Monday, July 7, 2014

Academaniac helps the no0b

To our new hire:

We are happy to have you on board, but please take into account the following:

1. We have all qualified for our jobs, and we are all talented and bright (or so I hope). You are
not special. At least you are no more special than anyone else. So take your arrogance down a notch, and realize you are part of an accomplished team. We'll support you, and we hope you will support us.

2. The rules apply to all of us. Not just us, but YOU too. So don't don't seem so surprised when I point this out.

3. We all have writing responsibilities for the department. This means we submit drafts for other faculty to read and offer comments. The key concept here is we should be reading for content and the occasional typo. But we should not have to correct basic grammar. Please get help. No one would criticize you for doing so. We would, in fact, applaud you for working to improve your skills.

4. You are cool. I get that. You can teach all the cool stuff and be popular with students. But please don't overlook covering foundational skills. The trendy stuff is cool, but should be built upon a solid foundation. Hopefully students will carry this with them into the workplace, and be able to change with technology, explore new trends, and build an understanding of why things work (or don't work).

5. You are tenure track. Of course you can speak your mind. Of course you can disagree with any of us. But do so respectfully, and acknowledge the input of your colleagues. They will respect you for this. And remember that there will come a time when you just might want a recommendation from one of your colleagues - for tenure, a job application, etc. Life is too short to burn bridges.

There's more, but that covers the basics.


  1. Is the departmental writing feedback on publications? or service stuff like curriculum and manuals? If it's department-wide publication feedback, that sounds like a great place to work.

  2. I, too, think I'd like working for your department (well, as long as the noob is an exception).

  3. We had a noob like this when I was Chair of the physics department. He wasn't as bad after I convinced him that a cattle prod doesn't hurt as much as a branding iron. He still didn't get tenure, either, since he didn't write or publish a thing, despite having sky-high student evaluations since all he ever did in class was show movies and sit in a circle and sing "Kumbaya."