head of department, day 242
Phew. Got the course previews (studieplaner) for next semester all sorted out, I think, and voted through in the department meeting yesterday. I’m becoming proficient, I think. I knew the answers to all sorts of things. “If you label that a compulsory assignment instead of assessment it will simplify our administrative burden hugely without changing what you want to do.” “No, the point is that we need to have a digital archive that allows us find a particular student’s digital portfolio exam in HUIN105 spring 2002 in case someone asks us for it in December 2009.” That sort of thing. Actually I’m still not quite sure why or who might ask us for Knut Knutsen’s exam in 2009, but we’re required to keep confidential records of exams for ten years. The students have three weeks after the grades are awarded to complain and request regrading by a new committee, so obviously we have to keep their exams that long. Why ten years, though? Maybe it’s for the national committees that are supposed to periodically survey grading around the country to ensure it’s more or less equivalent.
It felt rather strange leading the meeting perfectly knowledgeably. Almost everyone looked rather bored, to be honest, and yes, while these details are important in sum, I totally see the boredom. That’s probably why the university democracy doesn’t work, actually. Most decisions are so dull that people disengage or don’t show up – but of course real change happens as a result of these many, many small and dull decisions.
But I’m getting the hang of it, and while the juggling still exhausts me (and oh dear, things keep slipping through) there is a certain pleasure in feeling that I know how this works. Well, how quite a lot of it works. And I like knowing how things work.
Day 242, that’s ages. Having checked how many days I’ve been head of department, I had to also check how many days I have left. One year and 273 days. I’ll be an expert.