 50/50 shot. But if I get it, then I will totally write about it here and tell every single colleague who cares in the humanities in my institution about it, because I might have discovered the One True Way to get access to this money. Maybe. But it definitely ain’t a sure thing.
And then I submitted another application for professional development money from my College, which I think has a pretty good shot, depending. Depending on what? Depending on how many people apply. Because I got this money last year, and I can imagine them denying me if there were first time applicants in the pool if there were more applicants than there was money.
And then I submitted an application for a course release, which I’m about 99 percent sure I will not receive, mainly because the only reason I was “allowed” to submit the request was because a colleague of mine was told by the provost to submit one, and my chair (kudos to my new chair!) wanted to be equitable and open up the opportunity to others who had expressed interest. See, my dean has basically said to the chairs (“basically” meaning that all of this has happened not as a policy matter that is in writing but rather as an ad hoc thing he has “told” them and they’ve gone along with since 2010) that course releases for anything other than administrative purposes won’t be considered. Because, you know, he can’t be bothered to read and to reject applications for release time for other things, I guess. On the one hand, this is about the budget, and I get it. On the other hand, how are you going to fight for more money in the budget if you have no clue what faculty are doing and you have no evidence that more resources are needed? (Note: course releases are available for research in other colleges at my institution). My dean is “stepping up” to faculty after this academic year (don’t you love that euphemism?). I’ll let you infer how I feel about that.
So basically I invested about 20 hours of time in composing applications for institutional support for my research, support that would ultimately benefit my institution in a host of ways – student success, getting a woman in my department fully promoted, institutional reputation – and I might end up with nothing for those efforts. But hey, you can’t get support if you don’t ask for it. And you can’t bitch legitimately if you don’t get denied the support that you need.
All this work isn’t for nothing, even if none of it works out. It’s prepared me for external grant applications for next year, and it’s got me started thinking in a systematic way about my THIRD book project (even though I’m not done with the second one). This is all good. And it’s also good to do these things because it makes me recognize the quality of my ideas and the high esteem in which my work is regarded outside of my institution, mainly because such applications require you to self-promote.
That said? I am exceptionally pleased that I don’t need to write anything for a while that waxes poetic about how important I am. I hate this fucking genre, though apparently I’ve gotten a hell of a lot better at doing it in the 10 years I’ve been on the tenure-track. And I’m feeling satisfied, because even if I don’t get diddly from all of this effort, at least I know that I’ve communicated what I am doing and the value of what I am doing without apology. I’d rather dare them to say no than anticipate rejection and fail to try.