Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Constructing my dream department

Sometimes, when I've had a particularly rough or trying day (like today), I fantasize about my ideal, dream department. Here's a snapshot of what that department would look like:

* More than one woman on the faculty (duh).

* Statements that imply that opening up the major/our classes is equivalent to "dumbing down the major" would be completely banned. Offenders would be drop-kicked out the nearest window.

* Disagreement would not be feared and avoided, but rather seen as an opportunity for discussion and growth.

* Creative, "big picture" thinking would be embraced, not ridiculed.

* Colleagues would not make themselves feel better by repeatedly putting down others.

* Gratuitous one-upmanship (uppersonship?) would be banned. (Hmm, this seems somewhat related to the point above.)

* Senior faculty would be good models for junior faculty, or at least provide explicit guidelines for junior faculty, in terms of balance, service, research, and/or teaching.

* Good, effective mentoring of junior faculty, and more frank discussions between junior and senior faculty about our concerns, our struggles, and our workloads.

* And last but not least, I would possess a big clue stick and have free reign to use it as necessary on my colleagues. :)

What's on your "dream department" wish list?


New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oy. It must have been a bad day! That does sound like a good department, and a lot of it shouldn't have to be a dream! I like the cluestick idea, but thankfully, I wouldn't need one too much with my department. However, I would LOVE for the assessment of whether a faculty person is an effective colleague/mentor to be divorced from that faculty person's gender...

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

I like this list. May I add...

* A family leave policy for graduate students that doesn't involve the phrase "It's up to your advisor."

* The elimination of memoryless professors who react only to what's in front of them. Comments should not be in the binary form "You are a not good enough to be a PhD candidate" or "You are the best researcher evah."

* Graduate students who own up to their responsibilities and act like assertive adults, rather than piglet-like, icon worshipers of their advisors.

* The elimination of professors who answer four cell-phone calls during a scheduled meeting.

Jane said...

Wow, I like these additions to the list! New Kid, I totally agree w/ the gender/effectiveness point, and it irks me to no end when I see this happening. FCSGS, your grad school sounds an awful lot like mine--and that professor with the cell phone problem should definitely be drop-kicked out the nearest window! :)

You know, the sad thing about this list is that it can easily be summarized as such: Be nice to others. Treat others humanely. What is wrong with this profession that we can't even do that consistently?! Yeesh.

Mathias K said...

Well since we are developing a fantasy department:

* Co-workers who are interested in each others research & writing

* Preventing senior faculty from running the department as a personal fiefdom

Jane said...

Mathias--very true on both counts! And interested should mean "really and honestly" interested. Not superficially interested. Not using the question "how's your research going" as a springboard for a bizarre round of one-upmanship.

Anonymous said...

I am also very concerned about the future of CS and related fields. We are also going through "rationalization" and, while we made it through the first round, we are actually planning to drop our own CIS program (hoping CS will survive)

Jane said...

yikes, anon! Keeping my fingers crossed that CS doesn't get the axe...

Zuska said...

Hi Jane! It feels like forever since I've said hello.

I was just talking today with a friend about writing a science fiction novel wherein all the fabulous women science and engineering professors go off to Wonderful University in Pleasant City and do collaborative research with each other in friendly departments. Well, of course that would be science fiction. Sigh. Go here http://radio.weblogs.com/0147021/2006/07/19.html#a153 and read the last paragraph for my Biblical vision of this.

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