Administrative ettiquette for evening events

Dear Administrators,

I understand that Dr. Bigwig in a field related to -ology is coming to campus this week and that we’re all very excited to have him here. I’m glad that we are throwing a reception before his lecture. Free food is good. I even support the decision to move Dr. Bigwig’s provcatively titled lecture to the evening, in the hope that the general public will be lured onto campus to hear him speak.

But please lay off the pressure on the faculty to attend the event. We’d like to come. We’re interested in the topic. (We like free fancy food.) We even like to occasionally mingle with our colleagues after hours. But some of us have families. And some of us teach our first class at 9 am and end our last class at 5 pm. And that means that if we rush to daycare and rush our children home, we can get there just in time to turn around and head back to campus for that (not child-friendly) reception and lecture. Some of our children go to be at 8 pm. So even if we come home immediately after the lecture, we’ll still miss out on a whole day with our children. And for a few of us (or maybe just me), the chance to hear about our children’s days, give them a bath, and put them to bed is the highlight of our day.

So when you send out the invitation a few weeks ahead of time, that’s great. It lets us plan and decide how to balance our priorities. A reminder email a week ahead of time is a good idea, too. But 5-10 more emails in the days leading up to the event…rather frustrating. I already give up 10-12 hours of my day for my job. Please don’t pressure me to give up those last few hours with my child.



  1. #1 Isis the Scientist
    October 21, 2008

    ScienceWoman, this one really got to ole Dr. Isis today. Tuesdays are typically a long day for me. I had some clinical responsibilities that began at 3 this morning and my evening class ends at 7pm — after the Isis children have been tucked into bed. This morning I kissed Little Isis on the top of his sleeping little head, knowing it will be the only time I see him today.

    For me, night-night time is also the highlight of my day. Tuesdays I don’t have a choice but to miss it, but every other day I guard it ferociously. Stick to your guns, ScienceWoman.

  2. #2 ScientistMother
    October 21, 2008

    I agree with Dr.Isis, especially since they only want to tell you everything for a limited time. As I said today, they grow up too quickly.

  3. #3 anotherone
    October 21, 2008

    Interesting… I’m used to a ‘public’ lecture in the evening, and a more ‘academic’ lecture given by the same guest during the day, at a convenient time. Then there is the possibility for greater total attendance as well as a bit of overlap.

  4. #4 Field Notes
    October 22, 2008

    Posts like these make me simultaneously glad I got out of academia and sad that I did. As much as I miss those opportunities to attend lectures and have intelligent discussions with peers, I also am thrilled to be able to spend so time with my husband and kids.

    ..hopelessly torn..

  5. #5 Female Engineering Professor
    October 22, 2008

    I agree that you should not feel guilty and you should head home and kiss that sweet little toddler’s head and be there for the nighttime routine.

    However, I do not think you should feel pressure from or be annoyed at the organizers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. They’re just hoping they haven’t invited a BigWig to an empty auditorium; they aren’t actively trying to tear Parent Profs from all the Minnows out there.

    It doesn’t get any easier on this front for a while. Sports and activities inevitably become a part of the evening routine. But when I think about how I have potentially 30 more years in this job, I know there will be plenty of time for going to evening talks later.

    So I leave the faculty meetings at 4:30 and skip the evening events without guilt or remorse. The BigWigs in my life weigh are about 3 feet tall and need some love from their mama.

  6. #6 ...tom...
    October 23, 2008

    Props to you.

    (That may be my shortest comment ever..!!)


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