The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The joys of departmental process

Today I got to sit in a full faculty meeting becuase I am the chair of the department's Curriculum Committee and I needed to be present to take notes on an issue that was up for discussion. This is not the first time I have been in these meetings. I have been a student representative for my class twice, so I am well aware of how these meetings typically go.

What never really fails to impress me is how office business is conducted in higher education. Now I only have knowledge of how things work at the department level within my own department. But it is amazing to me how slowly things seem to move. I am also impressed by how passionate some individuals become on certain topics. Sometimes these passions are not shared by all and results in long disucssions of items that people outside of the group (and perhaps in the group) might view as unimportant, mundane, or nit-picky. I am quite sure that this is not unique to the department that I am in.

But I am very glad to have experienced these meetings and have been introduced to all of the issues that academics must think about. Some of the issues that I would have thought unimportant, I can now see how it could greatly affect one's career such as how teaching, research and service are assessed within a system. Questions that I would not have thought to ask on my (hopeful) job interviews, I now can ask with knowledge and realize the importance of the answers to these questions.

There are so many behind-the-scenes activities that I was never aware of, and probaly would not have been unless I had decided to actively participate in the activities of departmenal business. I have been very fortunate to have leadership in my department that allows graduate students to have these experiences.


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