Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Service Blues

A while ago, I wrote about taking on a greater service load after tenure. Now, all that seems to be coming true.

In our department, junior faculty are generally given light service loads. The idea is that pre-tenure faculty need to concentrate on getting their courses up and running, and getting some publications out -- a couple of peer-reviewed articles and a book MS has been the standard lately. That leaves time only for a departmental committee or two a year, plus maybe a few years on a college- or university-level committee. This, in my opinion, is right and good.

With tenure, the expectations change. Oh sure, we still need to publish, and the teaching needs to be strong. But now it appears to be the time for service. Lots of it.

Which is just background for me to sigh deeply, and say that so far this semester, my life seems to be composed of little more than meetings. As a Very Disorganized Person, this is causing me undue stress. So I've become a better calendar-keeper. Every morning, I wake up, look at the calendar, and remind myself of where I'm supposed to be, and when. Do I have another graduate student meeting? Do I need to send out an e-mail for that committee to meet? Is there a paperwork deadline I've almost missed? And what about all that "service to the profession" -- do I say yes to serve on the board of that organization I think is really neat? Have I got all the materials for that other organization? Did I forget to turn something in for that panel I'm organizing?

If I thought about it all at once, I'd wail with despair. So I just take it one day at a time, and hope nothing slips through the cracks.

Thank god I'm not trying to date or have a social life.

13 comments:

Susan said...

I hear you. And we have ten weeks left....

tenthmedieval said...

This is how my whole summer's been: I feel your pain... I'm hoping that, paradoxically, term starting will actually cut down the number of things that have to be done. Seems unlikely, though. Let's all hang in there, I guess.

Clio Bluestocking said...

I hear ya! I think I have about five different calendars going because one won't fit everything.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

And the committee sizes were all established 20 years ago before several rounds of hiring freezes resulted in lines not being filled after retirements etc., so that the department has effectively been cut by 1/4, and very senior people grouse about the same dozen people being the only ones who will step up and do the work when, in fact, those dozen are the only people eligible to serve.

My captcha is "bedatif." Is this a sign I should just go back to bed and stay there today?

Reconquista said...

I've been using Pocket Informant to stay organized. A to-do list integrated with calendar. If you have an IPhone, that is. Technology can make life easier, sometimes.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Dame Eleanor: absolutely right, of course.

@ reconquista: seems logical, but the problem with tech solutions is that you have to actually remember to look at them. I have a detailed iCal on which I dutifully record upcoming meetings, events, travel, visits, and appointments. Only recently, however, have I actually started remembering to look at it on a daily basis. The tech is only as good as the person operating it.

Reconquista said...

I hear you. But multiple alarms for calendar entries and to-dos can force you to remember everything. I do 2 alarms for every important event/task: one a day ahead and the other an hour ahead. This works on iCal too, as I'm sure you know. But it has made all the difference in my getting things done.

Marie said...

It's kind of nice to know that even tenure professors struggle with this. I just joined the professorial ranks about four weeks ago. My life changed dramatically from revising my dissertation 24-7 to an asst prof job, where I have three new classes, a bunch of advisees and masters students with research projects, two university wide committees, one department committee, and I got put in charge of the history club. And I have an article in a couple months. My daily to-do list couldn't fit on any calendar program. In fact, blog reading is my fun time. Ahh, the life of the mind...

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Marie, I totally forgot about this. That first year, you come into a job thinking that you've got experience in teaching, research, and maybe even a little bit of service. But NOTHING can prepare you for the mountains of paperwork.

Fair warning: you will spend the next 5 years or so acclimating, and you will think you have it down. Then you will get tenure, and there will be a whole 'nother world of utterly essential busywork and piles of paper and acronyms. The only difference being a) magnitude, and b) you'll be expected to actuall y understand what the hell is going on. (or in my case, semi-convincingly fake it)

Good luck!

Bardiac said...

Amen to all!

Especially to Dame Eleanor's comment. So very true here, so very true. And now the deanlings are talking about "hiring" some post docs who will teach a little and be all inspiring, but won't do any committee work and will need mentoring and supervising. I'm guessing we'll need a committee for that...

Comrade PhysioProf said...

When I was a grad student and post-doc, I didn't even *have* a fucken calendar. Now I look at my calendar like a thousand fucken times per day.

Good Enough Woman said...

I love the way you capitalized "Very Disorganized Person"--like you're really *claiming* it. In our society organization is so highly prized and valued that I never want anyone to know that I am, by nature, a VDP. But those capital letter make me want to claim my nature as my own!

Anonymous said...

Very good and timely. I was just thinking of writing a piece similar, but more along the lines of showing what a professor has to deal with in the course of a day.