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Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

Word on the street is that I “don’t work well with some people.”  Why this came up doesn’t really matter, especially since I don’t actually want to do the thing that a colleague recommended me for.  (For what it’s worth, I think that I would do it very well, but having had some experience with administrative tasks in the past 10 years, I know that they do not energize me the way that regular faculty work energizes me, so all’s well that ends well.)

But this thing about how I am regarded was actually very interesting news for me to hear, because if you look at my record, I’ve accomplished a great deal, particularly since tenure, precisely because I’m really good at working with other people and with getting people to do work that they otherwise would not do.  I’ve worked with a range of folks across my department, college, and university, and some of these folks themselves have reputations as being “difficult to work with,” and some of them have reputations as being “nice to work with.”  It’s worth noting that some people who are “difficult to work with” are actually huge assets when trying to accomplish concrete goals, and some people who are “nice to work with” are a pain in the ass who never pull their weight, and vice versa.  What matters to me is getting the work done, whatever the personalities that are involved.  But apparently, we’re not talking about “work” even though that’s the word being used.

Really what we’re talking about is a difference in approaches to how to accomplish concrete goals.  And my approach, as it has evolved since earning tenure and promotion and as it has evolved from doing some really treacherous college-wide and university-wide committee-work, has definitely shifted from one that was about wanting people to like me and wanting to keep people happy – no matter how much time and energy of mine that took – to wanting to accomplish things in the most efficient way possible – even if people don’t throw me a parade at the end of it.

The biggest reason for that shift is that even when I was running myself ragged to make everybody happy and make everybody like me not only did nobody throw me a parade but also lots of people still got mad at me. Also I was told – point blank, by (male) administrators – that my problems with my workload were of my own making and that I could not expect any support and in fact by asking for it I was being a bad little girl.  “Some people just do more work than other people, Dr. Crazy.” “You need to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, Dr. Crazy.”

So you know what?  I learned my lesson.  After some reflection, I determined that I need to feel like I am productive in my job, and I need to feel like I’m doing so without sacrificing my own well-being, and those things matter a hell of a lot more than whether everybody “enjoys” how I get things done. As a result, I have reached the point where the following things are now true:

  • I am vocal about who I would like to serve on committees that I chair, and I have refused to serve on committees based on who else will be serving on or chairing those committees.  I do this not because I don’t “like” some people but because I don’t want to do service that wastes my time because others don’t pull their weight or because others get in the way of me achieving goals.  I also choose service “opportunities” based on my interests and not because I’ve been guilted into doing so because of other people’s “needs.”  Note: I still do more service than probably 75% of the people in my department.
  • I have begun to introduce proposals through the appropriate department channels for ideas that I have without necessarily consulting with department administration or others or waiting for some kind of amorphous approval before I do so.  The channels exist for a reason, anybody can use them, and people can vote my ideas up or down.  Whatever.  But I’ve learned if I wait for other people I’ll be waiting until I’m retired.  Or I’ll be vilified for months although ultimately my idea will be approved.  Both of those things are super awesome, I know, but I’ve decided if I’m going to be the Big Bad Bossy Crazy anyway, I might as well be the Big Bad Bossy Crazy in a way that takes as little of my time and energy as possible.
  • I lack patience with free-wheeling “discussions” that have no end in sight, particularly when those discussions mostly involve people who do not contribute meaningfully to the work that needs to be done on a day-to-day basis.  This has always been true, but I’m more likely to express it now, in the hope that I an Make. It. Stop.  Sometimes it even works.  Other times at least I feel like I didn’t go down without a fight, so I don’t seethe for days about it.

I’m sure there are more things, but I think those are the big three.  Part of the reason that these qualities are so offensive is because of gender, I think, and also because I’m kind of a natural leader and I don’t have a position from which to lead with authority, nor have I had the benefit of administrators who will take my ideas and run with them, backing me up with their authority.  What’s really happened over the past 4-5 years is that I’ve been put in a position where I end up the fall-guy for controversial (important) things while administrators sit back and let me have the target on my back.

And so now, here I am, a problem child.  Ah well, I’ll take it.  Let some of those people who play well with others do the heavy lifting.  We’ll see how nicely they play at the end of it.

 

 

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Dr. Virago has a great post up about feeling that she’s in a “mid-career rut,” and so much of what she writes about is so important, I think, and I think it’s important for those of us who’ve leaped over that hurdle that is “earning tenure” to keep writing about our experiences because, as Virago notes, most of us have another 30 or so years in this gig after we do that.  “Mid-Career” – as I wrote in a post about teaching – is a really freaking long time for most of us, so there are going to be various iterations of what that looks like at different points in that LONG trajectory.

But before I get to some specific points that I want to engage with in Virago’s post, I want to begin with the metaphor of the “rut.”  When we say we are “in a rut,” we are using a transportation metaphor.  It’s all about furrows that develop along a track or road, and at a certain point, those furrows get deep enough that one can’t turn off the track or road.  Things get a little boring, a little rote.  And they also can feel a little bumpy, and you don’t have the luxury of dodging the bumps.  I think it’s no mistake that those of us who’ve been on a “track” for years – the tenure-track, the Ph.D. track, the “accelerated track” in elementary and high school – might find that ruts have developed over the course of that time.  But whereas being “on track” is a good thing – on track to finishing the dissertation, on track to getting a job, on track to earning tenure, on track for promotion – being “in a rut” is a bad thing.

Why?  I mean, I’m really asking that.  Because it seems to me that ruts aren’t necessarily more limiting than tracks.  It’s just that we see being on track as being focused and motivated and making progress, whereas we see being in a rut as being stuck.  Except, actually, both tracks and ruts can be limiting.  Being on track means that you can’t make a random left turn without jumping the tracks.  And both tracks and ruts can be productive, too.  Being in a rut means that you don’t have to plow through obstacles in order to get where you’re going; you can use the rut to guide you and to let you move ahead without having to focus all of your energy on where you’re going.  But the negative connotation of being “in a rut” makes us feel slow or stopped or not engaged, whereas the positive connotation of being “on track” makes us feel like we’re getting somewhere, even though we are no more “free” on a track than we are in a rut.

In some ways, part of what I’ve struggled with over the past two years is learning how to use some ruts I’m in to my advantage, as opposed to resisting them.  And I’ve also been doing a little back-and-forth – reversing and going forward, reversing and going forward, with slight adjustments to the steering wheel, much like when you’re stuck in a snow mound and trying to get yourself out of the ruts in the snow that the wheels have made to get back on the road.  I’m not saying that I’ve done everything “right” or that I’m totally out of the rut that I’ve perceived myself to be in for a bit of time…. but I am feeling a lot more satisfied right now than I have felt probably, well, ever.

So, the first thing that I want to respond to from Virago’s post is this:

So there’s a way in which I’m active in the area that got me the job, got me tenure, and so forth. But I haven’t really produced anything new in it in some time, and I’m frustrated by that. I have something in progress (an article), but I keep dithering about whether to do the relatively fast and easier version of it and get it *out* there in one of the subfield journals, or keep working on the more theoretically ambitious version of it, which involves me learning (or continuing to learn) all sorts of new stuff and would be sexier for the broader medieval and medieval-renaissance journals. The learning part is attractive, but it’s also slow. And I have been sitting on this thing for a long time now because it keeps getting shunted aside.

First of all, let me just note that Virago has accomplished so much since tenure that she isn’t giving herself enough credit for and that probably is propelling her forward in ways that she doesn’t realize yet.  But I also recognize that feeling that I’ve said what I had to say about my last topic, and I have a new idea, but it just seems too gigantic and complicated to pursue it as it should be pursued, properly, and so then other stuff gets in the way of it.

What I’m about to say here is not some edict of How Things Must Be Done, but I’ve come to a perspective in the past couple of years that if I’m going to try to do new stuff, think new thoughts, post-book and post-tenure, then I have to do two things: 1) I have to make those new things my first priority, no matter how painful that is, and 2) I have to give myself permission not to worry about the final product fitting the “ideal” version in my head.

