head of department, day 1

I just spent four solid hours head-of-departmenting, and my to-do list for tomorrow is still long as my arm. For tonight, too, actually. I haven’t even started on the teaching to-do list.

What heads of departments do? Well, today I’ve tried to understand the budget, I’ve had lots of people in my office, I’ve answered emails about issues ranging from booking a room at a time that suits other classes, accreditation for courses taken in Romania, contracts for MA students and a need for more shelves in the student labs, all the way through budgets and who’ll teach what next semester and preparing comments to a memo on how the administration might reorganise and ending up with basic discussions about the future of the discipline. The latter – the future, that is – has become rather an urgent question because the humanities faculty is reorganising in the next few months. Oh, I did twenty-five minutes of work for ELiNOR, as well (bills, getting the blog set up, email). Organising and preparing teaching comes in addition, of course, as does supervising MA students. And I’m supposed to be spending 50% of my time on research!

I’m paid to work a standard 37,5 hour week, that means 18 3/4 hours a week on research and 18 3/4 hours a week on teaching and administration. Of course there’s less teaching in summer, though advising and planning always needs to be done.

I’ve already started recording how much time I’m spending on what. I’m going to need to know when I ask the dean how to prioritise my time.

(Btw, I know lists of look-how-much-I-did-today are frightfully boring. Someone asked me, though, whether I would be blogging being head of deparment as I blogged getting my PhD, and so I thought I’d see what it would be like if I did. I’m not sure whether I’ll continue. There are a lot of things that can’t quite be blogged because noone quite knows yet and, well, you know. Stuff.)

31. January 2005 by Jill

Comments (7)

  1. Blogging being head of department would be a challenge. Research and teaching are both about production. Management is about cleaning house. “Today I sat in on three meetings, had a long conversation with a colleague about the facts of his work situation, and ended the day with yelling at the student administration office for asking me to do the same thing I have already done twice.” – It doesn’t invite originality. Actually, I have more original thoughts and ideas while cleaning house than while writing the 20th version of the bachelor study description.

    I have considered blogging the college reorganisation process, which is a very interesting, complex and productive process to take part in, but I will not. Basically because the process is so rife with controversy and our college so small that discussing it online could be considered breaking the trust of my colleagues.

    I give the same courtesy to the students, by not blogging the student democracy part of my job. While funny, descriptions of what goes on in some of the meetings could, after almost 14 years in this system, become so disillusioned it would border on harassment. Let’s just say one thing: Student study comittees are really weak on long-term (more than one semester) memory.

    Although now that I am writing this, I’d love to see how you deal with being head of the department at the University. I would have to blog the information education anonymously, because it would look like a bad, bitter sit-com. Think anybody would understand what college I was writing about if I did that?

  2. I think you should let your head rest for the head of the
    department job and enjoy a thrilling quiz-evening once in a
    while. perhaps tomorrow?

  3. Oooph… Sorry about that question about accreditation for courses taken in Romania 😉 I’m sorry, but I think you’ll hear from me again about that, but maybe you understood that :o) Hihi… Good luck with everything, you’ll manage, I’m sure!

  4. ‘blogging being head of department’ put more emphasis on LOG than WEB, I guess. That is, looking for trails, instead of insights. But I guess, depending on the trust network, it can be also a new way of being ‘head of department’: sharing, conversation, openness, distributed power and knowledge… But, for sure, as a ‘head’, some sort of ‘innocence’ is lost.

  5. Wow, so you actually became head of department. How cool! Congratulations! To protect your research time I think maybe it will be a good advice to stay completely away from work for shorter periods. I have had a 50/50 administration/research job for several years, and I often find it impossible to have any demanding research done without getting away from the everyday bustle. And a wireless week in a cottage can do marvels for your concentration… Good luck 🙂

  6. Looking forward to reading your “head of dept” blogging here!

  7. wanted to say congrads on your new position… i mean.. if congrads are in order…. I think they are.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *