Saturday, July 23, 2011
In my first administrative position, I had to plan and deliver orientations to incoming majors within a week of arrival. There is nothing more intimidating than trying to welcome students to a program where they actually know the university better than you do! I also had to develop advising lists for newly admitted students, reorganize a committee that was supposed to exist but never really met, and develop and staff a new satellite program, all in the first couple of months. It was a trial by fire, and I was glad to get to the next semester in one piece.
Now that I am once again starting a new, more senior, administrative position, I am re-learning that different tasks take precedence over unpacking boxes and prepping syllabi...Like finding out how to (a) locate online and (b) read the division's budget, proofing the accreditation documents that are going in under my name, reviewing personnel files, and figuring out the location of the division's policy documents. I am humbled that I am responsible for the fiscal accuracy, accreditation status, and personnel and academic practices of a division.
I will say that I am pleased by how natural I find the role. I have learned enough about how universities function that I can respond quickly to these new tasks. That said, it is still somewhat daunting how quickly these responsibilities kick in. As the new budget authority, I am asked to approve purchases and travel before I can even access the budget on my own. As division leader, I have to identify faculty to fill administrative roles, even though I only know most of them through my interview process. I have to schedule faculty meetings for the year, even though I don't really know the class schedule or the university calendar. I have learned to ask good questions, to take my time (because most things don't have a drop-dead deadline), and to seek out help when I need it. I am thankful for the strong staff and faculty who have answered my questions and helped make this transition a little easier.
I am also thankful for strong, supportive, SMART leaders in the roles above me. Having good people in these roles is such a pleasure, I barely know how to act! I have come away from my interactions with my supervisor impressed every time, which is a wonderful way to begin a new job.
When I was leaving my old job, people kept asking me if I was excited about the new job. I said yes, mostly because that is what they expected to hear, but in my heart of hearts, I was more reserved about the new position. I know how much remains unknown about a new job until one begins, and the real problems and challenges may take a while to emerge. And I didn't really know if I would like the job, the university, and the location. But so far, so good. I finished this week feeling truly excited about my new role.
The pace of acclimating to a new job rushes a little faster for new administrators on campus, I think, even when you start in the middle of the summer. I can only imagine what awaits when the students and faculty return and classes begin. That said, I think I am in the right place at the right time. I can only hope I will be able to say that a year from now.