Beki Grinter

Summer Service part 2

In academia, academic management, discipline, research on May 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Recently I wrote a post about summer service. I said a number of things but I’ve been reflecting on a portion of the post…

I’m blocking all of June and July. I have no availability during these months. Note that that’s just two months, not the full three. And I am also not sure what I will do about students who want to defend or propose. I know people who will not participate over the summer because of this lack of compensation. That seems too extreme to me. But I’m also not making those months available for scheduling yet, because what I do already know that I like about this model is that I have the opportunity to plan some extended travel to go work with colleagues elsewhere.

It actually turns out that one of the reasons I have to block this is because I am trying to schedule some travel, and that’s going more slowly than I thought. And I should likely have phrased this that I want these months to be available to me for my research and for collaborations that I cannot have during the school year because I am required to be here. I miss the days of my PhD (and to an extent Industrial Research) where I had opportunities to plan travel to visit people. The rhythms of classes and service during the academic year make that hard and unfair to students and colleagues. After two industrial jobs and a PhD was surprised and unused to the structuring rhythms of the academic year, so the summer reminds me of those times when I was free to organize my schedule as I chose.

I’ve also learned through responses to this message that some departments have a uniform policy that students cannot graduate during the summer, or are strongly discouraged from doing so, in order to make a space for faculty to be able to leave and do work. We don’t have that at Georgia Tech and perhaps that’s why there are more perspectives on what purpose the summer has.

  1. Are you paid for 12 months at Georgia Tech or do you have to find grants to cover summer? If the later (like most places), then I’d think that the university cannot count on you being on defenses, etc. in the summer. That makes no sense to expect you to be there when they are not paying you.

    • I’m a nine month employee and yes, grants cover my summer. But apparently am expected to do service, which also does not count against academic year load. We don’t have a policy about thesis defenses/proposals so I think we’ve evolved a culture where that’s considered fair. I think we’d need to change the culture with plenty of time for the students to know…

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