1.6. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO LIFE? 13
1.6 What Else Is There to Life?
Well, more than you ever imagined. I have been a Professor now for thirty-
four years, and my mother still thinks that all I do is teach. When I tell her
that my teaching load is typically two courses per term, she wonders what I
do with the rest of my time. I am tempted to say that I coach the football
An academic mathematician is not a high school teacher. While teaching
is a very important part of what you do, it is by no means the only thing.
Measured by the number of hours you will put into it, teaching is well less
than half of what you do.
The rest of what you do is (i) research, (ii) exposition, (iii) departmen-
tal administrative activities, (iv) University administrative activities, (v)
service to the profession. In item (iii) I am including, of course, serving on
committees and running programs, but also activities that relate to teaching,
such as undergraduate advising. Which is important if you care about math
majors and the program overall. In item (v) I include editing of journals,
refereeing, service on national committees, attending national meetings such
as the January joint meeting of the AMS/MAA. In item (iv) I include any-
thing that the Dean or the Provost or even your Chair may ask you to do.
In item (ii) I include survey articles, book reviews, textbook writing, and
any of the other myriad writing activities that one may take on in this line
The life of an academic mathematician is rich and complex. You should
read this entire book to get a palpable feeling for all its many dimensions.
You must try to keep all the diﬀerent components in perspective, and make
some decisions about how to apportion your time. If you give all your time
to teaching, then you will not be able to develop your research proﬁle. If
you give all your time to research, then your other activities will suﬀer. You
want to be passionate about all the diﬀerent aspects of your life, and you
also want to give each its due.