One of the pleasures of being married to a novelist is that I get to help out with the research sometimes. One of the books that Emily is working on now concerns a couple of disenchanted Classics professors. So one of the things we've been thinking about is what could be the most boring possible title for a prospective book manuscript, the attempted completion of which is so tedious and devoid of meaning that the professor in question is sometimes moved to tears. Right now we're toying with Funerary Inscriptions of the Transapline, Part III: The Constantian Inheritance. To be fair, this probably won't survive scrutiny by colleagues of mine who actually know something about life in imperial Rome. But it's a fun game even if you are not a specialist.
Another task is to think about behavioral archetypes of staff, administrators, faculty, and students. Usually writers just kind of set up their characters and then see what happens, but it can be helpful ahead of time to think in broad (and unfair!) terms about the kinds of people who populate a given milieu. Of course, once the instances of these archetypes are set up and going, then if you are really listening to the muse each fictional person's individuality will shine through in ways that problematize any course-grained set of archetypes. But it can help to start with such a picture.