Losing My Job

>> Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I've taught at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul for 8 years, and I've been there as a full time Assistant Professor (as well as managing the Photo Labs) for the last 2 years. I also received my BFA degree from CVA back in 2003 before getting my Masters in Minneapolis.

Three weeks ago, I learned that this Spring 2013 semester at CVA will be the last semester for CVA. The college is shutting down after 89 years.

We've known budgets were tight, and my Photo budget has been cut at least once / year since I've worked there (but I've always managed to end up under-budget). But none of us thought it would come to this. We're a non-profit, and we're very "tuition driven." Numbers of incoming students weren't quite where they needed to be for the last 2 years, but they weren't horrible. The school was banking on bringing in a large Fall 2012 class, but we only got about 60% of the students we needed. That was the straw the broke the camel's back.

So yes, I'll be losing my job in early May as soon as the semester is over. More saddening to me is losing the place where I received my education - my alma mater will be gone. The one bright spot in all of this is that the current students are being taken care of. The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (the most similarly-accredited 4-year BFA institution in the Twin Cities) has worked with CVA to create a "teach-out" plan - they are taking all the credits from juniors so they can enter MCAD in the fall as seniors and graduate on schedule next spring. MCAD is a bit more expensive, but with some Financial Aid money following the CVA students, they'll only be paying a BIT more in Minneapolis. MCAD is being helpful and "lenient" with Freshman and Sophomores to get as much transferred as possible and to not make students jump through any extra hoops. CVA just had a "transfer fair" on campus last week with about a dozen local art and design schools (or schools with well-known and well-respected art and design programs). The majority (if not all) of these schools have special accommodations put in place for more easily accepting CVA transfer students.

So all of us full time faculty and staff learned about this 6 days before the semester began at a previously scheduled meeting. As we were learning about it, an article was published by Minnesota Public Radio, and the rest of the world was hearing about it. My wife actually heard about it on the radio on her drive home that day before I could tell her.

Two weeks ago on the first day of the semester, students and their parents assembled to hear from the President, Vice-President, and the board of CVA. Guess who was asked to be the first speaker at this heated assembly. Yep.... Me. I posted my emotional speech on my Photo Blog 2 weeks ago. Click here to read it and to see some photos from that day.

So I've been contacting previous employers and looking for new teaching / tech opportunities. I'm still in the "adjunct pool" at the University of Minnesota, so I'm hoping I can get a class or 2 there next Fall and Spring. An old acquaintance contacted me just a few hours after the CVA closing announcement asking if I'd like to be kept in the loop for a position that will soon be opening up at his college. If I find work, there's a good chance it won't be the same "full-time" salary I'm currently making. But we'll be fine. As Pharmie put it 3 weeks ago laughing a bit with tears in her eyes, "at least it was your job and not mine!" (She's a Pharmacist making twice what I do.)

A few days after learning about CVA's closing, you may have seen ads appear on this blog, my Root Beer blog, and my Tumblr page of funny / sporty stuff. They're not set in stone, so you might see me tweaking them over the next few weeks. I'm not planning on trying to make a living off of blog ads, but with money potentially becoming a bit more tight this summer, I'm looking into all options. If those ads can even just pay for a few race entries, that'd be great. I hope I'm not considered a sell-out; I'm just exploring all options now that I know I'll be jobless in 3 months.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the sad news and keep you all "in the loop." Worst case scenario? I get to spend a lot more time at home with this funny guy:

Lunch time 10 days ago while Momma was at work


Jeremy Reichenberger 8:23 AM, February 05, 2013  

Sorry to hear about this, Steve!

(I do know it was a treat to have you as my photo professor at the U a few years back. There will be some lucky students here if you come back to teach a couple classes!)

