Friday, September 14, 2007

Five reasons I miss being a dean, and ten reasons I don't

I was listening to one of my colleagues, Tuan Samahon, present a draft of his latest paper today, and I realized how much I enjoyed the whole experience: hearing someone present something intriguing, listening to other colleagues' questions about the topic, etc. That realization, in turn, led me to come up with a list of five reasons I miss being a dean, which are outweighed by at least ten reasons that I don't miss it.

Five reasons I miss being a dean:
  1. The schedule was fast-paced and interesting.
  2. I believe that I had a (good) effect on the schools' trajectories--that I made a (positive) difference. Sometimes now I wonder if I'm making a difference. I never wondered that as a dean.
  3. I was able to use some of my lawyering skills while still staying an academic.
  4. I enjoyed talking and thinking about legal education (I still do!), and I enjoyed spending time with policymakers for legal education.
  5. I really had a great time with most of my fellow administrators and staffers.

Ten reasons I'm glad I'm not a dean:

  1. I get to decide how I allocate my work time, and for the most part, my work is "all about me"--my research interests, my teaching interests, and my service interests.
  2. I no longer know what goes into the "sausage" of certain policy decisions--and I don't know that much about my colleagues' quirks.
  3. I can stay in touch with those alumni and others with whom I enjoyed a real friendship, but only with those folks.
  4. Any and all problems with, inter alia, parking, budget, facilities, natural disasters, travel, and health scares may eventually affect me, but they aren't part of my daily worries any more.
  5. I can get to know more students, and in more capacities, than I used to.
  6. My schedule is, essentially, my own, and my deadlines involve my own scholarship and not university matters.
  7. I get to wear jeans again. A lot.
  8. I can go on TV and radio and say what I really think without also worrying if I'll have to answer directly to a provost, president, or donor. Cf. Erwin Chemerinsky's near-disaster with UC-Irvine. Thank goodness he's well out of that situation.
  9. Working on a couple of committees, even the time-consuming ones, beats all heck out of being invited to meetings just because someone wanted the dean to be there.
  10. I can now take the time to go to my colleagues' presentations and actually listen to them instead of having to juggle a calendar that's truly impossible to survive.

Let's just say that I'm as happy as I can remember being as an adult. Bravo to those people who are deans, associate deans (what a thankless job!!!), and assistant deans--they deserve kudos for their many sacrifices (as do their friends and families).

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