World of the university dean: the smaller the irritation the thinner the skin

Come into my office – someone using your coffee machine is a serious business …

Like many, I became an academic because I wanted to combine the freedom of a beatnik poet with the job security and pension of a 1950s civil servant. Academic contentment generally correlates with self-assessment on these two parameters.

But while I’m in fantasy land, let me lay out the other elements of academic nirvana. You are surrounded by just the right number of adoring, talented students, who nevertheless know how to respect your time and space. Whenever you open a journal it is full of tributes to the depth, originality and practical relevance of your research. You receive regular invitations to give keynote addresses at universities located in Unesco world heritage sites. Over your feeble protests, your hosts insist on booking you business-class flights, and treat you like minor royalty. You attend just one departmental meeting a term, and your suggestions are greeted with acclaim and instantly implemented. And you receive frequent, eye-watering, pay rises without even having to ask.

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Come into my office – someone using your coffee machine is a serious business …

Like many, I became an academic because I wanted to combine the freedom of a beatnik poet with the job security and pension of a 1950s civil servant. Academic contentment generally correlates with self-assessment on these two parameters.

But while I’m in fantasy land, let me lay out the other elements of academic nirvana. You are surrounded by just the right number of adoring, talented students, who nevertheless know how to respect your time and space. Whenever you open a journal it is full of tributes to the depth, originality and practical relevance of your research. You receive regular invitations to give keynote addresses at universities located in Unesco world heritage sites. Over your feeble protests, your hosts insist on booking you business-class flights, and treat you like minor royalty. You attend just one departmental meeting a term, and your suggestions are greeted with acclaim and instantly implemented. And you receive frequent, eye-watering, pay rises without even having to ask.

 

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