One Bucket of Administration, coming up!

One explanation for not writing so much these past two weeks involves my election as vice-dean at my university. No, no, spare the congratulations. The election process was, um, strained. Although I had mentioned that I would not be adverse to the job, up until 5 minutes before the election meeting I assumed that another colleague would do the job.

There seemed to be a massive miscommunication. After an excruciatingly painful meeting, I ended up being handed a bouquet of flowers and shaking the vice president's hand, rather in shock.

What now? There don't seem to be user manuals for jobs like this.

Basically, the dean and vice-dean get blamed for everything that goes wrong. Their job is to organize the faculty (we currently have about 50 professors and over 2000 students at the faculty alone). However, they do get a say in what direction the university is headed. The question will be if anyone listens to what is said.

In a first meeting we were handed the list of matters pending. It is long, ugly, and incomplete. All the data seems to be in the heads of key people. WiseWoman's first job will be to get things on paper and organized, I suppose being a computer scientist will help.

The guy elected dean is extremely uncomfortable about my election. I don't know if it is because I have bad breath or because I bitch a lot openly and vocally about illogical things happening around school, or if it is just that pesky XX chromosome pair I wear. Time will tell. We haven't divided up the duties yet, the choices seem to be vertical (each has his/her own topics) or horizontal (I attends all functions and meetings he doesn't have time for or/doesn't want to attend). At least he CCs me on the emails currently flying around.

At the university summer festival I got some good advice from some past deans:

  • Learn to manage conflicts (I am signing up for a course!)
  • Remember to talk about "we" and "us" (as a faculty) and not "me"
  • Listen to what people are really saying
  • Keep your mouth shut at work - rant at home. I suppose this will mean no ranting on blogs, either, although I see that some modern deans actually communicate via blog - not a bad idea, actually, if one keeps it positive and doesn't lambast people
  • Learn the legal basis of the job cold
  • Be brave enough to protest when you see that your department is being short-changed.
I suppose that is good advice for anyone in management. It will be an interesting time, that's for sure!

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