Friday, September 20, 2013

Change is good

What I've so long wished for is finally happening: the first year program is out of my hands! I am in the 7th year of my 3-year term as chair, and have spent Fall of each of the past five years asking the dean who will take over and how I can help her/him transition. I've had my chance to develop something and improve it, I said, but the college and its resources have changed, and I'm a little burned out. The program needs fresh ideas; there's a reason chairs' terms are capped at two 3-year terms. But year after year the dean's office found no replacement and I, with increasing reluctance, agreed to stay on for "one last year." So this is good news. Movement at last! And a college-wide discussion framed in excitingly broad terms. Not "how do we do what we've been doing better" but "what should we do?" Not "what is the best first year program
for us?" but "why do we need a first year program at all?" Of course letting go isn't that easy. These broad questions are ones I tried in vain to get people to engage year after year - everybody seemed to content simply to entrust the program to me without learning anything about what I was doing with it or why - but it turns out I'm more invested in the curriculum I wound up building than I thought I was. I suppose that's not a bad thing - it'd be a sorry state if the chair of a program couldn't care less about the program he was directing! But I'm finding it makes me prickly and proprietary when I mean to be collegial. It took a conversation with a friend who's a dean at another school to make me realize that I need to let go and get out of the way.

(The photo of is of what was St. Vincent's: parts of the old facade are being maintained, but the building has been gutted and will be rebuilt.)

No comments: