In the summer, some faculty spend a lot of time in the department, some come and go, and some disappear for the entire summer. I am in the middle category: I'm here a lot, but then I travel, then I'm here a lot, them I'm away again.
I have written (complained) before about how those of us who are in the department in the summer get asked to do 'volunteer' service work. The university doesn't pay our salaries in the summer, but administrative tasks must be done and someone has to do them. Those someones are the ones who are in their offices and labs in the summer.
But every once in a while, something good (in the administrative sense) happens to those of us who lurk in our offices for at least part of the summer. In fact, something pretty good just happened to me today.
I was sitting at my desk and the Chair walked into my office. I admit that my very first thought was "Oh no, he's going to ask me to do something." But no. In this case, my cynicism was unfounded, though in 99.57% of cases it is not.
The Chair reminded me that last spring I had compiled a list of requests for teaching supplies that various faculty desired. These supplies were all of a related sort that could be ordered from one vendor and that would benefit a variety of classes. I was motivated to compile this list in part out of frustration with the sad state of some teaching materials I was using and also because a new faculty member will soon teach a class that I have taught for many years, and I was feeling bad about handing over to him some ancient somewhat-wrecked supplies. I thought he should have nice new materials for his first experience teaching this class. It occurred to me that other colleagues might also want some similar items, so I made a spreadsheet/wish-list. Alas, the funds for teaching supplies vanished, and we were unable to order anything.
Funds for teaching supplies have reappeared and must be spent this week or the Dean will take the funds away. The Chair was wandering the halls looking for faculty who had made requests last spring, and he found me. The other people who made requests are not here, so he told me to give my list to an accountant and the items will be purchased.
I am feeling very lucky that this happened this week (when I am in my office) instead of last week (when I was far away). My colleagues who are away this week missed out on an opportunity, but I don't feel too anguished about my random luck because the funds that just fell from the sky will benefit many colleagues, not just me, and because the windfall is for teaching materials, not for a new espresso machine for me office (I will have to use grant funds for that*).
* Note to NSF program officers: That was a joke. Really.
12 years ago