head of department

Wow. I’m probably going to end up head of our (quite small) department from next week or so. There’ll be an election, but no other candidates. There simply isn’t anyone else who can do it right now. It’s going to be a challenging job I suspect, because the arts and humanities faculty is currently reorganising everything, so we’ll be going through some big changes in the next couple of years.

A few months ago I was seriously thinking that I’d quit my job sooner than be head of the department. From everything I’ve heard, the increased administration basically means I can forget research for the next couple of years. There’s no extra pay or extra research leave afterwards, either, as there is for some administration jobs. That doesn’t seem like a great way to start a research career.

But then you know, thinking about it, tenure’s a pretty groovy thing to have, and so far I haven’t come across a job I’d rather have, not one that’s in Bergen where I need to be, anyway. And I’m renovating my flat, and I like my salary, and… OK, I admit it: I’ve sold my soul. Lisbeth is head of her department, and enjoys it, though she admits it’s a lot of work. She pointed out that being head of department is good experience for future work leading research projects. I know I would hate to sit on the sideline during this process of change. And it’s a little department, which doesn’t, apparently, necessarily mean correspondingly less work.

I’m worried, though, that if I don’t get any research done for two years it will be very hard to get back. And no, I wouldn’t worry about that if I was considering maternity leave or a two year leave to explore India and learn paragliding. The thing is, I don’t know whether I’ll be happy doing a job that’s all administration and teaching. I signed up for the academia thing because I enjoy research. I enjoy teaching largely because it’s connected to my research and I love sharing that knowledge.

Of course, maybe I’ll love it. I’m good at organising things. And I love knowing how things really work and having a say in things. Perhaps I’ll get a taste for administration, decide research is boring and step from this to a high-flying corporate gig that pays four times what I get now, kissing academia goodbye forever. Or I’ll aim to be dean, no, president of the university, no, why stop there, I’ll be minister for education! Or perhaps I’ll enjoy it and be perfectly happy to return to research when I’m done.

20. January 2005 by Jill

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