This is an incomplete, inaccurate, idiosyncratic glossary of academics in one department. YMMV.
Ghost, or object to be discarded when no longer necessary. Hired begrudgingly to fill gaps due to tenured faculty not wanting to teach dispreferred classes. Referred to with disdain because “some don’t even have PhDs”. Discussed as a problem that calls for pest control even though they teach more than half of the classes. Too beaten down to be scared.
To be taken advantage of because they will do anything to prove their worth. Make the mistake of trying to teach well. Must answer emails all day and all night. Very scared, but also determined. (see also, “Untenured”)
Associate Prof with potential promotion to Full
Firing on all cylinders to strategically select project with biggest payoff in terms of things that count: grant funding, publications in high-profile journals, high-visibility service. Ruthless elimination of anything and everything that does not contribute to promotion, such as mentoring students. More angry than scared.
Associate Prof resigned to endless Associate purgatory
Bitter at how life turned out. Particularly bitter at productive Assistant Professors: how dare they work so hard, making us look bad?
A person who has given up all of their hopes and dreams of an academic career, at least temporarily, to manage the most self-involved, passive aggressive, competitive, entitled, and needy workforce on an unimaginably low budget. The fact that everyone is highly intelligent and some kind of expert on something or other makes things worse, as each person deeply believes that the thing that they are an expert in is the most important one with the greatest need for resources.
Someone who prefers money to research and doesn’t mind receiving 1,000 emails per minute and always being in at least 3 places at once. The awkward middle-person between money (the Provost and above) and research/education (the faculty), but obviously money always wins (as per the job description of “must prefer money to research”). Always overpromising to stem the flow of complaints coming from all sides. Carefully ration their time/energy/support of faculty in direct relation to that person’s importance, derived by a quick calculation based on (rank + productivity + grant funding) divided by salary.
Died and went to heaven where they can freely express how much they loathe others. Rampant complaining/derailing of meetings because there’s no next step to be working towards. Drag up grudges from decades before most people came, to establish seniority. Assume everything that ever gets done is thanks to them because they are always the most senior person on any project. Never answer emails or meet with students, who end up finding frightened Assistant Profs to help them instead. Don’t take kindly to being told what to do.
Idealistic; utterly convinced that they are currently undergoing more stress than anyone has or will ever undergo. Those who end up making it to Assistant Prof may later suffer from Pseudobulbar affect, “a condition that's characterized by episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying” (Source: Mayo Clinic), when they look back and realize how much easier this stage had been.
Not a real academic, will never be deemed worthy, most scared. Will do more work than any other rank but will never receive recognition.
Still not a real researcher, still deemed unworthy, still laboring in vain, but a bit less scared.
One who has received carte blanche to be themselves, which surprisingly often turns out to be an asshole.
Invisible; too depressed to be scared. Allowed the honor of attending faculty meetings, where they do not have a say in anything and are often not even recognized by colleagues. When they speak, everyone is startled because they’ve never heard that voice before.
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