“What are my powers as far as disciplining students or faculty, for that matter?”
“As far as students are concerned, pretty much absolute powers. You can suspend them for a day, a week or a month if they cause problems and they will have to leave. No one will question your judgment on that—unless, of course, you discipline too many and then profits suffer if they don’t come back. But that is very rare—they will all come back, or they will not get their tuition paid for by Uncle Sam and the state, and, in many cases, they also will have their welfare checks taken away if they won’t work or go to school and are able-bodied.” Bob said, earnest, serious, but apparently enjoying the look of disbelief that seemed to blossom on Dan’s face like a rose touched by the first rays of the rising sun.
“What about faculty? Any problems I need to be aware of? What powers do I have to discipline them?” Dan asked, and by this time he began taking notes. He was really grateful for Bob’s candor, though beginning to realize some of the challenges he was going to have to face.
“Well, they’re as mercenary and disloyal as everybody else in this business—if they get a better offer, from another proprietary degree mill or especially from a public school system or a community college, most will bolt. There’s a fair amount of turnover, but frankly, that depends largely on who the dean is and how she or he treats them. Most in my tenure here—and there have been two—you are the third in five years—have not been very effective at working with them or making them feel valued. So they’re a bit gun-shy. They will expect little from you, and, in return, frankly, you can expect more or less the same from them. They will do their job, almost all will teach their classes regularly and pretty well, but that’s as far as it will go. Though I think they will respond well to you—I just have a feeling.”
“What do you mean?” Dan asked.
“Well, you obviously give a shit, and it shows—and they will notice that. Just give them a little time.”
“Thanks, Bob” Dan said, glad for the sentiment but still processing what he was hearing. The unforeseen challenges before him were beginning to look daunting. But he was not afraid of a challenge—like most naïve folks who feel everything is going just fine until the very moment they step right into the abyss. “But I have no experience at this, and it is becoming clear I’ll face challenges I was completely unaware of until now.”
“Don’t worry, Dan. I know you’ll do fine. We’ve had some very experienced burnouts on the job who failed miserably, at least one of whom was nearly tar and feathered before finally getting a hint and moving on. Inexperience is something you will quickly overcome. You have the right tools and attitude, and you will win at least most of them over I think pretty quickly. At least they will respect your background and the fact you have some real credentials, unlike their last dean. Keep in mind that they have no tenure, no union and serve largely at your pleasure. Most of them like their jobs, and this is a much better place than most in this industry. They will depend on you for their livelihoods and though you do not have the power to give them raises or lessen their teaching loads, you can make a great deal of difference in their quality of life here and in how they are valued. If you are fair with them, most will quickly learn to appreciate you.”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about, Bob. I appreciate your honesty. Thank you.”
“I’m glad you’re here, Dan. I suspect we’re going to get along very well.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish