Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Subtle differences between USC and UW

I started a new job as a postdoc at the University of Washington. I've been here for a week now and have noticed a few subtle differences between UW and USC (at least some of which may be due to the small sample size of my observation). I am particularly focusing on the differences that favor UW in this post, so if you are affiliated with USC, don't get upset. Just remember that I am wearing four layers today, at least one of which is waterproof, and am using the warmest blanket I own at night. And it's only the start of October.
  • Talks:
    • The talks I have attended at UW have been of better quality than those at USC.
    • Faculty attend talks. Numerous faculty.
    • Students attend talks.
    • Talks and meetings start and end when they are supposed to end. I cannot remember the last time I attended a 60-minute meeting for less than 90 minutes at USC.

  • Atmosphere:
    • Where at USC stands a statue of Tommy Trojan, at UW stands a larger-than-life statue of George Washington.
    • Faculty have no problem wearing t-shirts. I don't remember seeing that at USC.
    • I've seen students knit at talks. Also, wearing StarTrek costumes to work doesn't seem to be out of the question.
    • Faculty and staff email other faculty and staff (as in the entire faculty and staff lists) daily with things like "My student got a job," or "Good talk coming up tomorrow," or "Good talk in 20 minutes," or "Good talk starting now," or "Does anyone know of a good plumber in the area?"
    • The campus-alert emails say things like "Male suspects asked the victims for pizza and when refused became agitated," instead of "Shooting on campus." (I kid you not! Pizza! The email's subject was "attempted robbery.")
  • Support:
    • There is ample technical support. If you email them with a problem, they come over and fix it. They set up equipment. They have extra mice, keyboards, speakers, etc. in case yours break.
    • There is ample administrative support. They are fast. They are friendly. They are not nearly as overworked (because there are many of them) at UW as they are at USC, making them both more helpful and happier!
    • Every first-year students gets a department laptop or desktop when s/he arives.
    • There is ample access to printers (b/w, color, duplex, transparency, large-format), fax machines, copy machines, etc.
    • There are supplies easily available to set up your office, mail things, etc.
    • There is free coffee, tea, and microwave and fridge access available to all grad students, staff, and faculty.
    • There are no personalized keys. Faculty keys open all offices (including all other faculty). Student keys open all student offices but not faculty offices.

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