11 December 2015

“Hey, did anyone win a Nobel?”

Earlier this week, I got one of those emails that had been forwarded through the administrative chain (Provost’s office to dean to associate dean to department chair to faculty).

“Our Strategic Analysis office need to know what awards our faculty have won!”

I keep wondering why individual faculty are being asked to for this information through email when our institution subscribes to a service called Digital Measures that tracks this stuff. Faculty enter their achievements in the system, and people can pull reports from it at any time. I also wonder why this information can’t be pulled from the annual reports faculty have to submit every year.

Although I hadn’t won any awards, I opened up the spreadsheet to see what they were looking for. First line of the spreadsheet:

Nobel prize.

Eyebrow raise.

I keep looking down the list. Pulitzer prize. McArthur award. Awards that get international coverage.

If a faculty member won a Nobel prize, most universities would have press releases sent to every major news outlet and announcements up on their website out before the first morning coffee break.

The thought that adminstration has to ask, “By the way, did anyone on our campus win a Nobel while we weren’t looking?” makes adminstrators look like they’re isolated in some alternate universe bubble that only rarely connects to our own, and they occasionally manage to break through for a brief peek at what’s happening in the reality of faculty, staff, students, and major media outlets.

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