Sunday, February 01, 2009

What's valued and what counts

It's annual review season, and as usual, we are asked for the same information sliced-and-diced in different ways for different purposes. One of the forms for upper administration asks us to count things and has specific requirements for what we can include.

1. What counts: number of books published.
  • What doesn't: time spent warming a chair in colleagues' presentations in order to show support.
  • Attendance at faculty meetings.
  • Showing up at various university functions for which the organizers get a vita line and glowing praise for putting on such a successful and informative event.
2. What counts: articles published.
  • What doesn't: time spent preparing courses, grading, and talking with students. Advising.
3. What counts: giving papers at national and international conferences.
  • What doesn't: working at the organizational level (committees) to make those conferences happen.
But at the department level, all those things are valued. As a recent meeting made clear, at a department level, we ask those questions: who's advising students? Who does a good job in the classroom? Who, at the most basic level, is here and doing the things that make the place run?

The old Woody Allen dictum is that eighty percent of success is just showing up. Upper admin only cares about the other 20%, but the department does care about the 80%.


heu mihi said...

You and I teach at opposite institutions.

And while it is nice, in many ways, that all the day-to-day stuff is what counts around here, I kind of hate the thought that, if I *do* publish my book, the college simply won't really care, at all--except insofar as they see it as a threat, thinking it means that I'm planning to leave for more research-focused pastures.

undine said...

I hope that they wouldn't see your book as anything but a real accomplishment, heu mihi.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Heu Mihi -- I think you have just confirmed my impression that your college and my former college are Twin Institutions Separated At Birth.