This year I somehow I ended up on four (4) committees that review Other Faculty and their research ideas, accomplishments, and/or productivity. This seems excessive to me, but there are at least 2 explanations for this turn of events:
1. The usual reason for senior FSPs: There are so few female full professors in the physical sciences-engineering-math that we get called on quite a lot to serve on certain committees. Sometimes I just say no because I don't have the time (or interest), but sometimes I feel that it is important to say yes. This accounts for one of the committees this year.
2. There is a very nice, competent, hard-working, smart, and generally awesome staff person in charge of organizing some of these committees, and whenever she asks me to serve on a committee, I find that I can't say no. This accounts for 2 of the committees this year.
I have no explanation for the 4th committee, other than I felt that I should do it so that I had a voice in some things about which I would probably otherwise have complained.
I sort of followed my "conservation of committee mass" rule of quitting a committee if I add a new committee. The only one I added without quitting another was the least time-consuming of the four.
In none of these cases, when asked to be on one of these committees (or when I agreed to be nominated for an elected position), did I think "OK, but I really don't want to be on that awful time-wasting committee". I was lucky in that, I guess. I felt that all these committees were in some way worthwhile.
I am pretty sure that I would have said nyet if asked to be a committee that I felt a great reluctance to join because I thought it would be even more boring than most committee assignments or because I didn't think it was a good use of my time. I suppose that is a selfish, but any guilt I might feel is completely assuaged by my awareness of how much time I devote to institutional service.
When asked to be on a committee, do your criteria for accepting vs. declining to be on the committee depend on your prediction of whether you would find the committee interesting and/or a good use of your time, or does your sense of duty and academic citizenship triumph over such selfish concerns?
6 months ago