New Workshop Series on a Budget
While the blogosphere talk has been of cutting back on workshops, at Wisconsin we’re actually going in the opposite direction. Coming this fall, I’m starting a new corporate governance workshop series. Don’t get me wrong, my state and school are not immune from the financial crisis. In fact, it’s because our base workshop series has finite resources (and space) that I’ve had to get a little creative to bring in more corporate speakers. I tied the series to a seminar class (my models: the Larry Ribstein course at Illinois & Steve Bainbridge course at UCLA). To facilitate higher-level discussions, only students who have taken my business organizations II course are eligible for the class. And of course, faculty will be invited and encouraged to attend.
Now for the real question: How to do something like this on a budget of $3000 or less? Here’s what we came up with: 1) invite speakers every other week for a total of six speakers over the course of the semester; in the week before the speaker’s visit, the students and I will read and discuss foundational works on corporate governance related to the upcoming speaker’s paper; 2) invite nearby speakers to facilitate driving over flying and lunch over dinner where possible (this is easier in some parts of the country than others); and 3) shoulder some of the costs myself. On the last point, I committed to pay half of the expenses out of my annual research allotment, so the school’s commitment was $1,500 max. How can your deans turn you down for $1,500 for something that has all sorts of benefits to both the faculty member and school?
Of course, others might not want to use their allotments for this. But for me, I tend not to hire many RAs (cost-saving tip here: why not structure the work as an independent study for credit if it will be a true learning experience for the student?) or, with a couple of exceptions, attend conferences where my costs aren’t covered by the host. So why not spend some of the allotment to enrich my intellectual life? I won’t be able to invite everyone I want to, even limiting invitations to those at nearby schools, but I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes. It seems that with a little initiative and creativity schools could expand their workshop offerings rather than cut them, even in tough economic times.