Monday, September 26, 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..

12 comments:

flipsockgrrl said...

At the research university where I work the central part of the campus is reserved for teaching, research and student support services -- the core activities of the university.

The grants office, IT department and facilities/grounds and finance offices are banished to the fringes because they are primarily staffed by non-academics -- peripheral activities, if you will.

Anonymous said...

What is it about campuses? Certainly the 'classic' campuses are lovely, but I even get a thrill from the ones dominated by hideous cement-themed architecture from unfortunate eras in building design.

aceon said...

I used to walk across the main campus to get to my office, so I got a daily dose of campus vibe (which is lovely, especially in the fall) before retreating to research land. I think I have a preference for that over my current office (close to classrooms) which involves loud conversations in the hall by students about a startling array of topics. Apparently they don't realize (or care) that there are people in all the rooms with open doors surrounding them.

Anonymous said...

I have a love-hate relationship with the Campus Scene (love the academics, hate the Big Sports).

Anonymous said...

I have a love/hate relationship with working in the middle of a campus that is also a large tourist attraction. It is very lovely, but it is difficult to go places without being asked for directions or to take a picture. It also has less of a "campus vibe" and more of a tourism vibe. It makes me miss the quieter environment of the PUI that I attended.

Anonymous said...

I love the campus in the summer, then I have a week or so of shock when it is crowded at the beginning of the fall term, and then I equilibrate with that and am happy to wander amidst flocks of students, but then I enjoy the winter break, and then.. etc.

EliRabett said...

Tear these bunkers down

Lisa C. said...

yep, I am in the love the campus atmosphere camp, although sometimes it can be a hassle (we get run over on a regular basis by bikes, skateboards, etc). Overall the vibe is great and i feel like a part of the community because i am surrounded by it.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"(love the academics, hate the Big Sports)"

Me too, which is one of the reasons I like being at a top research university that does not have big sports (no football stadium, more money spent on intramurals than interscholastic).

In the time I've been here, the campus "upgraded" from club sports to NCAA Division III, which I think is a step in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

I am in Isolated Building, because that is where the newer lab spaces go up. Parking is easier (and free) but I often skip colloquia because I don't want to deal with the 15 min commute on either side.

Cherish said...

Being on campus is nice, so long as there's a good coffee shop close by.

Anonymous said...

I love being on central campuses in the summer. There is still plenty going on, only the occasional tour, and the times my life is in danger from a "cyclist" drops dramatically.