10 November 2007

The first post

About a month ago, there was some discussion about workload and expectations at Notorious Ph.D.'s , inspired by a post at Reassigned Time (but Dr Crazy no longer has older posts available). My first post seems like a good place to talk about those issues, to give readers a sense of who I am.

I am a tenured professor at a large regional university. I teach 5 courses per year. Teaching, research, and service are weighted at 40%, 40%, 20%, though that's not really how time typically breaks down in any given week or even month.

Teaching eats time; perhaps I'm just not efficient enough about grading, or have overly high expectations about the amount of writing my students should do. I regularly teach a course that introduces undergraduates to the major, 2-3 undergraduate courses in my field, and 1-2 graduate courses, usually in my field, sometimes the introduction to research methods. I also serve on some dissertation committees.

My department tries to spare junior faculty heavy service; the university has a strong self-governance structure; these points together mean that tenured people have a lot of committee work. We post-tenure profs are expected to serve on at least one "major" committee every year, and to have other "minor" appointments, as well. "Major" means meeting for at least two hours a week, with homework. I have served on governance committees at department, college, and university levels; on curriculum committees at department and university levels; and on hiring committees at department and college levels.

Research is expected and important, and we have regular debates about what counts: is editing a journal research or is it service to the profession? If you edit a collection of texts that can be used for teaching but which also form part of your research, is that edition teaching or research? How much do editions count, anyway? The safe thing to do is publish at least one essay per year (how many pages? How much do we count this venue as against that?) or a book every 4-5 years.

At the same time, as a regional university rather than a flagship, we have to stress teaching, especially when dealing with budget issues. Many of our students have no idea what "research" is, or why it is important that professors do it. Most of our students enroll because this school is convenient for them, not because they want to study something in particular (or with someone in particular) or even just because this is "a good school."

Compared to other people who answered this question, I have a terrific position. I appreciate that, and I love my job. And yet I probably have a lot of the same complaints you do about too much grading (though we assign it ourselves) and not enough time for research, and not enough money to go to conferences, and the effort to balance work and life.

I hope to use this blog to talk about general issues in teaching, research and service (no identifiable student or colleague stories), and to make contact with other medieval and early modernist bloggers.

6 comments:

Bardiac said...

Welcome to blogland :)

medieval woman said...

Welcome to the blogosphere and thanks for alerting me to your new blog! It sounds to me like we have almost identical positions - same load, same research expectations, etc.

I'll look forward to reading more of your posts!

Dr. Virago said...

Welcome Dame Hull! Huzzah!

And like Medieval Woman, I secretly think we're all at the same university. ;)

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Hello! Nice to see another medievalist!

squadratomagico said...

Hi there!

Stephanie Trigg said...

Terrific! A medieval blogger after my own heart! I look forward to more posts...

5 courses seems a lot to me. But no one seems to do as much administration in the US as we do in Australia. Sometimes it's a relief just to get safely into the classroom and talk about texts.

Anyways, just making contact, as requested.