Sorry for the many delays. I haven’t had time to write blog posts about being an administrator because, well, I’ve been too busy being an administrator. My time as Discipline Coordinator is coming to an end, and I wish to reflect upon this time.
This past semester has given me a much different perspective on academia, and after 15 years in this field I didn’t think that was possible. For one thing, I read even more articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and I can talk about assessment, MOOCs, budgets, and town-gown relations with much more precision and understanding than before. For another, I see the behind-the-scenes battles and have a much better perspective on the struggles between faculty and administrators, administrators and staff, students and faculty, and music programs and everyone else. (Just kidding – sort of – on that last one.)
I truly get the concept of “shared governance” for the first time. Here at UMM, we have what is known as Campus Assembly. Instead of a Faculty Senate (though we do send a few representatives to the main UM Faculty Senate in the Twin Cities), our governance body consists of the entire faculty, a good hunk of the staff, members of Student Government, and the upper echelons of administration. In some ways it’s frustrating (we’re academics, so we love to hear ourselves talk), but it really does place ownership of the governance process in everyone’s hands. It’s not perfect, and there are some changes I’d like to see, but it has opened my eyes.
Finally, I believe this experience has improved my own teaching and research/creative work. Now that I have a better perspective on what the tenure process here is like, I can take what I do and fine-tune it to better fit that particular process. Again, after 15 years I did not think I really could change all that much, but now I know I can.
I have been fortunate to work with great colleagues in the UMM Music Discipline, as well as a grand mentor in Mike Korth, Associate Professor of Physics, a solid Division of Humanities chair in Pieranna Garavaso, Professor of Philosophy, and a Dean who has given me many wonderful opportunities in Bart Finzel. I thank everyone who helped – especially my long-suffering wife – and I thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Stay tuned for the sequel.