How I Spent My Sunday

I received this e-mail from a former student who is now in the doctoral program and is writing his dissertation.

Dear Ryan,
I know you are probably very busy with all of your projects and have little time. Still, I am asking for a great favor. I would like you to read two chapters of my dissertation, give me your opinion, and help me to correct the American English that I seem to have lost. It is only 35 pages total. Really, I appreciate your help with this.

True, I have B and B guests, Ron is away, I have Frommer’s research to do, I just finished a project for the NileGuide online at, and missed the wedding of two other former students due to a headache all day yesterday, so what else do I have to do? Guess I will read Zoli’s chapters.

If the topic were interesting, it would have gone a whole lot faster, but it had as much interest for me as how snails produce their slime fluids to aid their locomotion. It literally took me four hours to edit, while all of the time I am not certain who I was more angry at. Was it Zoli for asking or me for doing it? At the same time, I was questioning whether it was my ego that was being stroked by his asking so that is what motivated me or if it was the fact that students get so little support from their own professors that I feel the need to model for them what a professor should be like. None of the answers have been clarified to my satisfaction.

Perhaps a reflection of part of the above is that just this weekend alone, I have received seven requests from BA students, five of whom I do not even know, who have asked me to be their thesis adviser for spring 2010. Learning my lesson from having ten to twelve MA and BA advisees in one semester and now with the university changing our teaching load to eighteen hours a week, I have had to limit myself to five. There used to be a rule that for every two advising students, you were relieved from teaching one class. I never took advantage of this, because there was never a class I was willing to relinquish. That rule has been made null and void; the offer is no longer on the table.