Back to school in Ireland

I finally left Harvard in the last week of August, having had a wonderful summer working quietly on The Book during the day and sailing on the Charles in the long summer evenings.

It’s nice to be back home too – no more going around in silly shorts, suncream and shades. Back at Waterford Institute of Technology in the southeast of Ireland, we are already in the second week of teaching term. The bad news is that thanks to the recession, teaching loads have been increased (increased productivity!) leaving almost no time at all for frivolous activities such as research. On the other hand, there is much discussion of the college being upgraded to full university status, mainly because the government thinks that an upgrade ay help attract industry to a region badly hit by the recession. So after all the valiant efforts of WIT researchers, it seems an upgrade may occur for political reasons…

How does the college seem after Harvard? Colleagues keep asking me this. Yes, I miss the beautiful Harvard campus, the incredible libraries and the superb seminars. However, the main day-to-day difference is one of organization. There seems to be a problem of chaotic timetabling in WIT for the first few weeks of every semester, at least in my department. It’s very stressful and leaves no time over for prep or research. I’ve never understood why this happens every year, as our staff and courses change relatively little. One reason might be that lecturers are left to decide who teaches what amongst themselves, pitting Alice against Bob. Give me a didactic Head of Department any day…

Waterford Institute of Technology

On the other hand, it’s great to be in a job with an influx of Hopeful Young People every year. I always think that academics are v lucky in this regard, it doesn’t really matter which college you are in. Another change is that I am moving to a smaller, quieter office yipee. There is a special place in hell reserved for managers who believe that academics work well in large open-plan offices. With students coming to the door and phones continually ringing, it’s impossible to get any work done between classes. Hopefully I’ll have some quiet evenings in my nice new office….


Filed under Teaching, Third level

9 responses to “Back to school in Ireland

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Back to school in Ireland

  2. in light of today’s news from CERN may I suggest a working title for “the Book :” In this OPERA sixty nanoseconds is an Eternity. Maybe just a chapter heading or a hefty footnote.

  3. Justin

    Interesting, I would have thought that all academics giving lectures would be entitled to their own office? Is that not the case in the ITs, or in WIT at least?

  4. cormac

    Justin: I wish. Very few IoTs have reasonable office accommodation for lecturers. It is a feature of their history, as former 2nd level vocational schools in the 1970s

  5. Andrew


    How does the climate compare back home compared with Harvard? Is it milder?


  6. Hi, Cormac – I’m headed down to the Littlest tonight, wishing you were here :-) You are missed!

  7. cormac

    Hey Andrew; the climate is quite a bit cooler, thank God. Also plenty of rain, a bit too much at the moment. Ah well. Plenty of waves for surfing

  8. cormac

    Hi Sara, I miss the Boston sessions. Ah well, might be back in the summer

  9. Remember, the door is always open on the island – and next summer we’ll definitely find some waves :-)