I am now much happier than I was when I started this post because the electrician came and fixed the electricity. Now I can, for instance, take a tepid, not a freezing shower if I want to, and if it is dark, I have light in the bathroom. This is after twelve days.
That, perhaps, is why I was thinking that while everyone else posts on what professors should do, I would rather think about what we need. These are the things I think you need to survive in the profession and do well. Not all of them are easily attainable, however.
Some faculty will read my list and say I clearly have desires too bourgeois to be a serious academic. Others will be amazed that I am willing to admit I have working conditions which impelled me to even think about some of the items on this list.
1. Really nutritious food at regular intervals. Otherwise you are weak. It is not always easy to get or afford such food, however.
2. Superman-style workouts. You have to be bionic. However, with the kind of work week professors, doctors, and lawyers have the lack of time for such workouts is not always just an excuse.
3. Nine hours of sleep every night. Again, this is not always allowed.
4. Cultural enrichment that really is enriching. This is rarely available.
5. Visits with friends who are really friends, not just social contacts. These are very difficult to arrange.
1. A good city and/or a good spouse. You cannot live by yourself and handle an academic job in the country, in the suburbs, and/or in a red state. The only successful people I have ever seen do this have spouses helping them materially and/or financially. If you expect to have any sort of career you should marry a portable and supportive person in graduate school.
2. At least one of these: a light teaching schedule, a library, or a very large budget for books and journals. You cannot travel to libraries on a heavy teaching schedule, nor is interlibrary loan designed to replace a standard collection.
3. Good, responsible students, enough of whom are majoring in your field (or in allied fields) so that they have some familiarity with it. These are far less draining than other kinds of students, especially lower division students taking required courses.
4. Academic freedom, freedom from harassment, and competent management offering both support and autonomy as well as doing its part to make the university look like one such.
5. A large enough salary that you do not have to spend too much intellectual energy on the question of how to get through the second half of the month and that you do not think twice about seeing a doctor when sick.
1. A large enough salary to have a reliable car, unless you live where these are absolutely unnecessary.
2. A large enough salary not to have to put off minor home repairs, if you live in an area where buying is more easily affordable than renting.
3. Travel funds. It would be nice to be able to go to a conference a year, and go on a modest vacation, and visit home — not to have to chose only one of these, or choose two and combine them.
I would like to read Eric Newfield’s Unmaking the Public University, and discuss it on a Reading for Pleasure Wednesday.