Friday, September 25, 2009

Hosting Italian Academics and a Funeral

Today we will be hosting two female academics from Italy, one of which works in applied mathematics and the other in behavioral finance. They are collaborators and are now in the US prior to going to a conference in Toronto. I have known about this visit for months now and am reciprocating, in part, the hospitality extended to me when I gave a plenary talk in Rome at the NET2009 conference last May. There was no way in which to reschedule this visit.

I have written before how academics have to be very adaptable since no two days tend to be alike, even with a regular teaching schedule.

Last Saturday, a colleague of mine in the Finance and Operations Management Department at the Isenberg School of Management died while walking his dog and his wife saw it happen. Yesterday evening I went to his wake. The day before he died he was at school. Today is his funeral but I am obligated to host international visitors, who are scheduled to arrive precisely at the same time as the funeral. His death also brings to light all the other activities he was involved in, over and above teaching several courses in finance as a senior lecturer. The administration managed to find quickly how to cover the courses, which is something that is essential since one can't reschedule courses either. The programmatic and cross-college activities that he was involved in will be much tougher to fill.

Faculty are now doing more and more with less and less (support). Teaching and research should come first but it is service that ties all the components together.