August 24, 2011 3 Comments
This morning was my first department meeting as departmental chair. I was so nervous. I wanted to set the tone off correctly and give the department the impression that I was competent and capable in my new role.
I started by talking about change. Our University is/has been undergoing a lot of change. Our department has more new faculty members than old, the department has lost a major in the last year, and the University itself is looking for a new president and we’re in the process of creating a new core.
I then talked about how changes and challenges are not times to be afraid of, but times to embrace what we can do as a department. Our focus shouldn’t be on the problems of things we can’t change, but on the hope and effort towards things we can make an impact on: Our majors, our department, our building, our students.
I then encouraged the department to spend some time in the next two weeks brainstorming what small or large thing they can do to get towards their ideal department. Whether it be spending a few hours painting a wall or a few days redesigning a course or perhaps even trying to optimize an entire major’s curriculum or spending a day a week in outreach to local high schools.
The general idea is that the past should be lessons to us, but shouldn’t be anchors that hold us down. We can learn from, respect and acknowledge the past, but it is the future that we can change and the future that we can build.
My first department meeting was two hours long. I think I succeeded. Only time will tell.