I'm an untenured professor who was assigned to chair a committee.* A tenured colleague (who shall be called Dr. L) brought a bunch of work to the committee but feels that it isn’t his/her place to do any of it. Dr. L was released from teaching to develop a proposal for significant changes to our programs. To her credit, Dr. L developed a proposal that won department-level support despite complicated politics. My committee is formally responsible for changes to our program, so I'm responsible for sending it to the next level. At the next level, you need more than just the proposal made to the department (which is nuts-and-bolts stuff about how it will work). You need a detailed justification, with statistics, comparisons to other programs, and so forth. We've all reviewed the evidence and agree that there’s a very strong case for this change to the program, but we need to synthesize it into a document that hits all the things that the administration is looking for.
Dr. L isn't on the committee, but when we got the task of preparing the document I asked Dr. L if she would take the lead, outline what needs to go in it, and delegate to us as she sees necessary. I did this for 3 reasons:
1) Dr. L spoke very passionately about being personally committed to these changes to our program. In fact, Dr. L views this as being integral to her future career plans, and wants to be the lead on steering this program when it is approved. Dr. L even went so far as to wrestle control of this from another colleague who has far more experience than Dr. L in these matters.
So I thought that Dr. L would be upset if I didn't involve her.
2) The rules governing this addition to our program are complicated, and Dr. L did a lot of work to master the intricacies. I specifically said to Dr. L that I was approaching her out of respect for the work she had put into understanding what needs to be done, and her networking with the relevant people.
3) I've seen other colleagues work on proposals for various changes. Even if they weren’t on the relevant committees they would attend open meetings of the committees and volunteer to help throughout the process, because they were invested in the success of the proposal.
Dr. L resents being asked to do this, even though when I first approached her I volunteered for a significant task and told her to delegate the rest of it as she sees necessary. I offered a longer time frame after she expressed displeasure, but she still feels that this is not her job. Perhaps I made n00b mistakes in how I discussed things, but an experienced (and tenured) colleague who is on the committee and involved in the process says I handled it fine.
What I'm here to vent about is not the report itself (serving on this committee is part of my job, so I'll do my job and make sure the report gets done without her), but the fact that this person can get control of a project outside her expertise, get time to work on it, and then bail on it in a later stage. However, the rewards structure at our school is screwed up, so I'll work much harder than this person and get exactly the same deal. And this person will remain popular and will probably get more release time for similar tasks in the future because she is on the right side of the right people. So, actually, I'll get fewer rewards. It's very, very discouraging to work with people like this in a system where the incentives for hard work are almost entirely personal. Yes, I'm a professional who wants to do a good job even if my superiors don’t reward me, but a reward now and then certainly wouldn’t hurt, you know? Especially when other people are shirking work and making my work harder but getting at least the same rewards as me. Can I get some overtime pay for cleaning up her mess?
A Steelers Fan
*Before you ask why an untenured professor is chairing a committee rather than focusing 100% on research, that's just the way it is at my institution