Academics do a horrible job of supporting each other

Well, that’s a generalization, but it seems pretty clear that words of encouragement from our peers in the academe doesn’t happen often enough. I mean, there’s a dichotomy between wanting to make a name for ourselves and at the same time being really, really happy and proud of other people when they succeed. When we are really, really happy for others, we aren’t letting them know well enough, which translates to when it is our turn to be proud of our achievements, we don’t get enough encouragement from our peers.

Kurt Squire, professor at UWisc Madison, and a driving force in the new wave of video game studies, recently posted a comment about how Bill had a positive influence on his life when he was going through graduate studies and again as a new professional. I wonder if he ever told Bill that, and it makes me have to relook at myself and wonder if I’ve been letting others know how much influence they have on me. Come to think of it… Kurt, we hardly know each other but you’ve always been very helpful whenever I sought advice. Thank you.

The former dean of engineering at UW and more recently the chancellor at UCSC, Denise Denton , recently committed suicide. No one has formally said this, but it is generally understood that Bill also committed suicide. What is it about this profession? I think part of it is that we aren’t letting each other know we appreciate each other as people and as academics.

It also has been a minor shock to my world view. For some reason I had always assumed acts of suicide were typical of angsty teens or 20-somethings going through deep depression. To see two people who were nearing the end of their successful careers… I dunno… shock. Makes me wonder about what success means.

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