Using Your First Years Efficiently: What I wish I’d known…

A few weeks ago I was asked to come to a “New Faculty Forum” and give a talk on this topic. Always keen to follow my own advice, my initial reaction was to Just Say No – after all it takes time to prepare these things, and the timing of the actual session was right in the middle of my office hours for undergraduate students. However, it was a friend that asked – the friend who originally suggested that I write this blog, in fact – so it took me only a microsecond to decide to say “yes” instead.

Attending the forum was instructive for me, as there were two other speakers in addition to me (the old fart): one was a fairly new prof and the other a more mid-career level person. Their advice was very different from mine – in fact they mentioned (more than a few times) how they approached things differently than me – which just goes to show you: we never stop learning in this job – even an old prof can learn some new tricks.

Here’s the advice that I offered to the group…

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Chasing the rabbit – how much is enough?

Treadmill_womanA question that frequently haunted me when I was a new professor was, “How much is enough?”  More specifically it was a series of questions,

“How much research money is enough?”

“How many graduate students are enough?”

How many evenings and weekends of work are enough?”

And the biggie…

“How many journal papers per year are enough?” Continue reading

Just Say No!

A few years ago, I called a colleague at another university to get the inside track on one of his former students who had applied to our graduate program.  Our conversation went something like this…

ME: “Hi there – how are you doing?”

HE: “Good thanks, insanely busy. You?”

ME: “Yep – the same.  I won’t keep you; I just wanted to ask you a quick question.”

HE: “Okay, but beware – I’m in my ‘No!’ mood today.”

I was floored…  his ‘No!’ mood?  I had never heard of this before but I knew exactly what he meant the minute he said it.  Thankful that I hadn’t called to ask him to ‘do’ anything (other than tell me a bit about a student), I quickly concluded my business and let him go.  After I hung up the phone I leaned back in my chair and stared into space, contemplating the earth shattering implications of this amazing revelation.  He has a ‘No!’ mood, I thought.  Absolutely brilliant, I definitely gotta get me one of those. Continue reading