Monday, May 8, 2017

Five Years of Paterson Chairing

Today, I was notified that I have been renewed* as the Paterson Chair in International Affairs!  This may sound strange to Americans, where most endowed chairs are lifetime appointments.  It has been my experience in Canada that these things tend to be fixed terms with renewals, as my Canada Research Chair was back at McGill (only one renewal allowed for that federally funded chair).  To be clear, the Chair means essentially that I have a fancy title and a yearly fund to spend on research, which is mighty handy, especially for those projects that are not related to my SSHRC-funded one.  Also, there are expectations of research productivity and outreach that come with the chair.  Regarding the renewal, I am not surprised nor troubled, although I am enchanted and humbled.  Huh?  Yes, I am bring back the very oldest Spew meme.
H/t to Ben Forrest
  • As Paterson Chair, the most surprising aspect has been (although not really anymore) is when media types introduce me on live TV or radio as the Chair of the Paterson School of International Affairs.  This gives me far more responsibility than I have, and, no, I am not the new director of NPSIA.  It does lead to friends having the opportunity to screen capture my reactions:
  • In my five years at Carleton, I have been little troubled and certainly not by having the Paterson Chair.  Nor have I been troubled by anything at Carleton except for one thing: that the way the internal market works here provides disincentives to do the stuff that they want us to do.  Specifically, our building, the Richcraft (formerly the River) Building, was designed to do public outreach stuff, but to use it for such purposes--public talks, workshops, conferences--we have to use our own research monies to pay for the space/tech support/etc.  This is not just a Carleton thing, but it is a strange economy where only some entities within the school can make money off of other departments--the space folks, the a/v folks who set up stuff for
    conferences, the printing folks, and the like.  My first inquiries into podcasting got stymied when I found that the Journalism school wanted $ for using their tech, but, of course, didn't expect us to charge them for being practice dummies for their students who are working on their interviewing skills.  NPSIA has no products to sell to this internal market, so I was pondering the making and distribution of meth, but that seemed to be more trouble than it is worth.
  • After five years, I am still quite enchanted with Carleton, the Faculty of Public Affairs, and NPSIA.  It has been a very supportive environment for the stuff that I do, and they have
    consistently recognized my contributions.  This goes a long way to making me feel accepted and appreciated.  I am also still quite a fan of Ottawa, as it has not only made my ultimate commutes short (the summer fields are 12 minutes away with little traffic between my house and the sweet fields), but it has provided ample opportunities for me to meet all kinds of interesting people.  Just in the past two weeks, I have been able to chat with Ambassadors, Defence Attaches, politicians, defence contractors, military officers, journalists, bureaucrats, and more.  Living in a national capital is great for someone who is intensely curious about International Relations.  
  • I am humbled, as NPSIA has hired great people both before I arrived and since.  The people I work with are not only sharp and very experienced in Canadian international affairs, but also incredibly nice folks who make the place a fun place to work.  We are about to go through regime change as our Director, Dane Rowlands, is stepping down after five years (each term is five years, and that is plenty) and Teddy Samy is stepping up.  I am sure Teddy will do great, so I am not worried about losing one of the two best department chairs (that is what our director is, essentially) I have ever had. Of course, I am not that humble, but these folks do make me realize that I am not that special (I just hope the next renewal committee does not read this post).  
While I have not quite hit the exact date that would make it five years in Ottawa or at NPSIA, this day is pretty special.  I am glad that things have worked out better than I could have imagined, and am looking forward to the next five years.  I will use the Paterson funds to continue to ask questions that come up along the way, to fund research assistance, and to disseminate the findings (i.e., pay for book talks in cool cities preferably near ski slopes).**   Now,  I must return to the less pleasant research task of transcribing notes.

* I am a tenured Professor, so I am going to be employed at Carleton until I decide I am not.... pretty much.
** I would mention the students at NPSIA--how wonderful they are and how much I have enjoyed teaching here--but as the accounting folks here remind me, the Paterson Chair money is for research, not teaching.  A minor gripe.

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