In the perhaps naïve belief that no one at my institution reads my columns (go on, prove me wrong), I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my current state of uncertainty as a middle manager who doesn’t know who her next boss will be.
Waiting out the search for your new boss is unnerving. Because when you’re a dean, your boss makes a big difference in how you do your job—and, sometimes, in how well you do your job. Tenure-line faculty members don’t have bosses. Administrators really, really do.
In an academic department, your boss is your department chair—and that might someday be you. Department chairs are drafted or elected or take their turns in rotation, and they usually slide back into their normal roles as department members after. Knowing that someone down the hall will be your next boss serves a real function in keeping most of us honest as department chairs. The colleague you offend today could be your chair in a few years.