Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dean Radagast?

During the hectic final few days of last week (which ended with me falling asleep on the couch less than 15 minutes after arriving home on Friday), one of my colleagues called me into his office, sat me down, and closed the door. Now that I'm chair, I've learned that such behavior is rarely a good sign.

Said colleague proceeded to talk about all the things I was doing for the department and college, and how he was concerned about me burning out. Said colleague reported that he felt I was doing a good job as chair, and said I seemed to like the administrative elements of being chair (ed. note: I guess that's a benefit of blogging anonymously). He proceeded to suggest that I should consider being a dean.

He was not joking.

Regular readers will note that being dean did not pop up in my plan for the future. While I don't mind doing some administrative work (and even, gasp, enjoy some of it), spending all my time on administration, politics, and finances (at this level) has very little appeal. Watching our dean grind his knuckles to the bone futilely fighting for our division (and never being able to get enough support for it) is saddening; most of his job is composed of dealing with complaints from disaffected faculty, students, staff, and higher-level administrators. Reading Dean Dad's blog also does relatively little to encourage one to go into administration; while it's a great blog, I don't want his job.

So, I'll take my colleague's recommendation as a huge compliment, and kindly say no. After all, if I were dean, I couldn't argue that fiddling with open-source course management systems, spending hours in libraries reading journals, or blogging about biology were all at least somewhat related to my job. I went into this career because I want to share what I know about biology with others, not to manage others who do.

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