Dr Burak Papadopoulou is gloomily sitting in his office while our AUM News Weekly reporter is interviewing him. He has been reading the kuwaitbusinessreview.com article about his beloved institution and he is not 100% sure the article covered professors’ workplace satisfaction levels during the past few weeks. In his high-tech office, Dr Papadopoulou has a phone, a computer screen and a computer. “
“I do not like this screen,” Dr Papadopoulou confesses, “Look, my neighbor has a bigger screen. What is this? Does it mean he will be promoted? Or does it mean I will be terminated? Last time, when a friend of mine changed his office, they put him a smaller screen and two weeks later he was out.”
But what about the globally competitive syllabus that you are teaching, Dr Papadopoulou? Does it not satisfy your professors’ needs?
“Not at all. First of all, when I came here, I came for the lakes and the palm trees. I was given a campus tour and they showed me the Starbucks. Back then there was a Starbucks. Now, it is gone. I believe every resort-style campus should have a Starbucks of its own, preferably in the library. Now we all have to go to Al Arabia mall during the breaks. As for the syllabus, they told me I had to make it simple to fit the mini-academic activities and the academic activities days. So now I teach them how to add numbers from Week 1 to Week 4, and then I have some free practice. But I don’t feel fully satisfied… no.”
But, surely, you must do some “applied research and a focus on providing Kuwait with scientific and economically significant value and graduates of the highest caliber”? They say, this is Kuwait’s “oasis of learning”.
Yes, yes. I went to a conference in Dubai but we got sidetracked with the drink in the hotel. I could not go to the conference in Germany because Dr Rma said I have to get a ticket Kuwait – Lebanon – Greece – Lebanon – Sri Lanka – Canada – Kuwait, passing through Istanbul. You know, this Turkish wave I am not sure about, so I thought, let me cancel this conference. He did not approve my article on the significance of the love call of the bushtit bird because it was culturally inappropriate. I told him it’s a real bird but he is in Engineering. Knows nothing about bushtits.
But they say 7000 students are currently enrolled! That must, surely, make you happy?
No. I am a negativist by conviction, although I am hiding it. What I don’t like about the 7000 students is that now they are here, there is no space for us left. It’s student next to student next to student. In my class, they are sitting on top of one another. It’s a problem, you see. I have this class of 100 students. Before the proctoring rules changed I got to proctor them all by myself. I could not even enjoy myself. You know, usually exams time is when you get lots of fun – unfair allocation of hours, coming on Saturdays, overtime with no pay. But now, the colleagues don’t want to discuss this. They got scared about something and nobody hangs out anymore. I think I will get the summer money and maybe go. But I haven’t decided yet.
So if you could talk to a potential employee or student, what would you tell them?
Listen, the place is not 100% resort-like these days. There is too much going on all the time. There needs to be a balance between too much and too little. Look how my neighbor over there got kicked out. Spent here two years; scratched his armpit under the camera the other day. They told him to remove one of the visitors chairs in his office because university policy says you only should have one chair apart from your own in your office. If you get two or more, it means you are promoted. So they told him – “remove extra chair”. He asked “Why?” and HR called him, and he got kicked out. They told me to learn from his mistakes. So I am not saying anything about this screen. Just waiting to get summer salaries, then see if I get into Sharja. We have all applied there. Dr Henrique says they are real nice there. Do you know Dr Henrique? The math guy with the big head? Yea, that one, who got kicked out for…
This is where our reported left Dr Papadopoulou. One of his neighbors says he is still talking to himself. “It must be the stress,” he confided. “The place is not fully resort-like like it used to be.”