Any one who is, used to be or knows someone who is an academic knows we spend endless hours in meetings. We have department meetings, college and university committee meetings, ad hoc committee meetings, meetings with students and colleagues and administrators, meeting with potential students and potential colleagues, conference meetings, conference committee meetings, well, you get the picture, right? In fact, if we want to have time during our day to do something other than teach a class or attend a meeting, we need schedule time to do so and mark that time as “busy” on our calendars or someone will find out we have 15 “free” minutes and schedule a damn meeting.
Now, sometimes I go into a meeting knowing it’s going to be awful; the thing we have to discuss or do is unpleasant, or the people in attendance are less than pleasant people, or the whole thing is pro-forma. But I went into this meeting thinking it would be time well-spent. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This was one of those meetings that happen when there’s a new mucky muck or someone new takes on one of the mucky muck administrative roles. As a way to show s/he isn’t like the mucky muck before him or her and really cares about faculty, s/he makes the rounds, meeting with faculty to lend an ear.
I’ve learned to go into these meetings with a semblance of hope while also keeping my expectations low; this time, however, I didn’t keep them low enough: I actually thought we’d have a conversation with the mucky muck. I expected to get platitudes and adminspeak, but I thought those would come in response to inquiries from my colleagues.
I was so wrong. One question opened the door for a 48 minute lecture/story, the point of which was “I’m a scientist, but I value the humanities; you all are lucky to have jobs because you have no idea how to demonstrate the value of what you do; I know how to do that, and I’ve been doing that for you because you are to lame to do so one your own.” Then, “Oh, we’re out of time? Sorry. I really did want to hear from you. Perhaps some other time?”
I wonder why I am reminded of a Monty Python skit?