Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Seeing beyond Point B

We've been doing telephone interviews with candidates for a job in the English Department, and several of them have asked a question I don't know how to answer: "What is your vision for the future of the English department?"

I probably shouldn't admit this out loud, but I'm not sure I have a vision for the future of the English department. In fact, I'm not really a visionary kind of person. I'm pretty good at doing what it takes to get from Point A to Point B, provided that Point B is a clearly defined and reachable goal; however, seeing beyond Point B has always been a challenge.

If I try to envision the department's future, I picture happy faculty members passionately pursuing their research interests while mentoring a growing crop of intelligent and creative English majors. It's difficult to get more specific than that. I suppose I could say that I envision a group of majors disinclined to murder their classmates, but that's a goal every department shares, if not every rational human being. My vision statement could be summed up like this: Let's all just learn some stuff, okay?

If I were a real administrator, I would devote a lot of time to coming up with visions and missions and goals and objectives and plans to assess all these things, and I would have a clear and reasonable response when candidates asked for my vision for the future of the department. Instead, I'm focusing on getting from Point A to Point B, and if we can all just learn some stuff along the way, I'll be content.

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