Of course, those two things are also the things that one needs to do in order to finish a dissertation.  At least for me, though, I had to relearn those lessons post-tenure, because the stakes for my “reputation” (ha! such that it is) feel higher.  “I’m supposed to know how to do this now!  I can’t embarrass myself! What if all of the stuff I accomplished pre-tenure was just residual effects of my dissertation work, and thus really about my adviser and committee, and what if I really, in spite of those accomplishments, am still a fraud?”  That’s often been my inner voice post-tenure.  And I’ve had to learn to turn off that fucked up inner voice, because, as I tell my students, new ideas and new projects are supposed to make us uncomfortable!  It’s such an easy thing to say to students!  Why is it so hard to remember that for ourselves?  But, for me, it has been hard to remember.

Virago then goes on to talk about two (I think) related issues in her current “rut” – first, that she feels like her field has “passed her by” in certain ways, so ideas she has had aren’t “current” or “interesting” given where the field is now, and second, that while she started on what was to be her Next Book during her 2010-2011 sabbatical, she still doesn’t see the whole project in her head, and she feels like she’s having to learn a whole new body of knowledge, which is slow work, in the interstices of regular professional commitments, like teaching.

If I can talk about the difference between my work in graduate school, which led to my first book, and the work that I’m doing now, I would say that I’ve been forced to learn that I need to be much more efficient – that I can’t expect that I’m going to be able to focus exclusively on the New Idea until it is fully formed, but rather that I need to produce as much as I can when I can and then later hope it will all fit together, and so far that’s working-ish – and also that I need to be much more opportunistic – in the sense that I need to pursue every idea and every opportunity (research-wise) without worrying about whether it’s hip or new or awesome or whatever.  I teach a 4/4 load and I’ve done some major heavy-lifting with service.  The fact of the matter is, I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose between my ideas, nor do I have the luxury of uninterrupted time.  (Though I’m going to say something very different in a bit about taking “every opportunity” – I’m only talking about research here.)  I suppose my point here is, I have taken a sort of relaxed approach to my research in some ways: I figure that if I produce (and produce and produce), I’ll figure out what is “new” or what is “appropriately framed” whether through readers’ reports or editorial feedback or whatever.  I no longer have the luxury of trying to consult with my crystal ball, not while working a full-time job as a tenured professor.  In some ways, frankly, that is liberating.

Then Virago writes:

Half the time I just want to throw my hands up and say, “Fuck it, I’d rather be teaching. Maybe I should move to a 4/4 load and give up research.” Except that wouldn’t make me happy, either. In fact, part of the problem is that I’m isolated in my work and don’t have the stimulation of other people in my field or advanced students working on dissertations to teach me new things and keep me current. Giving up on research entirely would exacerbate that feeling and make my rut deeper (even if I keep reinventing my courses, which I always do). And it wouldn’t be good for the students, because one of things that keeps my teaching from being in a rut is bringing in new ideas from my research and others’ (that often includes new-to-me primary texts — there’s a lot of stuff out there that I don’t know and research of various kinds introduces me to it).

As I noted, I teach a 4/4. And I do research.  So.  But so how do I do that?  Yes, I do it from updating my courses, and yes, I do it through my own independent research.  But, in part, I keep up with the research in my field through the work that my undergrads (and my rare MA students) do.  I assign annotated bibliographies in every course I teach now.  And I make guidelines that require students to include at least a certain number of sources that were published within the past three years.  Those annotated bibliographies have been my savior, frankly, because I don’t have the time to just read journals in my field for enrichment.  I also design presentation assignments and book review assignments and literature review assignments for my students that contribute immeasurably to me keeping up with what’s going on in my field.  (And, frankly, even more generally in my teaching field, because with four courses, 2 of which are typically general education, not all of those students are focused on what I’m writing about right now, but they sure are engaged with my teaching areas.)  Teaching and research, I believe, must be reciprocal.  That means that not only does my independent research inform my teaching, but also that my teaching must inform my research.

I know that isn’t possible in all fields, but I think it’s often possible to find a way to make that happen in some fashion if one is creative about what that means.  (Note: I have colleagues who design assignments that are a lot more “creative” and “fun” than what my students do, but I’ll also say that mine are no less student-centered, in that my assignments tend to be the ones that teach my students those valuable skills that get them into graduate and professional school and into full-time jobs upon graduation.  Do I wish my students found my assignments more “fun?”  Sometimes.  But most of the time I’m happy that they are well integrated into my own intellectual projects and that they teach them skills they need to embark on serious intellectual projects of their own.)