TriMOEngr 8:28 AM, February 05, 2013  

Sorry to hear about this because I know probably better than anyone how stressful this kind of change will be. My husband was an electrician (now instructor at tech school) who fought layoffs off and on for years and it was part of why he took his current job. The never knowing when/if you'd go back to work was nerve-wracking (though our kids LOVED the summer he was off that he took care of them and still relate layoff to more time with dad). When I had to tell him two years ago that I was the one losing my job (the kind of layoff where you never go back), it felt like my world was crashing down. But I've had more time with my family and managed to pay the bills with consulting work and it has worked out. It isn't always easy, but I do believe there is sometimes a greater plan that we can't see when we are in the middle of it. Many prayers and best wishes for finding your next gig - wherever and whatever it is. And definitely enjoy the extra time this summer with your sweet boy no matter what.

Amy 9:01 AM, February 05, 2013  

I'm sorry to hear about this.

Julie D 9:27 AM, February 05, 2013  

Hope the "next thing" will be even greater than the previous one! I have recently experienced something like this and am trying to stay optimistic. Sorry to hear this is happening.

Emily W 9:40 AM, February 05, 2013  

Hey Steve, sorry to hear about this! I am sure it's very unsettling. But, it sure would be fun to be a stay at home dad - right? :)

kristen 10:09 AM, February 05, 2013  

I'm not sure what to say other than "that sucks." I'm sorry Steve.

SteveQ 10:22 AM, February 05, 2013  

I've also been thinking of monetizing my blog - people are noticing that I complain about prices a lot recently. I get about 10% of the traffic you do, so it'd be interesting to find out if it's worthwhile.

Thankfully, root beer is cheap.

Carolina John 11:38 AM, February 05, 2013  

I hate that for you man. It's always a rocky road; there is no such thing as job security anymore. But if it's any comfort, every time something like this has happened to me I end up someplace bigger and better. So keep that optimistic eye and you'll get something else lined up soon.

CoachLiz 12:10 PM, February 05, 2013  

I hear you loud and clear. My dad was a photo-journalist with UPI for over 20 years when they started to phase out photography and just do news. He then worked for the Houston Post for a few years until the news paper went out of business. In the two years between working at the post and getting a job at the Houston Chronicle, he photographed weddings, local 5K runs, school sports teams line-up photos for game programs, and work that would be illustrations or photos for books. He had the most fun doing photographic research for family trees and still does that today scanning in photos and sound touch ups to remove folds in the photo paper, torn corners, and faded color.
Look at this as an amazing magical door that is opening up to new oportunities. Pursue your photography with passion and you will have people that will pay you for your work. You cod be the next Ansel Adams

Anonymous,  3:11 PM, February 05, 2013  

Anyone who enjoys your blog is not going to care about the ads.

trimybest 4:25 PM, February 05, 2013  

oh man. that sucks! sorry to hear about that, but you will definitely bounce back! perhaps you will even start your own business and spend all day with your cute little guy. thats what i did :)

Bob Kowalski 5:11 PM, February 05, 2013  

At least you're not over 50. Best of luck to you and your family. These things are not easy, but I am sure you will end up better off.

KellytheCulinarian 7:47 PM, February 05, 2013  

Sorry to hear the news. I hope you find something new soon!

Kevin 7:25 AM, February 06, 2013  

Sad to hear of the schools closing. Good luck with the job search. With your talents I am sure you'll find something in no time

Merrilee 7:39 AM, February 06, 2013  

That's rough. But more Henry time while you job search would not be a bad thing. You got this.

Anonymous,  11:54 AM, February 06, 2013  

So sorry to hear about this...what a loss for the area not only with the school closing, but for all of you trying to now find work.
I think my mom's friend still works at St. Thomas - I'd be happy to put you in touch with her if you'd like? Feel free to email me anytime...

Jennifer Harrison 4:01 PM, February 06, 2013  

So sorry to hear this too, Steve.
I do always say "One door closes and another opens!" You are going to be a GREAT worker for anyone - good luck w/ your job search!

Anonymous,  3:28 AM, February 07, 2013  

Hey Steve,

That sucks, but I'm pretty sure that you will have no problems in finding a new job!

Julia Jones 1:44 AM, February 15, 2013  

Dear Steve,
I've been enjoying your website for years. There is no shame in making money from something you enjoy doing. I also agree with one of the other commenters: this is most likely an opportunity for you to explore more of your own photography work. I can't wait to see what enfolds for you in the future!

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