Warning! In order to help maintain my work-life balance, I have not proofread this essay. Expect infilicities!
On Friday, 28 January 2017, the subject of Grinnell’s weekly Faculty Friday series was
Work-Life Balance. We had an opening presentation by Georgeanna Robinson, our Associate Director of of Qualitative Research . A few faculty then gave short presentations about how they managed their own balances.
As is the norm at some faculty fridays, we sat at tables so that we could discuss issues during and after the talks. At my table were about five new faculty in their first year, one staff member in their third year, and one faculty member who has been at Grinnell longer than I have been. Since it appears that I’m a known character on campus, the ECF faculty  asked me questions about my own experience in working on these issues. Particularly since I spent most of the session on my laptop, preparing my 1pm and 2pm classes, I think I owe those colleagues a more thoughtful response. I hope this piece suffices.
It strikes me that I should structure my essay through a series of words that start with the letter R. I will quickly review Robinson’s key points to provide context for the remaining sections. I will step back and look at the responsibilities that most faculty must consider. I will then provide my own recommendations of habits that I think ECF faculty should develop. I’m a curmudgeon, so I will follow with a short rant and some reactions to the presentation. I will recollect a model I heard early in my career. I did hear one comment that made me rejoice, and so I will discuss that. I will then reflect on my own experiences . Finally, I will try to provide a short recap of the prior sections. That’s a lot to do, so let’s get started.
Robinson began by noting that she dislikes the
work/life balance model for a number of reasons, not least that it sets the two issues in conflict with each other and raises the metaphor of one of those scales in which when one thing goes up, the other goes down (or vice versa). I believe she also noted that work is a part of life .
Robinson suggested that we instead think of another metaphor: Your life is a series of pots that need to be filled with some regularity. You have pots for your scholarship, your teaching, and more. But you don’t have to fill every pot every day (and perhaps not even every week). Robinson suggested that we think in two-month blocks. She also suggested that we think about what
acceptably full is for each pot .
Robinson also challenged us to think about a two-by-two grid, with one axis representing urgency of tasks and one representing importance of tasks. For example, it’s often the case that your scholarship is important, but not urgent. A form to fill out for the College may be urgent, but perhaps not all that important .
Along the way, Robinson provided a variety of useful pieces of advice. I will not recount them. Rather, I will incorporate them in the recommendations that follow after the next section.
I believe that one of the members of my table said something like
I’m not sure what jars I have to fill, or that I have that many . Even if they didn’t, I think it’s useful to think broadly about our responsibilities as faculty members, and so we’ll consider those responsibilities next. Responsibilities are not
jars in the Robinson metaphor; rather, they are classes or groups of jars. The first two are the ones I consider most important; it is likely that each person will prioritize the remaining ones differently.
Your first responsibility is to yourself. If you do not keep yourself reasonably healthy, happy, sane, and rested, you cannot meet your other responsibilities. If you do not choose a path that leads to tenure (or however you define career success), it will be difficult for you to continue to support certain responsibilities .
Your second responsibility is to your family, however you define it. In almost every other case below, other people can do what you do. But you alone have the role you have in your family. Give them the time they deserve.
You have responsibilities to your scholarly work. You chose a career in academia because you enjoy advancing knowledge and you likely have some skill at it. Some of your time and effort needs to be spent on this kind of work.
You have responsibilities to your classes. Teaching is a significant aspect of your Grinnell career, and requires your attention. Teaching also appears to involve many different threads: You need to prepare classes; you need to conduct those classes; you need to write assignments; you need to grade some of those assignments; you need to keep current on the material related to your course; you need to consider different ways to teach; and you need to do other things that I’m too lazy to come up with right now.
You have responsibilities to your students. You may wonder why I have separated students from classes. You certainly have a responsibility to the students in your classes. However, the more time you spend at Grinnell, the more you’ll find that your responsibilities go beyond those students. You will have letters of recommendation to write, advice to give on career or scholarship or graduate school or life, counseling to dispense, and more.
