Next Year Starts Now

Graduation was this weekend and meetings about next year start tomorrow. Since next year starts tomorrow, we will remember to write our own job descriptions and not volunteer. I have of course just agreed to chair a really onerous committee for the next two years, so I am not qualified to speak on this matter — although I believe everything will be fine.

The advice in these posts from Tenured Radical and Historiann is really good and really deep. I learned it in graduate school, of course, but what I did not learn was how to apply it in non-R1 situations. You have to do more — but when are you, despite all appearances, falling into the traps TR and H describe?

Once we stopped everything to build program. The theory was that without some structure, we were unable to control our days and would lose research time to having no research atmosphere. We were lost anyway, so we would build for the next generation. It did work, although the sacrifice was the one foreseen. Perhaps things would have worked out on their own.


4 thoughts on “Next Year Starts Now

  1. I am yet to meet a single colleague who volunteers for service because they are too nice or are afraid of long silences, like these posts suggest. This semester my colleagues were literally at each other’s throats, fighting each other for the right to be on committees. A lot of service is supposed to obscure the absence of research during tenure and merit reviews. That’s all there is to it.

    Let’s not necessarily suspect academics of stupidity, like TR and HA always seem to do. People in academia are smart. They do exactly what they need.

  2. I guess that is my problem with at least TR’s tone — the assumption that academics are stupid.

    I’ve been guilted into service before, against my desires, priorities and better judgment. And I volunteer for projects that I think will help further teaching and research goals (i.e. remove obstacles to these).

    But does this work for your colleagues — do they actually get promoted for service? Because when I’ve seen people fight to be on committees, it’s usually been just because they want a platform from which to exert power.

  3. In my experience, people won’t be denied tenure because of insufficient service. But at 4-4 teaching colleges, it can be a good excuse to deny you tenure when there are other reasons (they just don’t like you). Every institution has different requirements for tenure, but as far as I know, it’s teaching and/or scholarship what counts.

  4. My main department where I am now is huge and has many subunits. Some of them have plenty of people in them to get stuff done. We tenured someone with very little service — they hadn’t been needed much, and it had been decided just to let them kick it with research and teaching. They duly did that, while also while making enough generally sensible remarks over the years so people could tell that when as a more senior person they were needed to do service, they’d be competent.

    In other subunits service is more important because there are so many adjuncts, who can’t do it, that service is of necessity part of the job from Day 1. If you don’t do service, we’re irritated since we have to do yours.
    Still, extraordinary service will get you nowhere.

    I’ve been guilted and pressed before into service I didn’t consider necessary or desirable, which I regret. Now I’ve just taken on a service role I didn’t have to but am willing to for very specific reasons, i.e. it means working with some very positive people and I think it will be good for me professionally as well as personally. But I don’t expect a raise for it, and I recognize that in theory, it will cut into research time. (My hope is that it will energize me such that I become happier and more efficient generally.)

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