Turn and Face the Strange Changes

I’ve written a fair bit about change.  How to manage unwelcome changes at your institution.  How to have conversations about making constructive changes.  The change as one school year rolls over into the next.

But this time change is personal.  I have a new position.  I have stepped down as chair of my department and assumed, at the invitation of my provost, an interim position as Director of a program at my university.  While it’s a change I was happy to embrace, it has not been easy.  First, I really loved being chair.  The job had its fair share of headaches, but I worked with great colleagues.  I was comfortable in my role and mapping new projects for the future.  Second, I am climbing a steep learning curve.  The program I am leading is mostly new to me.  I have a new (to me) staff and a lot to learn about the responsibilities and rhythms of the work this unit does.  Finally, I have, for the first time since I entered the profession almost twenty years ago, stepped away from my disciplinary affiliation.  This is a little disorienting.  Oh, and did I mention that this all happened in the second week of the semester after classes had already started?  Color me overwhelmed.

Despite this change, I’m still caught somewhere in the ranks of academic middle management, so I will keep blogging about the experience.  Shifting to a new role and learning a new job should provide plenty of fodder for reflection.  And what does it mean to be an “interim” anyway?  Navigating those waters will undoubtedly provide some lessons.  So stay tuned as I take up this new job and continue to ponder the challenges of academic management and leadership.

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