Friday, March 16, 2007

Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence

I mentioned a couple of nights ago that the future Dr. Mrs. Dr. PGS and I went to this dinner function at my school. Actually, it was a lot more than dinner. It was an afternoon awards ceremony, followed by a public lecture given by a Very Important Public Intellectual. That was followed by a cocktail party with the VIPI and the award winners, and only then did we get our shitty dinner with the VIPI.

Now, the VIPI’s lecture was quite good, both in substance and style. But I wasn’t there for him. I was there for the awards ceremony. See, I was one of ten grad students getting the award. Let’s call it the C. Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence, since that gives a good sense of just how much pompous bullshit dripped from every part of the entire event. I had to walk across a stage in front of, I’d say, about 600 people (who were all there to see the VIPI), shake hands with the dean, get my picture taken, which I fucked up, and then shake hands with a different dean (so many deans!). And then go back to my seat. And then I got to listen to the VIPI’s talk.

The whole event was billed as (roughly) “A Celebration of Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.” The idea was that an outstanding achiever in the field of excellent VIPIing would give a public address. This would be done in the spirit of outstanding achievement, in order to celebrate the outstanding achievement of us ten grad students in out excellent respective fields. The dean made it clear that it was a Big Fucking Deal.

Some of my fellow recipients also thought it was a BFD. One woman had, I think, six members of her family there, her proud dad with a huge camera and an even huger bouquet of pink roses.

I was a little more sanguine. I have only one goal in grad school right now: to get a job. And this is not going to help with that. It’s one more line on my CV under the heading “Awards and Distinctions.” And frankly, I’ve already got enough crap there. When I was putting together my CV in the fall, my supervisor told me to single-space that section, since no one actually reads it anyway. It just has to look like there’s a lot of stuff there, and the single-spacing, he said, makes it look “denser.”

I don’t want to seem ungrateful, and I appreciated the chance to shake the dean’s hand, since she’s done things for the school that I really support. But it wasn’t a Big Fucking Deal. It was nothing but a single line on my CV, and one that I didn’t need anyway.

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