Day: June 14, 2016

Summer Defenses

It’s summer, and work focus has shifted from teaching to close interactions with graduate students, writing and editing of papers, and early proposal drafts.

Also, this summer I have made a solemn vow that I will in fact have a couple of weeks of no work whatsoever, when I just veg out and watch movies and read and walk and maybe kick and punch a heavy bag a little bit. There will be some short trips on account of a member of extended family visiting, but other than that it will be mostly work.

Summer is also a time when some students wrap up their studies, defend dissertations, and go on to the next stage of their lives. Usually, they have a job lined up and a start date that should be met.

I understand that students need to defend and move on, so if I am in town and available, I really try to make the time and be on the PhD defense committee when asked.

But it seems some people overestimate the willingness of professors to do service in the summer (we don’t have summer salaries from the university, all summer time should be research time). This time around, I have been getting irritated with one student who’s been trying to schedule a defense of a thesis prospectus (thus not something that has to happen in the summer) for months now. It finally got settled several weeks ago, but now the student’s at it again because of some glitch or someone bailing.

Can there please be a limit on the number of emails that a student is allowed to send in regards to a single meeting? And the number of times an event can get rescheduled? I feel for the student, I know scheduling anything in the summer is hard with everyone traveling, but the kid is really bothering me with the barrage of emails (alas, there is a good reason for which I cannot just remove myself from the committee).

Students and advisors, please don’t schedule anything that is not time-sensitive in the summer. And please try to limit the number of emails. Students, if I send you my availability in a broad range, work with it and with the information from others — quickly and quietly! — until you find a time that works, and then send confirmation. I don’t need multiple weekly emails, for months on end, detailing the fascinating process.