TITLE: Re-Upping for Three Years
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: March 13, 2008 11:49 AM
as department head is over, and a couple of weeks ago the
dean asked me to serve a second three-year term. I
accepted. My first three years went quickly, and as time
passed my ideas for the department have evolved and come
into better focus. I welcome the opportunity to work with
the faculty to achieve them for three more years. Even
still, I told the dean that I miss having more time to do
computer science. Opportunities to teach and program are
more valuable to me than ever before.
When I became head, I thought that I would find myself
writing patterns to document my experience, but that has
not happened. I spent much of my first three years in
a bit of a haze, without any clear grasp on patterns of
success in management, leadership, promotion, and the
like. In retrospect, that isn't surprising, giving my
near-complete lack of experience in these areas before
Since re-upping, I have been thinking about some of the
things I have learned in my first three years. Here are
three. Maybe they will become parts of patterns at some
You have to be comfortable knowing and not doing.
I am something of a control freak and have had
to learn to let my secretary and other faculty do things.
For example, in today's world, technology makes it almost as
easy for me to do a lot of clerical work, but time spent
doing it is time not spent doing something else. On the
flip side, I can't let not doing something being a reason
not to know how to do it, or how it works. I need to be
able to fill in when the person responsible is gone, and
I have to understand how things work so that I can manage
budgets, re-engineer processes, and the like.
Talking is doing something.
I am a programmer, and I like to make measurable progress.
Like many folks who tend more toward introvert than extrovert,
I tend to prefer doing to talking about doing. This is so
even when I know intellectually the great importance of
communication. Three years as head have taught be in a
more visceral way the value of talking -- to faculty, to
administrators, to business leaders and legislators, and
to potential students and their patterns. The
stories we tell
to outsiders matter so very much. And the bonds we on the
faculty build among ourselves, and the bonds we nurture
between the head and the faculty, are essential to the
functioning of the team that is the department.
You can't not be
No matter how much or how well a department head tries to
communicate with the faculty in his or her charge, there
is likely always going to be someone for whom the head is
"the boss". Those relationships takes extra care, because
you need to work on being part of the team at the same time
you also work on being a good boss.
I hope that those are not the only things I have learned
in the last three years, but they are a start.