I just withdrew from a book project I was excited about because there literally aren’t enough hours in the day to write the article they’d asked me to write. Realistically, I should withdraw from at least two other projects, too, but damn it, I promised and I’ve got so far on them.

Quite often, being head of department stinks. Hours and hours and hours on scanning letters I have to consider whether to act on, writing reports, organising teaching, fighting for the future of our department and for the jobs of my colleagues. And yet what I’m trained for, and what I’ll be promoted on the basis of, is research and to some extent teaching.

Yes, I’m angry.

I think I’m entitled to a semester’s sabbatical next year (yes I know, the basic rules are great, a semester after three years, and I know lots and lots of colleges and universities have far higher teaching loads than we do and no sabbaticals: but we’re supposed to be a research university, promotion is based almost solely on publication), but the rules are such that you can’t actually GET the sabbatical unless your department can cover your workload. If I’m on sabbatical, there are only 1.5 tenured teachers here to look after our 150-200 students. Plus lots of temporarily employed and very skilful teachers, the students would do OK, but how the heck would the tenured staff manage?

And yeah, as head of department it’s possible I could have helped myself in this situation, only I don’t yet know exactly how. Maybe I should ask my peers to vote that the head of department should get a research assistant or something.

5 thoughts on “when administration sucks

  1. Toril

    Jill, sometimes (even quite often) it is GREAT to be just a student, but the hard
    work you are constantly putting behind you is admireable!! And I fully understand the
    need for a sabbatical year, although we certainly NEED you here, so please hang in
    there 🙂

  2. AndrÈ-S-C

    It sucks. And it seems to be everywhere. In the latest article at DesignObserver they (designers) whinge about interfering clients etc, but the only way to avoid that is to play politics and commerce to ensure you have some clout, in other words doing everything except being a designer in the strict sense of the word ñ think its this way in most professions, sooner or later promotion and or success means or requires a departure from what you do into the abysmal vortexes of administration and politics :- (

  3. Jill

    I’ve suspected most professions might have similar problems. It seems rather a dismal view though, if life is all suppposed to be like this…

    Oh, obviously there are things I’m really happy about at work too. Sure.

  4. Patrik


    I am sure you will manage to get as much promoted as is possible academically (full professor or whatever) even if being a department head makes it slower. Another way of looking on this is that the adminstrative/management work you do actually opens the door to other kinds of future careers. For instance, if you were to become your university’s vice chancellor, I am sure your proven leadership qualities and administrative experience would be important (as well as being a professor by then). Also, fighting for the future *is* important.

  5. Jill

    Why thanks, Patrik. And I sort of assume that if I stick around in academia for the next thirty odd years I’ll make full professor sooner or later. I suppose there’s no need to be impatient.

    Except, well, yeah, leveling up gets addictive 🙂

    I’m not really angry any more. More kind of planning. And looking forward to the weekend…

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