Today my assigned task was to listen to 6 of my colleagues each talk for an hour about their ideas regarding possible future directions for our department. A co-interviewer and I took notes, helped move the discussion along, and we will now synthesize our findings to present to a committee of colleagues doing similar things with the rest of the faculty. The marathon day of meetings was both interesting and not interesting at the same time.
Interesting: We don't often spend that much time just listening to our colleagues' ideas. In faculty meetings, people just blather in a non-linear way and not much gets done. Today, I really got to find out in great detail what 6 of my colleagues think about the future of our general field.
Not interesting: My co-interviewer (a junior colleague) and I were assigned 6 faculty who are either not active researchers or who are isolated from the rest of the department (for various reasons). Our senior colleagues are interviewing the important people. No one is going to care about what we heard today, and in some cases for good reason. Nevertheless, we listened respectfully and will do our best to present their views to the committee. When my co-interviewer saw the list of faculty we were assigned, he asked "Are we being punished?". No, but welcome to the bottom of the food chain; that's how this place works.
It was a long day of talking to somewhat strange people, but it was not a waste of time. However, after the 6 hours, my lucidity was obliterated and I am only now approaching the state of being able to put coherent sentences together.
7 years ago