and so it begins again


The kids trudged reluctantly up the steps of their school bus this morning. I trudged just as reluctantly into the basement and onto the treadmill, which ended up being a lot more fun than the rest of my day. Presidential address to the university community (two hours long, made slightly less painful by my discovery that my new 17" powerbook was capable of picking up a wifi signal even out in the giant tent in U Lot), college faculty meeting (don't even get me started on the pointlessness of that gathering), student convocation (which I skipped in order to rush home and meet my kids as they got back off the bus), and finally a master's student project defense.

On the one hand, I'm happy to get back into some semblance of a routine. I eat better (fewer temptations) and exercise more (because it's part of my daily schedule) during the school year. But on the other hand, it only took a few hours for me to remember how much I hate the part of my job that's not teaching or research--the endless hours of faculty and committee meetings that balkanize my days and cause constant frustration in all the participants.

Skipping convocation was my little declaration of independence, in a way. It's not that I don't like convocation...there's a part of me that really loves the pomp and circumstance surrounding convocation in the fall, and commencement in the spring. The formal welcoming and leave-taking, focused on the students. But going to convocation today meant missing my kids' arrival at home on their first day of school, and I wanted to make statement--to myself and to my family--about where my priorities would be this year. Now that I'm tenured (as of September 1st), I don't have to worry that missing a "required event" will cost me my job. So I went home, and was sitting on the front porch when the bus pulled up in front of the house.

The freshman students won't remember that I wasn't at convocation today. But my kids would remember if I wasn't here when they got home. It was the right thing to do.

Tomorrow I'll try to clear my mind of the meeting-induced negativity I accumulated today, and will start to focus on the grant work (we give our first presentation to the new students tomorrow, asking them to support our work by agreeing to participate) and class preparation. I've got a full section of freshmen in my Intro to Multimedia class, and I'm really looking forward to that. It's a great chance to connect with students when they first arrive, and to shape their perceptions of the department and the university.


I say, good choice Liz. :-)

I agree, you made the right decision.

After sitting in the first class of 320 with you I knew that I had made the right choice, it was just a matter of finding something that went along with the web concentration at that point. Luckily database fits into that perfectly, not to mention it adds more to the paycheck. :-)

By the way, what kind of student participation are you looking to receive for this grant work?

Given your comment about tenure you might be interested in a recent article by Robert Fulford published in Canada's National Post.

It's titled "Canadian profs were braver before tenure" and the url is


"The endless hours of faculty and committee meetings that balkanize[d] my days and cause[d] constant frustration in all the participants" were the main reason I walked away from a tenured university lectureship.

I've always wondered why -- given the intrinsic pointlessness of faculty and departmental meetings -- universities continue to insist on holding them... who enjoys these meetings, and why?

Jonathon, the best response I can give to that is to point you Edward Ayers' "What Does a Professor Do All Day, Anyway?" article that I linked to a couple of weeks ago.

In the best of worlds, what Ayers says is true. Of course, many of us don't live in the best of worlds, so the extent to which his defense of committee work applies can vary.

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This page contains a single entry published on September 4, 2003 8:45 PM.

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