A Personal Preface: Reflections on
Five Years in a Dean's Office
"I made some studies, and reality is the leading cause
of stress amongst those in touch with
it."
-Spoken by the character "Crazy Trudy," in Jane Wagner's
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life.
i.
In the summer of
1988,
I left my position as professor of lit-
erature at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to be-
come dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona
in Tucson. With that transition, I became responsible for the smooth
functioning of seven departments, five programs, and two research
centers. I oversaw an annual state-funded permanent budget of
$13
million and directly dispersed another
$4-$5
million, allocated to me
yearly by the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs,
to cover everything from the stipends for graduate student teaching
assistants to the purchase of computers for the dean's office. With
just under
200
full-time faculty attempting to serve the needs of the
22,000
students (both graduate and undergraduate) who enrolled each
semester in humanities courses, the money was always tight. I was
constantly juggling dollars-while begging for more. In addition to
endless committee meetings and monthly deans' council marathons,
two or three times each month, I met for an hour with the provost and
senior vice president for academic affairs, the administrator to whom
I reported and at whose pleasure I continued in my post as dean. The
person who held that position changed repeatedly, however, so that in
five years as dean I reported to five different acting, interim, or per-
manent provosts in succession.
Meanwhile, I had
no time for scholarship or research beyond stolen
hours on an occasional weekend, and books and articles that I wanted
to read simply collected dust in the growing piles on my study floor.
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