Usually it's my students who drive me to drink (and to paraphrase W.C. Fields, I'm eternally indebted to them for that). But recently it's been the administration.
We professors are typically evaluated on a combination of research, teaching, and service. Research and teaching are self-explanatory. Service is generally defined as contributing time and effort to the students, the university, and the community - things like advising or mentoring students, serving on various university committees and boards, and participating in the community at large (coaching Little League, volunteering for charitable activities, and so forth).
While it varies from school to school, research activities usually account for 40 to 50 per cent of our total evaluation, teaching around 30 to 40 per cent, and service about 20 per cent. However, lately I've been spending more time on university service activities -- especially committee meetings -- than research and teaching combined. Our administration seems to consider the faculty as indentured servants with unlimited time and energy.
I won't bore you with the details. Imagine the worst, least effective, most bureaucratic-bound committee you've ever experienced. Now populate that committee with a collection of individuals with oversized egos, undersized people skills, and a total lack of common sense and understanding of how things get done (in other words, typical liberals). Double that and you've got a faint approximation of what I've been suffering through lately.
One of the committees I serve on is charged with assessing various research proposals and determining whether or not to fund them, and if so, to what extent. We've got a budget of a few million dollars, but like most organizations there's more demand than there is supply. So we go through a fairly rigorous process in deciding who gets what. While it can be interesting at times, it's usually a tedious, painstaking process.
So I got pretty excited when the following proposal came across my desk: "Female Mating Decisions Based on Male Performance." It sounded like something that was right up my alley, so to speak. Like most men, I consider myself exceptionally well qualified to opine on this topic.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when I found out the study is based on African cichlids (a type of fish).
Roll Dem Bones.
22 hours ago