If you don’t value your time, nobody else will value it either.

I think the goal with service is to do just enough and no more than that.  The goal is to do something visible, something that will help you professionally, and most importantly, something that has a set goal and a set ending date.

I like: admissions, scholarships, organizing speaker series, etc.

I avoid like the plague: faculty senate, women’s faculty group, diversity committees, etc.

Hm… I notice that some of these time-sucks are things that are supposed to help women and minorities.  Ironic.  I blame the patriarchy.

How to get out of unwanted service?  Volunteer for wanted service ASAP and use that service as an excuse to not possibly have time for other types of service.  For example, an untenured professor is only supposed to be on one school-wide committee.  I begged onto the university scholarship committee.  I said that it will help my work on the admissions committee and will help us to build a good student body.  Now when I am asked (again) about the women’s faculty group, I will say, Oh, I’m sorry, I’m already on a university-wide committee and my mentors say that as an untentured professor I shouldn’t take any more time away from my research by being on more than one outside committee.

#2 says: I agree with you.  However, this tactic works much less well when you don’t have enough faculty to do everything that needs to be done.  I do more service than I would like, but I still say no a lot.  Small departments make this hard.  My senior colleagues want to protect my time, but stuff has to get done, somebody has to do it, and they value my input.  Oh well.  At least they are nice!

#1:  No, I definitely agree that we need to do some service.  But we don’t need to do MORE than our fair share (even if we’re missing that essential get-out-of-work free Y chromosome, IBTP) , and we certainly don’t need to be on committees that meet all the time and never produce anything but whining.  I love my department because we don’t have very much of the not producing anything committees (even the curriculum committee doesn’t meet without an end-goal in advance) and our chair has allowed a lot of administrative things to be outsourced to professional administrators (aka highly qualified administrative assistants), which hasn’t resulted from any complaints from me!

5 Responses to “Service”

  1. frugalscholar Says:

    Luckily, I’m incompetent at paperwork, so my service requirements were minimal. There’s always someone who excels at service and takes on everything very ostentatiously–let that person follow his/usually her bliss.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    That’s an interesting strategy, incompetence. It never worked for me with dish washing though– my parents just replaced things with plastic. I haven’t had to do any paperwork yet… it’s all been meetings and ranking and the admin take care of the paperwork.

    Our big service person stopped after she got tenure… which is probably the reverse of the strategy I would have picked if I wanted to do a lot of service during my career. Though I guess she did replace some of that pre-tenure service with required post-tenure service, like voting on whether or not we remaining grunts get tenure.

  3. Z Says:

    Haha. I always vote against tenure on people who feign incompetence at paperwork, or are actually incompetent at it. They’re pushing it on the rest of us, including other untenured faculty, which is hostile. Given that, (a) what do I owe them and (b) why should I shoot myself and the rest of us in the foot by fighting to keep such an inconsiderate colleague?

    (I’m not for giving junior faculty paperwork in the first place, of course, but — if you start something and then expect others to finish it for you, you lose lots of points in my book; also, I am not well suited to academia myself because these passive aggressive strategies like alleging incompetence to get out of work are very common and not at all to my taste.)

    I like faculty senate – it’s minimal work and it’s entertaining, and you find things out, and you meet people from faraway departments. I dislike organizing speaker series as it is all too time consuming and labor intensive.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    In our dept, the admin assistants do all the icky work from organizing speaker series. So the faculty member who is in charge gets to make connections and meet outside people (very important!) without having to deal with reservations and things. I can see how it could get labor intensive without that. Our faculty senate seems to give our faculty senators *homework* which is not something I got a PhD to keep doing.

    I guess that’s an important point. What is labor intensive will vary a lot by department. It’s good to find out the lay of the land before choosing.

  5. Z Says:

    Here, the work of a speaker series involves first writing the small grants to get funding, moves through all that paperwork, invoices and things, to reserving rooms and testing equipment, and you have to do publicity which is a big project, and then organizing the hosting of a visitor from elsewhere is no small project. Then repeat for the next visitor, it can really be a full time job. For meeting people, I’m happier inviting them to be on conference panels — that way we all get to go somewhere we want to go, and meet yet more people, and it’s much less total work.

    Senate “homework”, well this is part of shared governance and it’s kind of important. Defending the library budget, fighting disadvantageous changes to tenure and promotion policies that some outside consultant dreamed up to try and limit tenure track and tenured lines to a minimum and ramp up the overuse of adjuncts, stuff that matters. And you don’t have work that you don’t vote upon yourself, and usually each piece of work is done by a committee, which means it’s done by the chair of that committee mostly, with input from committee members, so it can be an hour a week or something but I’m willing. It’s also just sort of a breath of fresh air, you get to work with people not from your own possibly neurotic department, you work with people you don’t know, so it’s a sane working atmosphere which is refreshing.

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