I could not sleep when I went to bed last night. I was awash with memories of people I knew at the University over the 37 years I worked there. I was not remembering my work friends in this trip down memory lane. In this particular bout of insomnia I was obsessing about the many faculty members I knew over the years. They paraded by me, in chronological order by place of work. I worked one administrative job or another in 9 different departments in those years, so the parade went on for a long time. I was reminded how deeply I care about most of them, and what an impact they each had on my life.
They are an interesting bunch, those academics. Except for a few notable jerks, they were/are lovely people. The engineers and mathematicians are less sociable with staff than humanists and social scientists are. However, the theoretical and applied "science guys" are still lovely because they are gloriously logical and conflict averse. There is little drama in those departments. I especially liked working in the Department of Mathematics.
The humanists spent more time interacting and building relationships with the staff. However, they also tend to pull the staff into interpersonal conflicts. It is a toss up as to what environment was best. I will say I preferred the humanities despite the emotional wear and constant drama. I guess I am a glutton for punishment, or perhaps they were simply more interesting to me.
I worked at an Ivy League research university, so the faculty's contractual duties involved teaching, research, and public service. Some of the professors are the best in the world at what they do. All of them were probably the smartest kids in their high schools. They all made top grades in college. They studied for their PhD's with icons in their respective fields. If they had an overriding fault as a group, it is that they all needed to be perceived as "smart." It needlessly stressed them out! More on that some other time.
None of them were rah rah boosters of the University. It just doesn't seem to work that way at a research university. The faculty identified with their international field first and foremost. Where they were employed was of secondary interest, as long they derived sufficient status and salary from the appointment. The central administration never quite understood that. Those bozos are business types who don't quite understand the community they serve. Actually, they may not even understand they "serve" the faculty and students. Education was our business product, for crying out loud!
Anyway, it was interesting to be around people of such distinction and drive, because I'm not that.