Musical chairs

Year two of being department chair has found me worrying less about being department chair, which has been nice. The care and feeding of the new people is a big piece of the job, which makes me wonder what it would be like not to have new faculty to deal with. We have had at least one new faculty member every year since I started working at SA: Dorothea and Viola, Maddie, Romola, Dinah, Orsino and Sebastian, and then the three new people this year.  Of those, Maddie and Viola are the only ones I’ve seen both come and go–I actually saw Viola do it twice, since she came, taught for three years, was home for a year with her baby, taught part-time for one more year, then left. (She had a long commute, which made the part-time work less doable, and she wanted to have a second baby–she’s pregnant now.)  Maddie only stayed a year and then went back to her Ph.D. program; she’s now an assistant professor at a public research university in the South.

The people I’ve seen leave include Elinor (husband’s new job in another state); another really good teacher I never wrote about here (new job closer to her home); the sixth-grade teacher who moved to an administrative position; and Alpha, the only one whose contract wasn’t renewed.  We’ve hired more people than we’ve lost, and the department is larger than it was when I came.  We’ve also had parts of our faculty’s schedules commandeered by different programs; for example, journalism was until quite recently taught by a staff member, and now it’s part of Dinah’s courseload, and another teacher I have never pseudonymed teaches mostly film.  And Lucinda, as I’ve mentioned, is teaching just two courses now.

As I look around this year, and watch the new folks get settled in, I think the most likely source of change for next year is that Romola might get pregnant and have a baby.  That would be a good thing, of course, and depending on whether she leaves altogether or just takes a leave, we might not absolutely have to make a new hire.  I think I would consider myself lucky if that’s the only disruption to our deployment next year!  It will probably be more complicated than that, though.

Why am I thinking about this now, when there is so much to think about that’s more immediate?  (I think I just answered my own question.)

3 responses to this post.

  1. I think you did just answer your own question!

    I’ve thought more than once that it would probably be much easier to be department chair this year than it was last year — I would be in my second year, we don’t have any new teachers in the department this year, and the two major curriculum changes that we did last year are moving along quite nicely, with no such innovations planned for this year. I certainly wound up with a difficult first year to be chair, which undoubtedly soured me on the whole experience, so it’s nice watching from afar as you have your second year in the gig.


  2. […] spoke with a high school director from the other side of town who is interviewing Viola for a mid-year replacement position and told him how great she is as a teacher and colleague. […]


  3. […] who had one last week (a while in the making, not quite on the timeline she anticipated when I first mentioned the possibility)–return to school full-time in August.  Each says that’s her plan, but […]


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