A New Regime

With the departure of Professor Philip Nolan (whose last day at Maynooth is today) there will soon be a new regime in place at the University. Nobody knows what changes will take place, but there will undoubtedly be some and there are reasons for being nervous about what they will bring to STEM disciplines.

On a more personal note some things will change less than I originally planned. Back in July, exhausted after a difficult academic year, I wrote this:

I was appointed as Head of Department for three years, but last week I asked the University to let me step down from my role as Head of Department of Theoretical Physics from the end of September 2021, a year early. I’ll carry on as a Professor, hopefully with some time to do research, although my teaching duties will undoubtedly remain heavy.

Part of the thinking behind that decision was that a major reorganization of Physics at Maynooth University was on the cards and I thought the position of Head of Department would no longer really exist from the end of September. It is now clear, however, that the reorganization is not imminent. Don’t ask me whether or when it will happen now. That will be up to the new President. It certainly won’t be in effect from 1st October, though. We also have serious staffing issues this year due to the retirement of one colleague, the departure of another to a position in Germany, and another taking a sabbatical for the year. These positions are currently replaced by temporary lectureships, the holder of one of which is still yet to arrive in Ireland and is doing his lectures remotely from abroad.

The current state of the Department is not such as to make the position of Head attractive so, after discussions with my colleagues in the Department earlier this month I agreed to carry on for another year, until the end of my original term. Hopefully by this time next year we will be back to a full complement of permanent staff and the position concerning the reorganization will be clearer – or indeed the reorganization might have actually happened – so that would be a far better time for someone to take over if the position still exists.

I do therefore have another year of heavy teaching and administration in front of me, except that my colleagues have agreed to help me out considerably by taking some of the administrative burden on their own shoulders and teaching will hopefully be in person for the whole year and not online, which makes it far less onerous.

On the other hand, there are two silver linings. One is that after three years as Head of Department I get an automatic sabbatical – if I can find another institution who wants to host me! The other is that this Semester I have no teaching on Thursdays. That is more by luck than good judgement but I decided to seize the opportunity to make it my “research day”. For the rest of the Semester I will be working from home on Thursdays, as I am indeed doing now (although actually not working at the moment but taking a tea break and writing this post).

As it happens Thursday is also the day of my newly organized veggie box delivery, so here’s a picture of the enormous Savoy cabbage that arrived this morning (along with various other items such as leeks, rainbow chard and beetroot):

One final aspect of the new regime is that being at home today I’ve finally surrendered to the colder weather and put the central heating on…

8 Responses to “A New Regime”

  1. Heavy teaching duty while being HoD?! Sounds like a contradiction in terms.

  2. That is one big cabbage! Do you have to go somewhere for a sabbatical? Can’t you just stay at Maynooth but focus on research?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: