How to learn zookeeping skills
March 17, 2011 9:21 PM Subscribe
I am most likely going to be made the chair of an extremely dysfunctional academic department in a few years. How can I best prepare for this position?
posted by anonymous to human relations (17 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Due to old, seething, somewhat inexplicable faculty feuds, the department at the R1 research university where I just started working is very tense. When other people on campus hear where I work, they gasp because everyone has heard of the crazy. Our meetings usually degenerate into situations where everyone is staring uncomfortably at their shoes, waiting for the cringeworthy bickering to end.
I've been able to keep my head down so far, so none of the animosity has been directed towards me. I think that many of the faculty members see me as the sane 'hope for the future' and want me to be chair as soon as I am eligible. This is clearly less than ideal for me--I pictured having at least one productive decade before taking on such an arduous kind of service, but I don't foresee having much control over that now.
I'm a good researcher and teacher, but I really haven't done anything all that managerial for over a decade now, and I've never had to do anything remotely like this. I have a few years to prepare, which is somewhat reassuring. What should I do to prepare myself to do this job as effectively as I can? Read Machiavelli? Read Robert's rules of order?