Here is a problem that I have. Or, maybe, here is something that is true about me that I wish were not true: I want to be famous.
I actually don’t want to be an actual celebrity, but I want to be well-known on my campus; I want to be campus famous (it is worth knowing that I work at a liberal arts school with roughly 350 faculty members).
In and of itself, this is not bad. In fact, it may be good. This stems from the fact that I feel a strong sense of community and I want to nurture it. To do this, I want to build bonds with a lot of people. But even with people I don’t have a bond with, I want them to know who I am. This is useful, since I feel like I have skills that other people might find useful (just as I have people on campus that I seek out when I have a problem that needs to be solved).
But the problem comes in in actually becoming campus famous. The easiest way to do this to do a lot of service. This is because it is very easy to get to work with people outside of my department in doing service, but very difficult to do by teaching or research.
Now I actually enjoy doing some amount of service, I indubitably do my share of service, and I think that much of it is worthwhile. The problem comes from the fact that it is very tempting to keep increasing the amount of service I do. The more service I do, the more people I meet. The more people I meet, the more relationships I build on campus. The more relationships I build on campus, the better the campus is and the happier I am at work.
Part of this is that I want to be a good employee, and doing service is part of that. I also take pride in my school and want to see it reach its potential. I should do enough service to help make these two things happen. But I should not do more than that simply because I want to be campus famous; that is just ego. Doing service just to feed my ego does not align with my goals. I need to be aware of this when I make decisions.
Finally, here is some news that is less related than it initially seems: I recently agreed to be on a campus-wide committee to assess our “Common Curriculum.” But I thought of writing this post before I was even offered a place on this committee, and so I was very mindful of my desire to become campus famous when I accepted. Also, I think that this meets my goal of “Continue to try to improve my teaching.” Having goals is an essential part of good teaching, and assessing them is also important. This is a couple steps removed from how I normally think about my classroom, but I think that I should learn about what we, as a college, are trying to teach our students (and how well we are doing it).
So I am pretty sure that this isn’t just me trying to be campus famous.