In my experience the decorous things to say are that teaching is fun, writing is work, publishing is difficult, service is boring, and administration is oppressive.
I was always warned to say I was not interested in teaching, because women who taught would never be taken seriously as researchers. In my actual experience it is far more politic to say one “loves” teaching — or even that one is honored to receive pay for services one would gladly volunteer if the university were to request it.
My own, alternative, heretical mottos are that teaching is work, writing is fun, publishing is likely, service is interesting and administration is creative. These last two heresies — that service is interesting and administration, creative — I have not pronounced before, and I fully expect complaints.
Some of what I learned about service and administration, I learned at job I took when I was a smaller stela than I am now. This was when I still wanted to believe in the advice to new faculty of Gayprof, but thought I at least should be able to follow the advice of Dr. Crazy. What I discovered in my subunit, though, was a chaos greater than I could have imagined or believed possible — although I was now a fairly experienced person — and a great deal of desperation. I had planned to teach my classes, smile, wave, and head out to the library down the road, but this was not so easy.
If I had been a new stela I would have gone on the market instantly, but I had reason not to do it. I could and perhaps should have pushed off into industry, but I had not yet figured out how to do so in that geographical area, and I had also decided to move there based on the decision to continue as an academic. For these two reasons, then, I did not jump.
The professor who had been there the longest at that point called a summit meeting to discuss our collective depressive crisis. We were getting nothing done during any day beyond emergency triage. Although we knew we should ignore local problems and concentrate on our own work, decades of inattention to local problems meant they now refused to be ignored. They bit us sharply every day, and our megaunit clearly expected us to deal with them. At night I dreamed of going to work and finding that classes had been cancelled so all available hands could go hold their fingers in dikes. Could we create a system that would permit us to manage things more efficiently? That was the question addressed in the meeting.
We decided that since issues with infrastructure were effectively preventing us from teaching, reading, writing, and publishing, we would have to confront these issues directly — even though most of us were still assistant stelae. I was the only one with a counterproposal. I suggested we let the major and the graduate program die the deaths that had clearly been clearly foretold for them, strengthen and broaden course offerings at intermediate levels, and expand the minors. That way we could organize the chaos and sail off to write our own books rather than, say, institutional grants or proposals for the revision of programs at high levels. Yes, it would mean we could not say we had a thriving major or a graduate program — but realistically, did we have those things now except in name?
My proposal was defeated resoundingly. I joined the majority and we did a great deal of work — work it was an unorthodox choice to do, but which we had voted necessary since our situation was so unorthodox. Since this was the majority will in a small subunit, I felt I had no option.
I had thought I could do what I call “walk like a Brazilian” (expect no good infrastructure, do the best you can, do not expect wonders, be genuine, but keep your eye on your research program and realize you will just have to watch a lot else fall through the cracks). But the job was exceptionally draining, and it was so in part due to the depression of the faculty and students who had been dealing with the situation for some time. So it seemed we could either continue to languish, or put in some work at the front end so as not to have so much blood let in the first place. And I think we could only have walked like Brazilians had we been better funded personally, and in better situations professionally — and the reason we were where we were in the first place was that we did not have these advantages.
So we made a decision and acted upon it.
Professor Zero asks with a wicked laugh: how do you think that worked for us? Hint: program building is seductive. We learned a great deal and it was interesting. Our creativity was engaged. We grew professionally because of it, and I do not know that there was any other work we could have undertaken at the time. Still: program building is seductive, whereas publications last longer than bronze.