Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Other Side

Earlier this week, I had a meeting with the director of the tech transfer office for the state university system. The meeting was facilitated by the small business coordinator of a local state university campus. Apparently, there is a relatively new state program providing funds to support partnerships between small companies and university campuses. They're proposing to fund one or two post-docs to be assigned exclusively to my firm, for collaborative projects. My company would retain rights to any technologies or products that we jointly develop, with a rather generous cut of the proceeds (far better terms than a professor would get).

I'm just floored. I feel pampered and encouraged and wonderful. When I set out, and trudged on, and wilted on the faculty job search, I couldn't have dreamed I'd be where I am now, receiving this kind of attention and support. Maybe it's in part the result of having proven something, simply through perseverance. But I can't help but wonder why the system is so designed for famine and feast.

To be honest, while I'm quite content just now, I'd gladly give up ninety percent of the support and encouragement if I could be assured it'd be spread out among those equally worthy but ignored post-docs and adjuncts among whose ranks I toiled for a time. At the moment I am the beneficiary of largess, but the unfairness of the process is not lost on me. Someday I may again be cast aside, as easily as I am now lauded. I endeavor to retain grace and dignity should that occur, and I hope for the courage to foster and sustain those who find themselves in that state, while I bask in the glow of success.

I'm heading to the state capital next week to serve on an advisory committee for small businesses. I hope to raise some of these issues in an effort to provide opportunties for those many who could benefit from a similar path to the one I've taken, without so many of the bumps and bruises.