You have responsibilities to your department. At Grinnell, we expect that departments work collaboratively to advance their mission . Most departments have a variety of parts to their mission: They educate majors in the discipline, they contribute to the broader liberal arts education of all students, they support the discipline, and more.
You also have responsibilities to the institution as a whole. Grinnell has a strong tradition of faculty governance, and that requires that faculty members take some responsibility for institution-wide endeavors and initiatives.
You have responsibilities to your discipline. You meet some of that responsibility with your scholarly work, work that helps advance the discipline. But most disciplines also need faculty to do various forms of service, large and small: reviewing, arranging seminars and panels, inviting speakers, giving talks, coordinating mailing lists, mentoring other faculty, and so on and so forth.
Although it is implicit in the prior responsibilities, I will remind you that you have responsibilities to your colleagues and collaborators in the department, the institution, the discipline, and beyond. Foremost of those responsibilities is being clear about what you are and are not able to contribute.
You have a life beyond your profession, and have responsibilities to your friends (and, perhaps, your acquaintances). I’ll let you judge what those responsibilities are.
You have responsibilities to your community. If you want to rely on activities and opportunities around you, you should also contribute as you are able. As educated and relatively affluent members of our community, we should have many things to contribute. A key part of Grinnell’s mission is helping to develop our students into citizens; if we are not also good citizens, we cannot expect the same of our students .
Of course, your citizenship is not just local. You have a broader responsibility to the country and to the world.
Yeah, that’s a lot of responsibility. And I’ve likely left some out. You should note that there is an ebb and flow between categories of responsibilities. At times in your career, you will focus more on one set of responsibilities; at others, you will focus on a different set.
How do you balance all of these responsibilities ? As someone who does not do a good job, I’ll suggest that you develop good habits early in your career If you develop them now, they will carry you far. Here are some things that I know help, that I have heard help, and that I think might help. I cannot hope to properly credit all of the people who have helped me learn these things, but I will note that Cynthia Hansen, Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, Josh Sandquist, and Georgeanna Robinson talked about many of these issues in the faculty friday presentation. I have not presented them in any particular order.
Have at least one workload mentor. Having someone who you can talk to about your workload and can help you think through relative importance of tasks is really important, particularly early in your career. Your mentor can also help you with some of these other recommendations. Note that your mentor need not be someone older or more experienced than you; you can be peer workload mentors and you can even have people younger than you provide mentorship. Karla Erickson serves as one of my key workload mentors; although she’s about five years junior to me, she is significantly more accomplished at reflecting on workload. Janet Davis served as another; although I am senior to Janet, I do think of us as peer workload mentors.
Learn to say no. You don’t have to accept every task or responsibility that someone asks you to do. You don’t even have to accept most. But it’s hard to say
no, because the people who ask are usually people who you respect  or interact with regularly. But you should realize you won’t do as good a job if you say
yes to everything, or even to most things. A good intermediate step is to say
Let me think about that or
Let me consult with my mentor about that. That way, you actually have time to reflect or consult. As importantly, you also can say
no without rejecting someone immediately. However, if you do delay your response, please respond relatively quickly, because the person who asked you will need to go on to the next person in their list.
Some of our speakers suggested that you make a list of what you are doing already, and to include even the minutia, so that you can give an excuse as to why you are saying no. I don’t think you should have to make excuses. People should understand when you say
I don’t have time for that or
That’s not the right thing for me to do right now.
Learn when and when not to volunteer. In my own experience, my problems with having too many tasks come not just from things that people ask me to do, but from things I volunteer to do. I note that my professional society needs someone to do X. I say
I can do X and volunteer. The College is doing something that would benefit from some technical expertise. I say
Don’t you think you should have me on that committee? Some of these cases are worth my time, not least because they may stave off more work later. But I know that I volunteer for way too much.
Trust others to do the work. For many of the things you do, or can do, there are also others who can do the same. In my professional society example above, I’m pretty sure that no matter what I volunteer to do, others could also volunteer to do the same. There are also other people on campus who have technical expertise. Developing trust in others also lets you say no to more things. (
You don’t need me on that committee; there are at least a dozen other faculty who could do just as well.) Trusting others can also reduce workload within tasks. Again and again, I have found that when doing committee work at Grinnell, enough people pick up their share of the load that no one has to do everything. (I’m a control freak, so I’m tempted to try to do too much; I’ve found that I work with such excellent people that I don’t have to.)
