Thursday, December 28, 2006

inappropriate request/out-of-character response

I just got an email from a prospective student saying that the director of an interdisciplinary graduate program (IGP) on campus had suggested that I " would be interested in answering ... questions about the program."

Here's the thing. I wasn't in the IGP. Sure it's a related field, but it didn't exist when I arrived here. And even if it had I wouldn't have chosen it, because I learned a hard lesson during my MS that IGPs can have a lot of hidden pitfalls.

And the director of the program should have known that I wasn't in the IGP. She's been the director since the inception 3 years ago, and I never even expressed interested in switching into it.

So I sent the prospective student an email back explaining that I wasn't in the program and giving her the name of someone who was. I also gave brief answers to the two questions she had that weren't program specific. She seemed like a nice enough person, I didn't want to be rude.

And then I left a voice mail for the IGP director, explaining that I wasn't in the program and couldn't answer questions about it and I wasn't interested in talking to prospective students unless they were planning to work with my advisors.

It pissed me off. Probably more than it should have. But I'd just gotten some upsetting personal news (more on that later) and it's not the first time that the IGP director has shown a remarkable lack of good judgement and tact. To demonstate:

Two years ago, when the program first started, she asked me to be part of a keynote panel for an on-campus event. I agreed, as did 3 other female grad students. We put together and gave talks and then answered audience questions. There was only time for 4 panelists during the event. At the event, as she was introducing us, she said: "Thanks to these ladies for agreeing to be here today, I asked Guy1, Guy2, and Guy3 to participate, but they were all too busy."

Ugh. Well, hopefully in dealing with today's situation, I've been blunt and irritated enough that she'll just leave me alone from now on.


volcano girl said...

Usually prospective students are sent to current students who highlight the best and brightest of the department. I understand that can be annoying to answer irrelevant questions, but I suggest that you try to be flattered that the IGP prof thought of you. You are articulate and do interesting research, if I were a prospective student, I would be swayed by you!

psychgrad said...

I agree with volcano girl. It would be preferable for the head of your department to know more about your background before recommending you, but I think it's a compliment that she thought you would be a good resource.

What she said at the conference was definitely not appropriate though.

K said...

Sciencewoman, what hidden pitfalls have you learned about IGP? I am in a interdiscinplinary research group, and I begin to hate it because my direct boss does not have the same academic background as I do. I've gotten a feeling that he is trying to 'covert' me, while we are supposed to be solving problems from different perspective! Your insights would be appreciated.