Posts Tagged ‘Academia’

Education disadvantage

January 21, 2012

If a cash-strapped province or state had to make painful cuts to public services, the immediately noticeable effect would be the outright elimination of some of them.
One would not think of, say, laying off a fraction of all bus drivers and asking the remaining ones to work longer hours, in order to keep all existing bus routes active — some would be phased out, based on various considerations of priority, in order to minimize the inconvenience to denizens, while continuing to offer as much of the original transportation as possible. Some people, however, would have to go to work or to the grocery store in some other, less convenient or more expensive way.


Double whammy

January 16, 2012

We all understand that, sometimes, financial hardship is simply a fact of life. And I do believe that most of us are willing to endure painful sacrifices, in the pursuit of a common good.
What exasperates people, is the perception of a general lack of vision, of a concrete, well thought out crisis management plan, on the part of those in charge of overseeing operations. Particularly disconcerting is a reassuring public rhetoric, filled with generic statements of understanding of the gravity of the situation, and of resolve to ensure that the period of scarcity be weathered with minimal suffering and no permanent damage, and a concomitant pattern of actions suggesting all but the opposite.


On the road again

December 23, 2011

A long and tiring term is coming to a close. Time to celebrate the holidays, then head out to Vancouver for a few days, to end 2011, and then it will be a new year and a new term. The Winter term of 2012 is also going to be very intense, but for different reasons — I have quite a bit of traveling ahead of me. Indeed, it looks as if I shall be in Europe (Germany and Italy) until Summer.



December 15, 2011

Imagine the following, hypothetical situation: the owner of a small high-tech company needs all of his employees retrained, in view of the adoption of a new, company-wide software system.
He decides to send a few of them to a week-long course with a private firm, specialized in offering short courses on the particular software that will be acquired. A firm representative promised him that at the end of the course, these employees will be proficient with the new system, capable of operating and managing it, and able in turn to train other colleagues. That way, the company will be up to speed in little time.


The boss is out to lunch

November 18, 2011

The two basic criteria to establish whether someone is your boss are:
— Can they fire you ?
— Can they give you a raise ?
Unless the answer to both questions is yes, then they are not your boss.

(can’t recall who said that to me… my dad, maybe ? Nah, it’s impossible, that would make him right…)


Must be me…

October 31, 2011

The Globe and Mail has a story about an “experiment” (I use quote-unquote because I personally see nothing new about it, but I come back to this below) carried out by a college teacher who has broken down her 200-student class into small groups, to work through their latest assignment.


Sliding into Fall

September 17, 2011

Oops, it did it again…. The Fall term 2011 has managed to sneak up on me, like its 2010 predecessor. All of a sudden, it’s all back. I am facing a crowd of 400+ students, teaching the same introductory physics class I taught last year, in the same humongous, with its microphone, its two big screens and no white board.


Impact factor trends

July 15, 2011

A few days ago, I received an e-mail message from the Publisher of my favourite physics journal (JLTP), who was pleased to inform me that its Impact Factor (IF) climbed in 2010 to 1.403, seemingly a significant improvement from the 2009 value of 1.074. Obviously, being not only a reader and a contributor, but also a member of the editorial board of JLTP, I was delighted to hear the good news.
As I have expounded already on this blog, I regard raising its IF as crucial, if the JLTP is to retain not just its prestige, but even its long term viability as a scientific publication venue, given the emphasis placed on IF by university administrators, and generally by those individuals who are tasked with reviewing the performance of academic scholars.


Free agent professor

June 13, 2011

If you’re a college or university teacher, whom do you work for ?”
Thus begins Stanley Fish‘s latest New York Times editorial on the subject of academia. Here are a few excerpts:
Academics […] want […] to work in an organization and enjoy its benefits and at the same time be their own bosses.”


Make up your mind, already !

April 14, 2011

Academic job seekers are sometimes in the fortunate position of choosing one of several job offers (not often these days, given the difficult job market). This happens both at the postdoctoral, as well as the faculty level. The reason is simple; someone needing a job will send out as many applications as possible, and it is not inconceivable that more than one employer may be interested in hiring the same person (paradoxically, this seems to be happening more so at times of tight job market, for reasons that continue to befuddle me).
Anyway, I hear a lot of opinions regarding the proper “etiquette” that an applicant should observe, when in the enviable situation of entertaining several offers (either actual or expected). Some of them are sensible, others… not so much. So, I thought I would give my two cents worth.