Learn to delegate. Most of us are used to doing things for ourselves, particularly since we’ve come to academia directly from graduate school, where we didn’t have others we could ask to do things . But you have a host of other people who are supposed to help you with your work, or can help you with your work: Academic Support Assistants, student research assistants, senior colleagues , and so on and so forth. It’s hard; almost no one will do things as well as you will. But sometimes it’s better to have an
okay job done by someone else, rather than to do an excellent job yourself. Here’s a silly example: I tend to do all of my own photocopying, particularly from books , because I find that others aren’t careful to (a) make sure the book is perfectly flat and (b) put white paper around the edges to make sure that there aren’t ugly  black borders on the photocopies. That’s a waste of my time; no one cares but me. But I find it hard to delegate even this simple task.
good enough some of the time. This point is one that Robinson referred to as
satisfice and that my wife’s research supervisor referred to as
perfect is the enemy of good. While it’s wonderful to strive for perfection, achieving perfection in some things gives us very little time to achieve anything else. Try to figure out what is
good enough for you to get by. There will always be some areas in which you will not (or cannot) compromise, but try to increase the number in which you will.
Pay or trade to avoid tasks that have to be done, but that others can do. While it may feel like a reflection of privilege, you can pay others to clean your house, or mow your lawn, or wash your clothes, or do the many other everyday tasks that need to be done. Robinson suggested that you can also identify everyday tasks you like (e.g., weeding the garden) and trade with someone else who likes doing another task (e.g., laundry).
Develop communities that provide support and accountability. You aren’t the only one with many responsibilities. Having a group of friends or colleagues (or both) that you can talk to, receive advice from, or just hang out with can make a huge difference. There’s also good evidence that having a group of people that you report to regularly on progress on your various projects helps you move forward on those projects. Grinnell’s SWAG  communities provide one mechanism for accountability, but you can create an accountability community with colleagues at other institutions or outside of formal mechanisms. If I recall correctly, Elaine Marzluff, Liz Queathem, and I had a small accountability community in our first year or two at the College.
Reserve time in your schedule and guard it. Almost every member  of my department has a three-or-more hour block each week that appears on their schedule as
research. By giving themselves that time, and making sure that no one else uses it, they are able to be more productive. Putting the time on your schedule isn’t the hard part ; guarding it is. Practice guarding that time. There are a number of other things you can include on your schedule, such as wellness and family time. My colleague, Janet Davis, had
Walking office hours, which gave her wellness time, modeled good behavior, and provided a form of synergy. When the were younger, I used to have time marked as
Kids on my schedule .
Advocate for yourself. I mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. Feel comfortable telling people that you can’t do something. Remind people of major tasks that are on your plate, tasks for which you could use assistance. Ask for help. Ask for resources. Don’t be a PITA , but do ask.
Have people to advocate for you. Most frequently, the person to advocate for you is your chair. They can say
Given where my colleague is on their career path, I don’t think that doing this task will be good for them. Chairs can also advocate for you at many different levels. There have been times when a student has really wanted to do a MAP with a faculty member and, because of the relationship between the student and the faculty member, I have to step in and say
I know that Prof. X really wants to work with you. But, looking at department needs for next semester, I can’t allow it.
Look for synergies. Janet’s
walking office hours is a nice synergy. Some committee and professional service can support multiple aspects of your career. Some community work can draw upon your scholarship, and perhaps even build it. Teaching your subject sometimes helps you understand it better, and can help you find research assistants. My colleague, Peter-Michael Osera, runs a reading group every spring. The reading group helps ensure that he stays current on the literature. It serves students who learn new ideas in CS. And it helps him identify students who will help bring his research forward.
