As I have noted earlier, I am going to be on sabbatical next semester. With my decision to take that leave came my resignation from my current administrative position. I was very pleased to step down from this position, as I feel that I have implemented important projects, initiated improvements in policy and process, and shepherded the program through some difficult and challenging times. The program is running well, and students are succeeding in record numbers. The program is ready for some new blood, and I believed that I am ready for a new challenge.
I applied for another administrative post in my university, to start after my sabbatical had ended, but alas, that was not to be. So, after the sabbatical, I will be returning to faculty.
Since resuming the faculty role was not really my plan, I was initially quite put out about my new fate. I realize that I am losing my chance to: (1) change things that need changing in the department, (2) create new opportunities for students and colleagues to succeed, and (3) gain additional administrative experience that will help me continue to move up to higher administrative posts. And with the pitiful job market and the prospect of an approved sabbatical on the horizon next year, I am not much inspired to look for a new job on another campus.
Therefore, I am having to rethink my approach to my job and my personal goals. It hasn't been easy, but I have found that a return to faculty can be exciting in many ways. Let me count them:
1. I can work at home again, accommodating my own preferred sleep schedule and accomplishing way more writing than I seem to be able to manage in my office. Before I took the administrative position, I worked at home 2-3 days a week. Once I took on the administrative role, I was in the office/on campus 4-5 days a week.
2. I will have amazing amounts of (meeting-) free time, especially as my committee calendar is cleared for the sabbatical. Of course, committee assignments and requests will resurface, but it will take time to pile up, I am sure. And all of the extra meetings I attended because of my administrative role will be gone! (Now, of course, "free time" really translates to time for work, but that sorta feels like free time to me. I know... it is sick, but true.)
3. I will not have to make the difficult calls regarding students and instructors. In my current job, I am the person who has to recommend that students delay graduation, leave the major, or leave the university; I also recommend which instructors teach which courses, and which instructors should not be asked to teach again. As you can imagine, it isn't much fun. At some point, I thought a large part of my administrative role was handing tissues to crying students. While these are important functions, I never enjoy giving someone bad news, and I am happy to let someone else do that for a while.
4. I can focus on my research and writing again. I was lucky enough to get some good research and writing done during my tenure as an administrator, but my productivity lagged far behind my prior record when I was only serving as a faculty member. Perhaps with the additional time and focus, I can accomplish enough in the next few years to get a promotion to full professor.
And I cannot help but recognize that becoming a full professor would allow me to apply for more senior positions in departmental, college, and central administration, which has always been my ultimate goal. So, while I am taking a small detour from my intended route, the journey hopefully leads to the same place.