do faculty do anything during the summer?

Nate asked me to contribute something from a faculty perspective.  I usually think of blogging as a great alternative to working, but since it is La Follette-related, I am making an exception in this case.

When I was a masters student I was only dimly aware of what our faculty actually did.  Sure, they appeared before us for a few hours each week, but what about the rest of the time?  As a faculty, I frequently encounter the same confusion from students, family members, and random members of the public.  This gap between perception and reality reaches its apex during the summer months, when I am consistently told about how great it must be to have three months off.  Yes indeed, it would be great.  But while I would love to say that I spend my summers visiting exotic locations, and sipping mojitos as I dawdle in my hammock, the reality is a bit different.

Yesterday, in my role as incoming Associate Director I had a meeting about how we prepare incoming students for the quantitative demands of first semester classes.  Then, as co-editor of a journal I made a decision on what to do with a manuscript that had been reviewed by three other scholars.  This involved reading the reviews and the manuscript, and writing a decision letter to the academic in question.  After that I worked on finishing a draft of one of my own papers to a journal.  I have been working on this paper since last summer, and even if the review process goes well, it is likely to be at least two years until it is published (keep that in mind if I ever hassle you about the importance of deadlines).  Finally, I read another paper that a group of scholars had asked me to look at, and offered some detailed comments that probably annoyed a group of people I quite like.

All in all, this was a pretty productive day, and a typical one for the summer.  No teaching, but there is a mixture of administrative duties to the university, service to the broader field, and trying to get my own research done.

Don’t get me wrong.  Being an academic is a great job.  I can’t imagine doing anything else I would enjoy nearly as much.  But like most other jobs, it trundles on throughout the year, even through these balmy days of summer.

Don Moynihan, Associate Director

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