Don’t feel that you have to take advantage of every exciting opportunity. An amazing number of opportunities start ot appear as you progress through your career: grants and fellowships, course development, cool workshops and bootcamps, and oh so much more. Getting support for doing new things is great, and it’s hard not to try to take advantage of opportunities. However, you should remember that more opportunities will appear. They may not be the same opportunities, but there will almost always be some cool thing that you can do.
Develop a system/strategy to manage your tasks. As the
responsibilities section above suggests, you have a lot of different things you have to do. People who have systems to keep track of tasks, and to prioritize them, seem to be calmer and more successful. Really smart people I know tell me that they have found the Getting Things Done approach particularly useful. I’m just reading the book now, so I can’t speak to personal experience. However, it does sound appealing.
Learn to estimate. When I complained about the number of tasks that I did not complete over some break, Janet Gibson, my colleague in Psychology, told me that most humans are subject to what she calls 24]: we always assume that we can do more than we can, even if we know about the planning fallacy . But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do better . One of the important learning outcomes of our software design curriculum is that students become better at estimating how long tasks take. How do we help them do so? Each week, we have each group review the tasks that they plan to complete and assign
points to each task. Larger numbers mean more time; smaller numbers mean less time. For those who have trouble, I suggest that they assign numbers that reflect the number of hours they expect each task to take. Then, at the end of the week , we look at how many points of work the group has accomplished, which some refer to as the
velocity of the team. When things go well, velocity stays relatively consistent, and students get better at assigning numbers to tasks. For whatever reason, I’ve not done the same with my various professional tasks, and it shows . But I do think it’s an approach many professional could try. I wouldn’t suggest that you estimate every task; just the nontrivial ones.
You don’t have to adopt or adapt all of these practices immediately. However, as I said at the beginning of this section, if you start some of these practices early in your career, they are likely to help you throughout your career.
You may note that if you follow the above recommendations, you should probably say
no to most College-wide committees, particularly those that don’t relate directly to your work. That approach is certainly fine in the first few years of your career. However, the institution really does require strong faculty governance. Once you’ve passed the three-year mark, and certainly once you’ve passed the tenure/promotion mark, you need to be willing to do some broader service. Having served on the Faculty Organization Committee , which tries to faculty to the various College committees, I get incredibly frustrated at faculty who list only one or two committees on which they are willing to serve when they have other minor or already-compensated commitments.
I’m doing an Innovation Fund project, and should not do committee work. Sorry, but you’re getting a course release for your Innovation Fund project. Who do you expect to do committee work if you won’t?
I’m a center director. I’m only willing to do these two committees. That’s interesting; neither of those committees needs someone from your division, and we said so on the form. And don’t you receive something like a two-or three-course reduction for directing a center? If you’re a center director, you are relatively senior; if you don’t serve, the burden falls either on early-career faculty who should be working toward tenure, or on other relatively senior faculty, most of whom have multiple responsibilities already.
I serve as advisor for the ACM  program in X. Okay, I think that means you meet with about a dozen students each year, and participate in a few meetings. What is that compared to regular committee service at Grinnell? Nothing!
I don’t mean to say that there aren’t faculty who are clearly doing so much non-FOC work that they shouldn’t have more. I think, for example, of whoever ends up running
Writers at Grinnell each year, or who has to manage CERA, both of which strike me as significant tasks with no compensation other than a sense of a job well done. It’s the insignificant and already-compensated tasks that get to me, as well as the ones that the administration adds without consulting FOC.
Okay, I’ve ranted. I feel better. Let’s summarize. Early-career faculty: Be judicious in your selection of committee work. Mid- and late-career faculty: The College needs your help in governance. You don’t have to play a significant role every year, but you should play some role every year, and a significant role in a reasonable percentage of years.
In this context, I must also say that I really appreciated the third of Robinson’s questions for each table, since it reminds us that we do have broader institutional responsibilities.
- What pots do you have to fill?
- What pots can you take away while maintaining your goals?
- What institutional gaps would that leave?