And then Virago talks about isolation.  She writes:

Remember when we used to think romantically how digital communications would solve the problem of the isolation of the single scholar who’s the only one in her field at her institution?  Yeah. Right. Frankly, social media and other digital outlets just make me feel *more* isolated. All I see are the cool collaborations and energetic conversations of colleagues who get to talk face-to-face as well as online, and I feel shut out.

What I say here is going to sound strange, maybe, but this is why I totally don’t do social media in my field or blogs in my field.  And I’ve never even toyed with the idea.  I am Fb friends with some people in my field, which is grand, but that’s because they are my friends.  Just like it’s not good to watch the news 24/7, it’s not good to be tapped into all of the conversations in one’s field 24/7.

What I’ve done instead is to cultivate relationships within my department with people outside of my field about research and writing.  No, they don’t know “all the things” in my field, and I don’t know those things in theirs, but they are my… intellectual reservoir… if that makes sense.  Now, it’s worth noting that I was the only person in my (tiny) grad program working in my area while I was in residence, so I’m used to doing this.  And it would be a hell of a lot harder if all my grad school friends who were local had been in my field: I would have felt a much greater sense of loss upon arriving in my current locale, I know.

I guess what I think, about the whole “I don’t have local people who do what I do!” thing, is that this is ok for me.  But it’s only ok because I have lovely friends elsewhere who talk about stuff in my field with me, and I have lovely friends here who might not be in my field but whom are my intellectual soul-mates: we can talk about theory and the discipline and teaching and service – no, they can’t talk about my specific authors with me in more than a cursory way, but all those other things are so important to me, too!  And also: I am (and always have been) weirdly isolationist in my ideas about scholarship.  I like the idea that I might come up with an idea that isn’t informed by (or indebted to) the current conversation.  Sure, I’ll need to inform myself about that before writing up my wacko idea, and I’ll be excited to do that, but if I waited for being regularly involved in the “current field-specific conversation” to have an idea, well, I’d never have one.

Finally, Virago asks:

What say you, oh wise people of the internet? How do I shake off the doldrums? Do you ever feel like this? What do you do to shake off the Blahs and get out of the rut?

I’ve already responded in some ways to these questions.  But here’s where I turn to the metaphorical rut/track stuff at the beginning of the post.  In some ways, I’ve embraced my rut.  It’s great that people know who I am, how I think, and what I have done, and that I get opportunities because of that.  Am I sometimes bored by being the go-to person about x way of approaching y author?  Sure.  But it doesn’t mean that this approach is boring, and, frankly, isn’t that why we all write a first book?  So those things will fall into our laps?  And it’s nice, sometimes, to write an invited article that is right in one’s wheelhouse and that doesn’t push us into new territory – and doing so can even help to generate a new idea in spite of the fact that it’s just going along inside the rut.

But the way that I’ve approached getting out of the rut has been through pursuing things like grants and workshop opportunities outside of my university.  It has been through being much more selective about service – basically after having been a slave to it for four years, I’ve now realized that it’s not my turn anymore, and I have more important things to do with my energy.  It has been through developing new courses (as much work as that is) as opposed to just redesigning ones in my wheelhouse.

But really, emotionally?  It has been through realizing that tenure means never having to say you’re sorry.  I’m no longer on a track, and that is liberating.  I can pursue an idea that turns out to be nothing, and that is totally ok.  I can try something out and have it fail disastrously, and not only won’t I lose my job for that, but also it might lead me to the next amazing thing that I will do.  I no longer have to be “on track.”  I have earned the right to go off the track.  And sometimes that will land you in a rut, but sometimes it will land you on the open road.

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So far this semester, I have: 1) taught 4 major texts (in addition to some articles and things) I’ve never taught before, 2) survived three hideous Tuesdays, 3) done a lot of research-related reading and thinking, though not nearly enough actual writing, 4) presided over a potentially horrifying committee meeting that turned out just to be uncomfortable (this was a victory), 5) participated in assessment stuff in my department, 6) written a book review for a public outreach publication from the university.

