What I Do With My Time

July 12, 2011 | Blog

The Chronicle of Higher Education is running a story about faculty productivity, questioning the idea that professors aren’t earning their salaries by contributing substantially to their students’ education. It’s accompanied by the schedules of a few faculty at UTexas. I’ve looked over those schedules, and was struck: none of them even begin to resemble mine. Most don’t start til 8 am, and often end by 4 or 5. Most are on two or three committees at most. And most have few grants and few research assistants.

So I figured, why not lay it all out there? Here are my statistics– you go right ahead and calculate my “value-added.”

What the university’s numbers show (’10-11 academic year):

Total course sections taught: 2 (the other 2 were ‘bought out’ with a William T Grant Scholars award)

Total class enrollment: 12 graduate students

Research grants: $1.6 million

Annual salary: $72,000 (9 months)


What the numbers don’t show:

(1) Independent studies — During this past year I did independent studies with 6 graduate students. These don’t show up as formal teaching.

(2) Teaching — I used grant money to facilitate additional resources for my class, including paying for guest speakers from other universities and the cost of licensing software they needed

(3) Advising — I chaired 4 doctoral committees and 4 master’s committees, and served on 4 other committees. I also served as a McNair mentor for an undergraduate student.

(4) Committee work — I chaired a university-wide committee, served on the steering committee of PROFS, and served on 2 school-wide and 1 department committee.

(5) Research — I ran a project that funded two full-time staff and 3 postdoctoral fellows and involved at least 10 graduate students and 5 undergraduates at any one time. I met frequently with most of them and monthly with all. In addition, during this past year I published 3 peer-reviewed articles, 2 book chapters, and 2 reports, and initiated 9 new working papers (nearly all co-authored with graduate students).

(6) State service– During my “summer vacation” in 2010 I served on the Wisconsin Legislature’s Special Committee on the Reform of Higher Education Programs and at year’s end I hosted a statewide conference for 150 participants on “Affordability and Attainment in Wisconsin Public Higher Education.”

(7) National service- I gave more than a dozen talks around the country (ranging from LA to Seattle to NY), served on two standing panels for the U.S. Department of Education and on 3 editorial boards of journals as well as a granting board of a foundation, and participated in higher education policy working groups at several DC think tanks. Thus far in 2011 alone, I have logged 48,000 miles on Delta.

(8) Public engagement — In addition to this blog, I maintain an active Twitter presence where I comment regularly on issues related to higher education policy at the campus, state, and national levels.

Here’s what my schedule looks like:

Monday-Friday: Up by 7 am, checking email for 15-20 minutes before starting commute at 745 am. Usually on a call or two en route to work. In the office in non-stop meetings and teaching from 830 am til 430 pm, rarely taking a break for lunch (ask my students- I hardly ever get to eat). Commute home, spend time with kids and have dinner. Back to work by 8 pm, working until 11 pm.

Saturday/Sunday: An hour of email each morning, 3-5 hours each afternoon, plus 2-3 hours each evening.

In the last year I estimate I worked 67-80 hours/week, and this represented a decline of about 5 hours/week from the prior year. I took no more than a total of a week’s vacation.

Did I mention my wonderful husband and children (ages 1 and 4)? Wouldn’t be possible without them.

Yes, I earned tenure this spring. And no, I don’t expect my workload to decline much if at all.

So, whatever you think of me personally or politically– am I productive?

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Jason Pickart

    July 14, 2011

    Definitely, I'm surprised you find the team to blog like you do!


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