As I mentioned during the session , I find Robinson’s
think of a bunch of pots that you have to fill some time in every two-month period problematic. My kids and my wife are not something that I can think about in a two-month time frame. In general, they need some of my attention every day. Preferably, they get a lot of my attention every day. My classes need attention every day, or every few days, depending on what my teaching schedule is like.
When I raised the issue of family, Robinson did suggest that doing some satisficing with family might be acceptable if you have a large chunk of time, such as a vacation, in which you build bonds. Our families are likely different, but I’ll say that I think my kids would prefer that I give them more attention each day (including, say, playing games, editing papers, or even watching TV together), and regular attendance at their events, than they would a big family vacation.
I also have trouble with the metaphor because too many things demand your time when they demand it. Kids get sick and need care now. (As they get older, kids have problems that need help now, whether it be with homework or relationships or whatever.) Students have crises, way too regularly. What am I supposed to say to the student who says
My best friend is suicidal. What should I do? I don’t say
I’m sorry, but my emotional support for students pot is full or
I wasn’t planning to fill my emotional support pot until later this month. I address the issue now. Now, it may be that my life is different than other faculty members (although I don’t think so), but it feels like I have multiple family and student issues each week.
I also think that many things do better with regular contributions, rather than occasional. In the discussion, Hansen suggested that she makes sure to do at least N minutes of writing each week. To me, that seems appropriate. She’ll need a big chunk of time to finish any project, but she’ll be in much better shape to do so because she’s made regular progress, and she’ll feel better about it all along.
Robinson suggested that I come up with a better metaphor. How’s this: Our responsibilities are like plants. Some need watering daily. Some need watering weekly. Some need large amounts of water, but only every few months (or can get by with an autofeeder). But plants also have crises: Sometimes you have to stave off an aphid invasion, or dry rot, or whatever. You have a limited amount of water, and a limited amount of time and resources to handle crises. Deal. No, I don’t like that metaphor.
But, you know what, I don’t have trouble with the term
work/life balance. I agree the
life are not good terms.
personal are better terms, although they should appear in the other order, since the personal should take priority. What about
balance? I read
balance more as
harmony, the trade-off between Yin and Yang. Each aspect has appropriate support, and contributes appropriately. And, as I suggested earlier, I think of the balance as being between multiple things that fall within each of personal and professional.
Am I done reacting? No, not yet. Let’s also consider that grid, which you may recall had two axes: One for importance, and one for urgency. I’d say that when I think about tasks, I’d add at least three more dimensions: enjoyability, necessity, and incentives. Some things are more fun than others, and we should give ourselves the opportunity to do fun things, or at least consider how fun they are. We get a variety of incentives for doing tasks (money, reputation, promotion), and that may lead us to prioritize them differently. And some things feel like they are neither enjoyable, nor important (at least for ourselves), nor incentivized, nor urgent, but are nonetheless necessary.
As department chair, I feel like I deal with way too many of
only necessary tasks. Here are two examples from the past year: I had to write a statement on how the department would contribute to the department’s
Global Grinnell initiative and I had to write a description of our writing outcomes and how we would assess those writing outcomes. I realize those are important to some people, but they aren’t particularly important to me . Since they aren’t important, they aren’t particularly fun. There was no particular deadline, so they arguably weren’t urgent. There were no incentives for completing them. There weren’t even anti-incentives for not completing them . But I’m a good citizen, and so I treated them as necessary. We discussed each issue at multiple department meetings. For the case of the writing outcomes, we reviewed our professional societies’ thousand-or so learning outcomes for an undergraduate education in computer science. We wrote and reviewed the statements.
Was there a point to that example? It’s mostly to show that there are additional things that influence what work we do, or have to do.
In this section, I’ve been relatively critical as I reacted to Robinson’s suggestions. I don’t mean to say that I don’t think her perspective is useful; in fact, I think many people found what she said useful. Rather, I’m trying to say that it does not necessary reflect my personal situation.
