I have been thinking quite a bit over this last year about university administrators–what makes someone a good one and what traits typify administration you best stay away from at all cost. Knowing the structure of your administration and your admin in general can be quite important–some kind deanly types may be willing to spend out an account on your lab at certain times of the year, and these slush funds can prove extremely useful for generating novel or new data. Making a connection with admin types that may be helpful to you personally seems like a useful way to spend your time. And by admin I mean those that make critical decisions about running the university. You know, these types (from Wiki):
Academic administration is a branch of university or college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty or academics, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities. Some type of separate administrative structure exists at almost all academic institutions, as fewer and fewer schools are governed by employees who are also involved in academic or scholarly work. Many administrators are academics who have advanced degrees and no longer teach or conduct research actively.
Not talking about staff here although these people are just as important to know.
I’m curious about the characteristics of administrators that differentiate the really good ones from the so-so and the insufferable. It strikes me that making the decision to move from academic to more administrative should come from a desire to help people make things happen. To truly support endeavors and ideas and to be emotionally able to prop people up. Thus, such people should be open to new ideas, willing to listen, able to look beyond their ego to see diamonds and pearls amongst the other shiny objects, and to be kind and yet decisive.
In my limited experience–luckily I have generally experienced and gotten to know admin types that I would consider *good* administrators–I see bad admin decisions coming from those that are in admin roles for power. Or so goes my opinion. Those sorts who are more ego-driven then willing or able to support other people’s awesomeness.
What do you think? What are the personal traits of bad administrators?
When all is said and done I will write a blog post about interviewing tips. Such as, ProTip #35: Do not punch the motherfucker that obviously did not pass sophomore genetics and after your seminar keeps insisting you did not do a particular control when in fact you did; and, Protip #89: When the very old dude sexually harasses the wait staff, nods knowingly at the woman in the fur coat and says conspiratorially ‘That’s what we call high-maintenance’ to you under his breath, it is time to get drunk, because, you will not be taking this job and you might as well yuck it up.
Dr. Rad realized a bit ago that her job just wouldn’t do and there were things that HAD TO CHANGE. She is now in the nebulous time of negotiations, counter offers and waiting to hear from other searches. It’s going to be interesting.
I’ve recently discovered Mumford and Sons. Their new album is pretty amazing. I needed some high-energy happy-dance music. Happy things are forthcoming.
One of the reasons grad school was a great time in my life was because I was surrounded by my people. I somehow cultivated an amazing crew of friends from my program, and I feel like these people are lifers. I haven’t been as astute about keeping in touch as I should with some–a baby, a new TT job, smoothing over rough patches with said job–these things take concentration, and time. Recently I found out that one of my grad school friends has a pretty damn serious disease and likely a very shortened life-span as a result. I’m not really sure what to do with this sadness, so, I’m listening to Dar Williams, changing the laundry, figuring out when I can visit. There is nothing else to be done right now.
Rad has been home with Mom and Dad Rad for the week taking care of Dad Rad following major surgery. Dad Rad is in his seventies, still a large man, generally healthy, but was in need of a new knee. Mom Rad had surgery a few months ago herself and has not returned to normal. So, Dr Rad packed up, left the lil ones at home with MrDr Rad and subsequently has been enjoying the best sleep she’s had the last six or so years. Wow. Sleep. And I’ve been getting some work done. Not as much as I’d like, but enough to get some projects moving into the writing stage. This, of course, between episodes of driving to WalMart for pills and various unnecessary objects. WalMart. I had not been in one of these box stores in almost three years.
I had been feeling pretty down in the past few days regarding this chicken thing. I’m assuming you do not live under a rock and know what this is about. If not, see here and here. And here. Here. I could continue, but instead I’ll assume you know how to work the Google. Even Dad Rad does.
Fig1. A chicken.
I seem to have two diametrically positioned groups of ‘friends’ on Facebook — those that registered hurt from seeing people gleefully run to the closest Chick-Fil-A and those that gleefully ran to the store or else said they would. My friends of the hurt-sort were mostly friends from college and/or graduate school. The other camp were comprised of the few people that I can still remember from high school and, of course, members of my close family or friends of the family. I fought a little on Facebook (ie I pissed into the wind) and then decided to work off some aggression at what turned out to be the best spinning class I’ve attended in I don’t know how long.
Interestingly, the woman running the class, who happened to be an elementary school teacher (and had the intense southern drawl of my natal home site) passed out the following, hand-written on a piece of wide-ruled paper, to everyone in the class:
Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones would would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.
Her handwriting was childish–clear, but looked as if it could have been written by a 10-year old. The sentiment was so sweet, simple, absolutely true. I have no idea how this particular spin instructor ‘feels’ about, you know, ‘chicken.’
Fig2. This isn’t a spin bike.
However, in line with the above sentiment, I can say that I have always had gay friends. I did not know any openly gay friends in high school, but in college, many or most of my friends either identified as gay or certainly were not afraid of teh gay. Some of my currently closest friends are gay. These gay friends are my family–the ones that were hurt, and continue to be hurt, by this ridiculous war sponsored by one of the largest consumers of chicken products in this country.
Fig3. Chikkin is Amerikun
Currently, I live in the luxury of not having to defend my lifestyle from crazed right-wingers that insist marriage is between a man and a woman. Currently, I do not have to experience hatred from my relatives since I am married to a man. But this strange war with the chicken mascot affects me, since I’ve never been exactly straight. Call it what you will, scoff all you want–but I predict that should I divorce, I will not be skulking about the ‘Woman seeking Men’ section of Craig’s list. I doubt this would be a shocking revelation to Mom Rad, who used to worry that I was a ‘dyke.’ Dad Rad would not take it well, and our relationship would become more complicated than it is already. I’m certainly not hiding in a heteronormative relationship; I love my husband, he knows I’ve had a girlfriend or two in my past and he absolutely does not care. I cannot fathom why people would get themselves so worked up about my sexuality–even though I disclose it here, it is a personal aspect of my life. Why the protest at the local Chick-Fil-A? Why does this topic so enrage people that they will, hilariously, sit in a fast-food line for an hour or so?
There are two roundabout points I am trying to make–one, I want people that are gay who feel singled out and hated right now to know that they have allies. I glitter-bombed my Facebook feed as much as I could. And two, my family includes the people that accept me and love me. Your family is what you make it.
This scenario recently occurred near my campus.
Police are investigating an assault that occurred in the 200 block of XX Street around 1:30 AM on June 16. A group of female students walking on XX Street was approached by a group of males. Comments of a sexual nature were made by several of the male suspects, and one suspect began touching one of the females. When she pushed the suspect away, he and a second male both struck the female. The victim required medical attention for facial lacerations. Bystanders intervened in the assault, and the victim’s friends drove her to seek medical attention.
This shit happens at least every week. Near the campus that I work, or, on campus. Every week folks. Every fucking week.