Festering teacups, yes. Beard, no

May 19, 2006

Name : Alan Greaves

Age : 36

Job : Lecturer in archaeology at Liverpool University. My teaching and research focus is classical Greek archaeology. My administrative roles include disability and widening participation, which I relish because they require creativity and contact with students. I was recently made a National Teaching Fellow, and Isit on national and university committees.

Salary : £30K-ish.

Background : I had a comprehensive education in Yorkshire before reading archaeology at Durham University. I did postgraduate studies in Greek and Islamic studies at Leeds University, culminating in a PhD in classics.

These degrees, plus working as a field archaeologist, fostered my research interests, and the PGCert that all new lecturers do at Liverpool sparked my passion for teaching.

Working hours and conditions : Very flexible when I'm excavating in Turkey, where we start before sunrise. Like many junior lecturers I used to work stupid hours, but now I refuse to buy into that culture - it's unhealthy and counterproductive. I leave the office promptly every day to go to the gym.

Number of students you teach : My largest class is about 100 and my smallest about 20, but at least once a week I do postgraduate supervisions over a cup of tea and a packet of Jammie Dodgers.

Biggest bugbear : Negativity and cynicism.

How you solved it : With unrelenting Panglossian positivity.

Worst moment in university life : I've made too many failed grant/job applications to remember - dwelling on them and becoming bitter would be just a self-indulgence.

What your office is like : Like the set of Steptoe and Son circa 1970. Every flat surface in the room is covered with papers and festering teacups. I believe there's no point in being an academic if you don't fully embrace the lifestyle - but I do draw the line at growing a full beard.

What university facilities do you use? The photocopier, Victoria's Sandwich Bar, and our wonderful support staff.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Hardly at all and this is a great pity, because my colleagues are smashing.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally? People who hark on about some idealised past when they were at Oxford/Cambridge (delete as applicable).

Best excuses for bad behaviour you have heard : "It was on the web..."

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