Robinson’s pot metaphor reminded me of a presentation at an early-career workshop I attended back when I was early in my career. (If I recall correctly, it was run by CRA, the Computing Research Association, and was held at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.) I think I’ve reported on it before, but it seems useful to report on it again. At some point, they put a large jar on the podium. First, they filled it with some large rocks. They asked us
Is it full? Most of us said
Yes. So then they added a bunch of pebbles. Once again, they asked us
Is it full? And again, most of us said
Yes. So they added a bunch of sand, tapped it a few times, and added some more. Can you guess what they asked? Yes, the asked
Is it full? By this point, most of us shrugged our shoulders and said to ourselves
I’d think so, but you’ve suggested otherwise.
Finally, they took out a beaker of water and poured it in.
Then they asked us for the moral.
I’m pretty sure that I volunteered an answer :
There’s never so much work you have that you can’t add some more. These days, I’d probably say
There’s never so much work you have that an administrator won’t find a way to add more.
Turns out, I was wrong. They wanted us to realize that if you don’t put the big tasks in first, they’ll never fit. But if they wanted us to figure that out, they should have poured in the sand first..
While I admit that I am stressed about my personal/professional balance, and my workload in general, I found many things to celebrate in the presentations. The most obvious is that I got to hear from four thoughtful colleagues who we are fortunate to have at Grinnell. But there’s also something that I consider as important. And, once again, it probably requires a story .
When I first arrived at Grinnell, I came as a
single parent with a two-year-old son. Michelle was finishing her residency, and we believed that my life was likely to be more coherent than hers ; after all, I didn’t have call, and she did. I also had access to a wide variety of students, which meant that sitters should have been easy to find .
Like most single parents, there were times I had to bring my son to work. What happens when a male faculty member brings a child to work? In general, they are praised for being a good father and a good role model.
Leslie Gregg-Jolly also had a two-year old. And, like me, sometimes she had to bring her two-year old to work. What happened when she brought her child to work? She heard rumblings that she wasn’t taking her job seriously.
As you might expect, we talked about the disparity of reactions, and tried to think about ways to address them. I don’t think we ever came up with anything substantial, other than that we should speak out about the issue so that people realized what they were doing.
Given that history, I was absolutely thrilled to hear Hinsa-Leasure say that she got positive feedback when she brought her kids to work, with people saying that she was a good role model. And it’s true: When we bring our kids to work, we show that family is valuable, that it is possible to balance family and work, and that sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Those are all important lessons.
I am now about 6,000 words into what was supposed to be a 2,000-word essay. When I started out, I planned to write a bit about my own experiences, both successful and less successful, with balancing the personal and professional. But I’ve been writing for much longer than I planned. I also can’t remember what I planned to write. So I’m going to keep this section short. Maybe I’ll write a followup someday.
As I reflect back on my career , I note that I have not done as good a job as I would have liked to balance the personal and professional, or to balance my many responsibilities. That’s one of the reasons I made the list of recommended practices for early-career faculty above. I’ll try to adopt more of them myself.
I’ll also note that in recent years, as department chair of a rapidly growing  and changing  department, I’ve spent a lot of time working on department issues and supporting students and colleagues. That’s meant that I’ve had to do more satisficing than I would like. In particular, it feels like I had to satisfice in my classes. Since my primary vocation is teacher, that was frustrating, really frustrating. Dealing with too many initiatives (see above) didn’t help. Hearing the comparatively small amount the College thinks a Chair’s course release is worth helped even less .
In the end, I will note that I feel incredibly fortunate to have the job I do. While I sometimes have trouble balancing the personal and the professional, I get to do something that I enjoy, that is intellectually stimulating, and that makes a difference in people’s lives. I get compensated comparatively well . I have a lot of control of my own time, and can choose how to prioritize; I just wish I did a better job. Perhaps most importantly, because I can control my own time, I’ve been able to go to many of my children’s events at school during the day, whether it’s reading to the class, or watching a play, or meeting with teachers, or even running the MathCounts team for a few years. Few jobs give you that much freedom.
We should strive to put our personal and professional lives in harmony. Different people find different approaches for doing so. I’d recommend that you prioritize the personal. To help find harmony, you should adapt a variety of practices, some of which I mention in this essay. In spite of our wide variety of responsibilities, or perhaps because of that wide variety of responsibilities, we are fortunate to have the careers we do.
