The Happy Academic ponders not being on the job market and not being an administrator

This is the season in which folks start posting potential job searches to mailing lists, where folks start polishing up their CVs and making hotel reservations for MLA. Not me– not this year, and probably not ever again.

Never say never, of course. But since my wife has started on the tenure-track here at EMU, we’re probably here for the duration, for better or worse (and it is mostly for better).

I have to say that it is a somewhat odd feeling, though. My wife and I had been “on the market” pretty much since 1996; some years, we were somewhat casual about our searches, and in other years, like last year, we were very close to taking different jobs. But now that we’re settled, I’m merely a spectator and it is a weird sort of feeling. Good, but still weird.

Anyway, I started thinking about this in part because of the CHE article “The Sixth Time is the Charm,” by Esther “not her real name” Davis. Basically, Davis offers advice to current job seekers based on her own six years “on the market” in the social sciences. My and my wife’s experiences are pretty similar to Davis’.

Also in ths issue of the CHE is an article with the inviting title of “Crossing Over to the Dark Side” by Jean and George “real names” Dowdall. I think it’s a worthwhile piece for faculty like me to consider. Like many faculty who have been granted tenure, I have thought (albeit very briefly) about pursuing an administrative position. But this article simple re-confirms my reasons for not doing this. Among other things, the Dowdalls warn potential deans and other full-time adminstrators that moving from a faculty position to an administrative one means:

  • an “academic calendar change” (meaning that they expect administrators to show up every day during business hours, including the summer);
  • being required to work within a pretty strict system of supervisors and supervising;
  • having to work with people you don’t want to work with (though faculty have to do this, too); and
  • inevitably making some decisions that will piss some people off (my paraphrase there).

Oh yeah, one thing not mentioned in this article: the dress code changes– I mean, they don’t call them “the suits” for nothing.

There are some quasi-administrative positions within the English department– director of graduate studies or coordinator of the writing program, for example– that I wouldn’t mind doing. But being a full-time administrator? No, thanks.

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