This week marks me getting to the 25% mark in the semester, which also means that I’ll be getting my first batch of papers in 3 of four classes.  I am feeling, on the eve of receiving 2 of 4 said papers (the third batch comes Thursday), extremely good about my teaching this semester.  It turns out that when one a) teaches stuff one loves and is worth teaching, and b) devotes oneself anew to teaching, in part based on that enthusiasm for the material, that c) one doesn’t feel totally overburdened by teaching.  Now, of course, when I get this first batch of papers I may feel demoralized, but I don’t think that I will.  Basically, I feel like I’ve got my teaching mojo back, mojo which I’d lost precisely because teaching had fallen out of the top slot on my list of priorities.

With teaching back where it belongs, up on the top of the list, things are – surprise surprise – going much better in the classroom.  Now, let’s note, what’s gotten in the way of my teaching has not been my research.  It has been, without a question, tons of crap which falls under that amorphous heading of “service.”  Administrative bullshit, political maneuvering, mindless busy-work – all things that take me mentally and physically away from serving my students and from producing work that contributes to my discipline.

All of those “service” things are essential to the way that universities run according to a business model of higher education in the 21st century.  This isn’t a matter of faculty shirking their duties to students because of things they’d “rather” do.  I’d much “rather” be focused on my students.  But instead I was convinced that I needed to focus on “accountability measures” and “administrative necessities” and endless, endless amounts of record-keeping, record-keeping that is far beyond the scope of keeping track of students’ performance or educating them, or creating new knowledge through research, research which also contributes to the teaching mission of my institution.

The reality is that I made a decision this semester, one I only have the power to make by virtue of the fact that I earned tenure: I have decided to put my teaching work and intellectual work ahead of the needs of my institution.  And it’s making me a better teacher, and I hope it will make me a better scholar.  But it also means that I’m phoning it in on the things that my institution needs from me in order to run.  I feel comfortable with that trade-off for myself and for my current students and students in the immediate future: I don’t feel comfortable with that trade-off when I think about the future of my institution or the future of higher education.  Also: it’s a luxury for me to make that decision in isolation, because I feel like other people exist who can (and probably should) pick up my slack.

In the State of the Union President Obama put colleges and universities “on notice,” and my state has had us “on notice” for at least the past three years.  None of these notices appear to have much to do with what actually happens in classrooms (or online environments where students learn).  They have to do with money, and they have to do with statistics.  They don’t have much to do with learning, or with knowledge.  In failing to put money and statistics at the top of my list, and putting learning and knowledge there instead, I’m basically ignoring reality.  And that doesn’t mean I don’t see the reality or that I won’t have to reckon with it.  I’m, as much as is possible, looking out for number one – me, my students – but at the end of the day, somebody – faculty, staff, and administrators without the luxury of tenure – will have to take the “notice” seriously, for fear that they will lose their jobs if they don’t, and what they decide or how they respond will then be passed on to the tenured ranks, who at that point won’t have any power to protest.  The consequences ultimately will trickle down to me.  So all I’m doing in choosing to realign my priorities is a kind of futile passive resistance. And I’m relinquishing power as a faculty member, relinquishing shared governance in favor of what I perceive as an immediate good.

But I don’t believe that I have any power to do anything more active.  I no longer believe that fighting the good fight, in terms of service, amounts to anything, for myself, for my students, or for my institution.  So at best all I’m doing is postponing the inevitable, and, at worst, I am, in my own small way, accelerating the demise of public higher education.  (That may be hyperbolic, but it’s the best way I know how to put it.)

The good news is that I’m teaching really good classes.  The good news is that I’m excited to read the work that my students will submit.  The good news is that I’ve for the first time since earning tenure, while not on sabbatical, I’ve felt like I’m doing the work that I entered this profession to do.  The good news is that I don’t feel crazily stressed out or paranoid or filled with dread about going to work every day.