Two more things: 1. If you do set up workload metaphors, make sure that they make sense: put the items in the jar in the right order, avoid using plants. 2. Don’t write long-winded essays about work/life balance.
 Georgeanna is also attached to Dave Robinson (or Dave is attached to Georgeanna). She is also an awesomely talented singer who is in both the Oratorio Society and Collegium. I’m not sure whether these issues are relevant, but they may be.
 Yes, I know that
ECF faculty is redundant, since
ECF stands for
early career faculty. Nonetheless,
ECF faculty feels much better than
EC faculty or
 Arguably, I will have reflected about my own experiences throughout the essay. But I’ll also have some further reflections at the end.
 You may recall that I was preparing classes. I likely missed or misinterpreted many things she said.
 I might phrase that as
Figure out when you can have a smaller pot.
 It is likely important to the person who asked you to fill out the form. It just may not be that important to you.
 Remember; I was also preparing two classes. I am likely to have misremembered and misinterpreted.
 Okay, family is more important than tenure. But your family will likely appreciate it that you have a profession.
 I hope that other institutions also expect departments to work collaboratively. I’ve been at Grinnell long enough that I feel I can only speak to Grinnell.
 You probably do, too.
 Now that we have so many categories of responsibilities, you can discard the two-sided scale as your notion of balance.
 Or people who have power over you.
 Frequently, we were the ones doing things for other people, or at least for our advisor.
 Yes, it may seem strange, but some
dump work upwards is reasonable for pre-tenure faculty. However, not all more senior faculty understand this issue, so be careful to whom and how you do so.
 Don’t worry! I usually do a four-criterion fair-use analysis before photocopying from books.
 And toner-wasting!
 Scholarly Women at Grinnell.
Almost every member means
all of my junior colleagues, butnot me".
 I guard kid time much more than I guard research time.
 Pain in the neck.
 I realize that many students are told not to use Wikipedia as a reference source. Nonetheless, I think it does a reasonably good job of providing information on a wide variety of (non controversial) issues.
 I like the recursion in that definition.
 How’s that for a double negative?
 More precisely, at the beginning of the next week.
 For example, I thought this essay would require under 2000 words and I could finish it in about ninety minutes. I’m about halfway through the essay, and I’m already at 4000 words and over two hours.
 Akin to dysgraphic or dyslexic.
 Well, typed.
 I’m particularly fond of
Union Maid and
 Associated Colleges of the Midwest, not Association for Computing Machinery.
 Yes, there’s a reason that I’m identified as a curmudgeon.
 My normal comment to myself when I’m asked to do things like this is to say:
Okay, tell me how this department is contributing to our students’ abilities to think quantitatively or computationally, both of which have been identified by our government  as prerequisites for successful citizenship.
 During the Obama administration, and perhaps during prior administrations, too.
 As an example of the latter, note that faculty do not get full-year sabbaticals unless the department has a plan for how it will participate in the
Research Opportunities for All initiative.
 While I am shy and withdrawn in social situations, I tend not to be in professional situations.
 Jerome Brunner says some valuable things about the role of stories in helping people learn. I should probably revisit his work so that I can provide more detailed and more accurate citations than this note provides.
 It didn’t help that the nanny we and another couple had hired had disappeared with the kids for the better part of a day.
 There was, for better or for worse, one sitter who thought it was a good idea to attend Alice before coming over to sit.
 No, that is not the
now that it’s the end of my career kind of reflection; it’s reflection midway through my career.
 We’ve tripled our number of majors in the past two years.
 Next year, we will have at least four newish faculty members and two newish staff member we did not have three years ago.
 I realize that the amount is kept small (a) to discourage Chairs from giving up their release and (b) because we can’t make the budget work otherwise. Nonetheless, I find the amount the come up with insulting.
Comparatively well is, of course, context dependent. I make more than most people in our community, our country, and our world. I make significantly less than many people in my industry.
Version 1.0.1 released 2017-01-28.
Version 1.0.2 of 2018-03-28.