What do you expect from us?

There was a time when an academic was just expected to be a good researcher and a competent teacher.

Now however an academic is expected to be an active researcher, an excellent teacher, an entrepreneur, an innovator, an accountant, an administrator, an inventor, a fund-raiser, a media performer, a businessperson.... In short there is a lot being expected from the poor overloaded academic. However I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. And I actually don't know of anyone who ticks all of those boxes (although I know of a couple who tick most of them).

In truth many of us became academics precisely so as not to become business people. Growing up in our rather snobby academic household I clearly recall the term "businessman" being used as a form of put-down. Our own self image as academics was (is?) as financially disinterested and personally unambitious, but with a noble curiosity about  science, and/or literature and/or the arts.

However the expected attribute that worries me most is that of "innovator". The reason being that nowadays innovation is being entrusted solely to academia, and frankly in the past most innovation has come from outside of the universities. Think of a famous inventor and phrases like "college drop-out" and "no formal education" come rather uncomfortably to mind. The problem is that by implying that innovation is somehow the reserve of the universities, others may feel that their own ideas are not worthy of consideration. That would be a shame.