Every Type of Email College Faculty Send to Anyone

It’s been awhile since I’ve appeared in these parts. The first three weeks of classes + my new position + brain-dead Kevin at the end of the day = no blogging. I know the tens of people out there who read this humble blog have been waiting with bated breath for a new post. Or that’s the fantasy I entertain, at least. LET ME DREAM.

Last week, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of links to The Toast’s hilarious piece, “Every Type of Email College Students Send Their Professors.” The best satire is that which rings of truth, and this piece was no exception. Gems like “hey professor i have 97 grandmothers, all dead, i will not be in class for the rest of the semester” hit pretty near the mark, based upon my experience (all students begin emails with “hey” for some reason). But then I got to thinking…there’s one group that is worse in the aggregate than students at email, and that group is FACULTY. Face it, colleagues, we’ve got precious little room to laugh at students’ online foibles. Because we suck, too. In that spirit, drawn from the sometimes-humorous, sometimes-depressing, always-unique trove of experience, I present Every Type of Email College Faculty Send:

“Tomorrow’s development committee meeting has been moved to today at 3. Please come to my office to meet, and bring hard copies of the agenda, which I am attaching to this email.” →  → “Sorry I forgot to attach the agenda. Try it now.” →→ “I don’t know what you’re talking about–I attached the document”→→ “Some of you have told me you still can’t open the attachment. I used WordPerfect. If you don’t have this software, I will be bringing extra copies to the meeting, which is today at 2.”

“I see you have me scheduled for a 10 0’clock class in [Building X]. I cannot teach in this building, as I use slate chalkboards, and these rooms are equipped only with whiteboards. I am uncomfortable teaching with this new technology.”

“Dear colleagues, I am sorry for the previous message that came from my account. That language was not meant to go to everyone; I don’t know the difference between “reply” and “reply all.” You should know that I actually am a supporter of institutional assessment. Please delete the last message, Thank you.”

“Dear [Work-Study Student], please make 350 double-sided copies of the attached pdf, which is a blurry, photocopy-of-a-photocopy that has many intricate charts. Place it in my mailbox by noon today, please.    PS–staple in the top right corner; the copier staples in the top left, and as I am left-handed, this makes it harder for me to turn the pages.”

“Dear IT staff, I require personal assistance from you in configuring my Outlook E-mail. In particular, I want to change the font on my emails. I do not do well with technology instructions via email or telephone. Please send someone over ASAP.”

“Dear Blackboard admin., I accidentally deleted a whole column of student grades from the gradebook. I know I got prompt boxes that asked me if I was sure I wanted to delete, and something about unrecoverable files, but I just click ‘yes’ by default on those things anyway. Please go in and recover these files for me.   PS–You might be wondering what specific class I’m talking about. I am going to forget to include that information here.”

“Dear {Registrar}, Your previous message referred to a form I was supposed to submit last month for catalog revisions for my department’s courses. I don’t check email more than once a week, so I’m disappointed that no one delivered a hard copy to me so I could lose it and then request another one anyway. Can you hold the other catalog revisions while I perform this ritual several more times?”

“Dear [Junior Professor], I noticed you dismissed your 3 o’clock MWF class 5 minutes early last Friday. This is not departmental practice–we keep our students for the entire class in order to maximize the time we have to deliver our content. As a result of you violating an unwritten rule that you didn’t know about, a letter has been placed in your departmental file. Which you also don’t know about.”

“Dear student, I know you came by my office during office hours, but since no one ever comes by, I usually go get coffee at that time. You could leave me a voicemail, but I never erase messages, so my mailbox is full. Try emailing me–I will have an unhelpfully vague response to you by week’s end.”


I’m sure many of you have encountered these (sent these?) before. Oh, academe. You’re the gift that keeps on giving. Don’t ever stop.

10 Replies to “Every Type of Email College Faculty Send to Anyone”

  1. Dear Postdoc,
    Thanks for giving me the draft of your manuscript several weeks ago. I have some time at 730 this evening, during which I need you to sit in my office while I read it, in case I have any questions.
    FYI – if it’s not good enough for CNS, we probably shouldn’t bother.

  2. You forgot the one where after someone hits reply all, the next person also has to hit reply all to remind everyone not to hit reply all. And then at least five other emails come in response telling people to remove them from the DL followed by something terse about if their delete button isn’t working.

  3. Dear administrator, please send me the information you emailed me last week in response to my email requesting the information you sent me a week previously. I won’t read it, but will do my own thing anyway, then blame you for not giving me accurate advice when it all goes wrong.

  4. Oh, I <3 assessment, too. And committees to compile the report for the accreditation team. But you forget the following one:

    Dear Entire Faculty Mailing List,
    Let me ramble on about my wacko political opinions for several screens, using impressive words like "hegemony." Because this is a totally appropriate use of work email.
    Doddering Senior Professor

  5. Y’all, these are brilliant. I’m also convinced you’ve been snooping in my inbox… scary accuracy! 🙂

  6. I work as university support staff scheduling the classrooms. A few weeks ago a faculty member complained that his room had DVD capabilities rather than VHS.

    1. How dare you upgrade the technology!! (Was this person a historian? We’re notorious for our undying love of VHS.)

  7. [Graduate Student],

    [first email]
    It seems like you’ve adopted the strategy of asking for clarification on my comments on your qualifying paper point by point to try to wear me out. You keep saying things aren’t clear, and then saying you don’t understand. I don’t buy it!

    [second email]
    OK, I see you have sent me a number of screen shots that seem to demonstrate that I’m contradicting myself. That snippet where I’m asking you to cut a 4 page section by 5 pages has an alternative explanation that I’m not going to give. The graph that I told you to remove and then readd then remove otherwise I wouldn’t pass you, should *actually* really be in there. This is crystal clear. The appendix which I described as “extremely useful” in one draft and then “useless” in the next draft is really your fault. Oh, I see you have more examples of this- well these are all the result of you not being clear about the purpose of your paper. The whole paper should be framed in terms of the most general issue, but its too long so narrow the scope down.
    Stop sending me these emails, I honestly don’t remember my comments and I’m just trying to show how smart I am. I’m an editor of a prestigious journal. I know I said I would help you but I only said that because the graduate advisor was cced and I am obligated to.

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