Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ex cathedra

Yesterday I made a decision that is bound to please several large groups of people on campus while displeasing one or two people within my department, and this morning I was fretting over the possible fallout, but one of my fellow department chairs reassured me: "Do what you have to do! You're the chair!"

He's right, of course: I'm the chair. But when the complaints start coming in, I need something more substantive to say than "I'm the chair! Get over it!" For one thing, I don't want to sound like an unreasonable parent ("Because I'm the mom, that's why!"), and for another, the decision solves a particularly sticky scheduling problem (therefore allowing a large group of seniors to graduate on time) by shifting one of my courses to an adjunct, therefore freeing me from teaching freshman composition next semester. To an outside observer unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes struggles that led to this decision, it could look as if I'm just trying to get out of teaching a class everyone in my department teaches. It looks as if I'm abusing the chair's powers for my own benefit, and that's a message I don't want to send, particularly if it's accompanied by "Because I'm the chair and I said so!"

I'll just have to face it: while this decision looks really good from most angles, from one particular angle it looks selfish. But there was no possible solution for this problem that would have made everyone happy, so I guess I'll have to settle for minimizing the number of unhappy people. I can do that. After all, I'm the chair.

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