The bad news is that I feel guilty about all of the above, in spite of the fact that all of the above is really central to the work that professors are supposed to do.  And the bad news is that this is the reality of teaching at a public, four-year institution in which the focus is supposed to be on teaching, and particularly on “enrolling and graduating relatively large numbers of low-income students.”

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Actually, that’s been the thing that’s been getting in the way of regular blogging for me this semester.  I’m going full throttle in so many different directions that when I sit down to write I don’t have it in me to write coherently, so then I don’t write here, and then I feel like too much time has passed since last I wrote and I have to catch you all up, and so then I don’t write here some more…. You see how it is.

So I’ve decided to write a post without a coherent topic and just be scattered because that’s the only way to get out of that loop.

Fitness/weight loss

So I’m still doing the weight watchers, but I’m not going to lie: mostly all I do is weigh myself once a week and sort of keep track of what I’m eating in my head.  Apparently, though, the thing with lifestyle change is that you do actually get to a point where you don’t have to spend tons of time and energy thinking about it, because since the start of the school year I’ve lost like 12 more pounds.  Which means that I now have lost the weight of all but year one on the tenure track.  That is super-exciting.  If I can find my way to pre-tenure-track weight by the end of the academic year, I feel like that will be the most awesome thing ever.

Writing

I’m really pleased that I’m doing the Another Damned Notorious Writing Group, as it actually has kept writing on my radar this semester.  I’m about halfway to my writing goal for the semester, which is pretty great given the fact we’re just over halfway through the semester.  So I’m slightly behind my target, but not in a way that is making me want to give up and just start over next semester.  That is a good thing.  Also, I’m feeling… well, I really am feeling good about my project as a whole.  Of course I’d like to be getting more accomplished with it than I can do reasonably, but, well, one can only do what one can do with a 4/4 teaching load and ridiculous service commitments.

Ridiculous Service Commitments

I can’t really talk about these.  Suffice it to say that I’m doing what I can to protect myself and my time, and I’m kicking ass and taking names as much as is possible.  I will say that I find it profoundly irritating when people responsible for a great deal of the bullshit with which I have to deal claim that they are “worried” about my workload and yet do nothing to shift some of the burden off me.  I am also profoundly irritated by having to explain the same things to people over and over again, which makes me feel like a crazy person.

Socializing

So I didn’t actually end up going on that date on Sunday (he had to cancel), and we’ve rescheduled for Friday (in addition to him trying to make plans with me every single day this week, but I’m a busy lady with lots of stuff going on so it does indeed seem like Friday will have to be good enough), and well, I’m glad that I’m forcing myself to have a personal life in addition to a professional one.  My vacation this month was part of that, too, and basically, I’m really seeing that I’m so much better off if I don’t get completely consumed by all the work nonsense.

 

Anyway, I think that’s everything that is going on with me.  And I think that I should eat something and then grade and maybe go for a walk.  But eating is at the top of the list.

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Resources

I am planning a follow-up post to my one about hostility to research from last week, but I need to be in the right mood to write it, so it may take a bit.  (Pontificating takes more energy than rambling, which is what I have the energy to do on this Monday morning.)

Anyway, I said yes to the thing I wrote about on Friday.  I think it’s a good decision to have made.  It’s a position that’s locked into the infrastructure of a web of committees, a position that does require the pushing of paper but that is not an administrative position.  It also is not a position in which I have direct authority over anyone (like I’m not expected directly to supervise or manage people), although the position does come with visible authority.

In other words, I was interested to read the comments to my last post about “resources,” as “resources” don’t really fit with the sort of job this is.  Or at least material resources (administrative support, a budget, etc.) don’t really fit.

