What faculty members do with their time!

On July 10, following an Article by Audry Williams June entitled “Efforts to Measure Faulty Workload Don’t Add Up” The Chronicle of Higher Education published three articles from three faculty members at the University of Texas, Dallas entitled “What I do with my time”  The three faculty members included one from biomed (Lee A. Bulla Jr.), one arts and humanities (Pamela Gossin) and from art and performance (Fred Curchak) [all links here require authentication]  What was interesting to me was not only the variety of how they spend their time, but their different styles of work.  The Chronicle gives us for each the number of sections taught, the number of students each teaches, their research grants (none had any at the time of their interviews) and their annual salaries (presumably this is a matter of public record).  While clearly these three do not necessarily represent the wide variety of faculty across higher ed much less those at my own institution, it was instructive to look at what they mentioned and what they didn’t.  All three mentioned teaching and some form of class preparation (although only two appeared to be looking ahead to developing new class content).  Acting as peer reviewers, serving on committees, advising, counseling, supervising postdocs, doing research, grants (or thinking about them) all appeared among the activities, none of which were surprising.  What was surprising?  Watching!  Two mentioned in their class prep they were watching TV or film documentaries for potential use in their classes.  The other surprise was the odd collection of snarky comments that appeared especially following Prof. Gossin’s schedule.   But, this is standard behavior.  Lessons here for outreach?

Look for connections to the library.  The obvious one is class preparation which all faculty appear to do, whether it be far in advance or at the last minute.  Supervising postdocs is another area of interest.  We’ve only a tenuous connection to them now, yet one of my colleagues points out, that like new faculty,  they know the least about the libraries when they arrive.  Some ideas:

  • Providing/feeding relevant literature for upcoming (i.e. planned) classes via new titles lists, RSS feeds from key journals, saved searches [our new discovery tool can save searches]  — but SDI is hardly a new idea, maybe just one we shouldn’t forget.
  •  Include postdocs among outreach effort to new faculty.  Since this number is considerably larger than new faculty appointments, we may want to target a few departments.  Who are the supervisors?

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