Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Odd day

Well my iMac sits alone by the step, having given up the ghost at the last thunder clap. Rabbits! There was so much that was not backed up.

Been that sort of a day - I did watch the Shot putt tonight just to see the setting being used - then a couple more events but still no excitement.

While frantically putting the last touches to the notes for tomorrow's course took a little time out to go to a new faculty reception and in chatting with Hatless's wife found that she has just had gall bladder and stomach surgery, to go with the breast cancer treatment last year. So she has been confined a lot, which may explain some of Hatless stress.

But then I later went to the meeting to decide on "Where our Good Ship of Academe" should venture forth into a new emphasis area of research activity and he was the one that made the presentation I was expecting from the Duchess. (Though she wasn't there again). Not a very impressive presentation and virtually filled with the little downloadable gimmicks that disguise a poor argument. Which was sad (and frustrating) since there was a much better case to be made. It was too vague and filled with generalities where there was a chance to be specific and pro-active.

Interesting that the discussion turned to the question as to whether it is better to fund say 18 faculty with grad students in the hopes that one or two will seed programs that grow to greatness, or whether it is better to fund a small group to make a more concerted effort, or whether it is better to find a single national leader to come and create a program, with addtional support that the position would allocate.

The latter is much in the vein of the role of the Distinguished Professor and I got the feeling that the Prince Regent did not care for it (a pity since that is the option Hatless expounded). Unfortunately most of the others favored the scattering of the seed on the ground approach. And in my experience this does not work very well at creating national (or better) programs.

Yes maybe with a lot more effort by one or two people it can be filtered and massaged until a nucleus to build a strong program can be defined from the one or two folk that emerge. But in terms of creating a faster track to a strong program it is better to take a few people who are already active and give them significantly more funding which allows them to step up to a higher plane of performance and visibility more rapidly. For those not funded it also gives a reward to aim for (if in subsequent years it is passed judiciously around) rather than, as in the broad scattering of the seed, becoming considered something of an entitlement. (This, I hasten to add, is separate from Start-Up funding of which I am very strongly in favor).

I don't know when the final decisions will be made, but sitting almost silent through most of the discussion I came away uninspired and maybe this is where I should start the disconnect process - or have I already ?


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