So, I’ve taken on an administrative role in my department beginning July 1st. I will be serving as an associate chair for a year.
Today was a real test of my new role. When I went in this morning – after taking yesterday off – I was immediately met with a series of new issues. Good thing I grabbed the grande latte with extra shot on my way into my office this morning.
I spent the whole day solving problems (or trying to solve problem – this is a more accurate description), answering emails and calls from advisors, students, and faculty. As a faculty member, I had almost never used my phone – except to call my colleagues to see if they wanted to have lunch together. My phone was working overtime today. I handle advising issues (placement issues) as well as student complaints or concerns. I support adjunct faculty – especially during the summer when most of our 10-month faculty are not on campus. I am working to make sure our classes are staffed for the fall.
This new experience is gradually opening my eyes to the complex process through which an institution of higher learning works. I’m in awe of how many different people on campus it takes to get a student into and through college – and I’m proud of the work that we do. However, this also means that each person on campus, whether or not they come in direct contact with a student – advisors, financial advisors, office staff, technical support, faculty and so on – can influence the students’ success or failure at the college. This is a huge responsbility that all of us should keep in mind.
Stepping into this role is certainly showing me once again that teamwork between the two “houses” – between student services and academics and between staff and faculty (roles that are sometimes unfairly characterized as rivals) – is CRITICAL to our students’ success. A student’s college experience is not just about the classroom or the coursework, and I think us faculty have to really remember that. It takes a village (and then some!) to teach a student.