If you are a reader who is not a dean but you are thinking about becoming one, a question I’d pose is this: “do you like meetings?” If not, you may want to drop a deanship from the list of possibilities, as we attend a ton of them. I have to admit that I not only like meetings, I love them! Well, the ones that are productive anyway, which is usually the case for the vast majority, luckily. There is a certain energy generated by connecting with others to explore ideas and check off items from to-do lists!
Today I have my first “Chairs, Directors, and Dean Group” (CDDG) meeting, where the dean’s assistant and I will meet with all of the department and program heads. When an associate dean is selected s/he will be present at these meetings too. At today’s initial meeting I’ll also strongly suggest the formation of a “Council of Heads” (CoH), where the heads will meet monthly without the deans. While a department chair at the University of Minnesota I attended monthly meetings with the deans, and monthly meetings with just the other chairs, so I’ll try to replicate that structure here at UW-P. Both types of meetings can be valuable, as in the CoH meetings the heads can discuss requests from the dean group, create initiatives to present to the dean group, and share best practices about unit administration, and in CDDG meetings we will discuss dean group ideas, engage initiatives from central administration, and discuss CoH suggestions. I’ll also meet at least once a month with each head to hear unit concerns and ideas, and engage in two-way mentoring: I’ll learn as much from them as they do from me!
Interestingly, one type of meeting format that I do not like much is the retreat. I don’t know exactly why…maybe because too much is usually crammed into them, and the temptation is to try to solve everything in one shot vs. beginning an on-going conversation? So today’s initial CDDG gathering is a 3-hour mini-retreat where we have some action items to decide immediately, but it also includes many other kickoff processes that we’ll engage over the academic year. The meeting is on campus, which also decreases the chances of it being viewed as a special activity. I’ll probably have to do a “real” retreat sometime in the future, but I’m confident that the mini-retreat will kickstart productive CDDG meetings.
Speaking of kickstarting, one topic on today’s agenda is the possibility of launching a kickstarter campaign to fund an idea. Stay tuned for more 411!