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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Big Meeting

Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting with a few key professors in the Physics & Astronomy department. I will be outlining my ideas for an outreach program centered around the university's telescope (which is scheduled to be shut down this Fall). Then, as a group (hopefully), we will decide whether this program is worth pursuing.

I'm nervous, and for a few reasons:

1. There hasn't been a ton of support to keep the observatory open. During a departmental meeting, when the faculty was asked if they cared about the observatory being shut down (in order to save money, of course), most people didn't even flinch. The good news is the people that do care are younger, bring in a ton of money, and seem to have quite a bit of power in the department.

2. Two of the people that will be at the meeting have been using the observatory almost exclusively. Therefore, they pretty much have the reign over the thing, and it might be hard to convince them to convert the observatory from a research facility to an education & outreach one. The good news is one will be retiring this summer, and the other probably will in the next few years. So, it's hard to justify keeping it as research-only just for them.

3. I seem to be the last line of defense for the observatory. If this program doesn't go ahead, then the observatory will surely shut down. However, if the program does go ahead, I want to be in charge, and I have a feeling that will be met with some resistance (even though no one else is willing to step up to the plate). Not sure what the good news is here.

It will be interesting to see how this meeting goes. I have met with each of these people individually to discuss this project, but am getting conflicting messages: what they say to me and what they (apparently) say to others has been different. I figure if I get them all in one room, then there will be no mistake on who says what.

I will post an update tomorrow - keep your fingers crossed for me!