Instead, well, how do I put this?  The resources required to do this job are pretty much “resources” you already have to possess in order to be asked to do it.  Maybe “qualities” is a better word here than “resources,” actually.  So, in order to do this job well, a person needs:

  1. To be organized.  Because of all the paper-pushing.  While I don’t enjoy being organized, I can do it if I know that I have to do it.  It’s funny, one of the main factors in choosing to take on this role had nothing to do with the positives or negatives of the job itself.  It had to do with the fact that I’m moving offices this summer, so I knew I would not have to find a way to organize my current space around this job, but rather that I could start in a “clean slate” of an office.  That’s coincidental to being asked to do this, but I really would have thought even more about saying no if my office situation weren’t changing.
  2. The ability to deal with faculty politics.  While that’s a good quality to have just generally as a faculty member, this is the kind of position that really requires it.  In other words, one needs to be able to negotiate competing demands from faculty from different units, to facilitate compromise, to inspire a baseline level of trust in order to lead when necessary.
  3. Experience with the issues over which one would have some responsibility in the position.  In order to be asked, you need to have a track record in place.
  4. Not only do you need the trust and respect of faculty that you organize, you also need the trust of faculty around the university that you don’t, chairs of other committees, and administrators.  That’s kind of the secret of committee work, as far as I can tell: if you want to get things done, you can’t be hated.  This isn’t to say that people won’t disagree with you, or that you have to be Miss Congeniality, but you can’t get work done if people don’t like, trust, and respect you enough to let you do the work.
  5. People need to think you’re smart about and willing to work for the issues over which you’ll have some power.  If they think you’re a dummy, or that you’re not hard-working, you won’t be asked to do this sort of thing.

So anyway, if those are the resources required, I do have them.  (Sometimes I wish I didn’t, but that’s sort of like wishing to be shorter or wishing to have smaller feet.  I am who I am, and there ain’t no changing it.)

But so what’s in it for me?  I mean, it’s clear what’s in it for my institution and other interested parties, but why did I say yes?  (Aside from the fact that I think I’ll be good at it.)

  1. It really was a pretty big deal to be asked, as it demonstrates that people see me a faculty leader on campus about something that is intrinsic to our mission.  That wouldn’t have been good enough on its own to get me to say yes, but it was a factor.
  2. The position is a highly visible service position at the university, and serving in this sort of position can do a whole lot to solidify one’s application for promotion.  My idea is that I will serve in this position for 3-5 years (assuming it’s not a disaster – if it’s a disaster I’ll be out at the end of next year), which will take me to my promotion to full and then I will pass the position to someone next in line on the tenure ladder.
  3. I really, really care about the thing that this position oversees, and I see the potential to do some really good work that will affect my institution in the long term.  (Most people don’t know that I want to facilitate a certain amount of revolution, yet, but I do have some revolutionary ideas, and it would be awesome if I could shepherd those along.)
  4. Taking on this position will give me license to say no to some department-level service that I find distasteful, and to be less involved in some department-level service that is time-consuming.
  5. This position will put me in a good position to mentor somebody to take over for me in terms of department representation to this thing, and I care a lot about mentoring as well as about thinking about extricating myself from this particular type of service before it makes me paranoid and dead inside.  I care a lot about not becoming paranoid and dead inside.

Ok, so I need to get started with my day.  I need to go to campus, take care of some stuff there including a trip to the library, some grading, and some service stuff, and then I need to come home and take care of prep for tomorrow.  I really, really can’t wait until the semester is over.

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So, I had a pretty fabulous weekend, which involved just about no work.  Friday I finally saw True Grit (AWESOME), Saturday I went to buy some more knitting supplies (I’m nearly done with scarf #1 but since I don’t know how to finish anything, I figured I needed to put it aside and start something new so as to keep practicing) and then spent the evening chilling and knitting and catching up with people on the phone, and then yesterday I… yeah, I just kind of wasted the day.  Well, I guess I did go to the grocery store.

I don’t regret any of the above, but the week ahead is going to kick my ass.  Which, of course, I knew ahead of time, which was one reason why I took the weekend to relax.

This week involves:

  • 6 or 7 meetings, some with students, some with committees, and some that are neither of the above.
  • Starting new material in 4 of 4 classes.  (The one thing I should have done this weekend was reread for what I’m teaching, though to be fair I’ve taught 3/4 of it enough times that such rereading isn’t totally necessary.)
  • My parents coming to town at the end of the week.
  • A writing deadline.

So, I suppose, basically what I’m saying is that by the time I hit Saturday, I’ll likely be so pooped that I’ll just spend next weekend relaxing, too.

I do have other things that I’ve been thinking about, and which might make for material for posts, but I just don’t have the energy to take any of those on.

I hate February.

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