Sunday, 25 September 2011

Second Home

Not long ago, I was talking about University Stuff with a cousin-in-law who has a computer tech job at the same university at which I am employed. He was talking about how much happier he is now that he doesn't have to work in Remote Isolated Building and is instead more centrally located on the campus. In fact, he is hoping to get transferred soon to Totally Central Building, even if it means working in a basement.

Last week in this blog, I discussed the importance of location in the context of where we live relative to our campus jobs, but the location of the campus building in which we spend most (or all) of our time is also important.

I am sure that there are some academic people who like being on the edge of campus, or even at some distance from campus, but, like my cousin-in-law, I prefer to be centrally located.

When my cousin-in-law was talking about working in Remote Isolated Building, I remembered that I used to have to visit that very same building years ago, back in the Paper Era, when submitting a grant proposal required the physical handing over of paper forms and documents. Even once proposal submission was electronic, for a while the university still required signed paper forms, delivered in person.

For some reason, the university grants office (and not just at this university, but others with which I have been associated) was not easily accessible from central campus. It was Way Over There, and required an expedition to get to it.

This was annoying not only for the time required but also because, back then, it was one of the places on campus where I inevitably had to deal with the assumption that I was not a professor/PI, but instead someone sent by the real professor/PI. I attributed the high incidence of disbelief that I was a professor/PI to several things, among them the fact that the great distance of the building meant that most PI's sent students or underlings with the paperwork instead of making the trek themselves.

Now we just do all of these tasks from our computers. On the internet, everyone believes I am a professor. In person.. not so much.

But back to the issue of location: Working in a non-central campus location might decrease your chances of being hit in the head by an errant Frisbee (and parking might be easier and cheaper), but I like being in a very campusy part of campus. I like it not just for the practical (logistical) reasons of being able to walk to offices, classrooms, and labs (and even the library) when necessary, but also because I like the whole campus vibe/scene/landscape/ecosystem. Perhaps the fact that some of us like campuses so much is one reason why we are professors and have never left academia..

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