Still nothing from the Dean, OR the Provost. My friends are furious that I'm not automatically chair; I'm just pissed. Because we're going to need to do some serious thinking about the way forward.
Star constructed a whole new department structure, and a very ambitious one given our staffing. We talked about it, and he told me then (this was now nearly 2 years ago) that it was all part of his long-term strategy to retire the two dinosaurs and bring in his friends. We (and it was always we, meaning I was an integral part of this plan) would then be able to transform what was basically a service department for a real history department. We would go from simply serving the Gen Ed curriculum to a department that was larger, stronger, more meaningful. I supported that completely, cautioning him that it would indeed be a 180 degree shift from where we were, and would encounter lots of strong inertia. He relished taking that on. Then he went for being the Honor Director, and we talked about what that meant for our long term strategy.
Again, I cautioned him that with his reduced role within the department and the demands of the honors program, that strategy needed to be reconsidered. He disagreed, argued that he could transform both the Honors program AND the department. In the past months, as I've watched him drowning in the Honors stuff, again and again I offered to take back the history stuff (except assessment, which he wanted too). Again and again, he brushed off those concerns and assured me he was on track and okay.
Friday, at the teaching retreat, I was told he'd confided in another program director that he didn't know if he could continue to do it all; he was overwhelmed. I read that as candor, not defeatism. I'm not terribly happy that he didn't share that with me, but that's past now. Except that maybe it isn't. I'm going to try and talk to Star tomorrow, get some of that candor and clear the air.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering what I will do as chair. Considerations: national search criteria, departmental development re: new program - do we keep it as is (struggling and hobbled by reality) or modify it? There is really no way we can keep it as is without additional faculty - and we are having difficulties in meeting the requirements of our students without many Independent Studies, for which we get paid very poorly and all pile on top of our full loads. For me, it just makes sense to make the current program our goal - and to make some adjustments. What adjustments remain to be seen. Those adjustments need to reflect what we can actually do, given the constraints of money, time, staffing. Until we get back to full staffing, trying to run two tracks (US and World) may not be feasible. The only way we've been able to do it for the past two years are these killer overloads that both Star and I have been doing. With him gone (into the abyss of the Honors program), I ended up doing so much that I had overloads that drove me to distraction. That was a big part of my fall meltdown.
Star's increasing autarky was another - he had to do everything and share nothing. He became so overloaded that even his much touted monthly faculty meetings didn't happen. Interdepartmental communication - which had always been casual, open and frank - ceased. He wanted to do all the advising for not only the 180+ honors students, but all the history majors as well. Completely resisted and rejected my offers to help. We can't do that again.
So, if I become Chair (again), what can/should I do? How quickly? How do I make program changes without totally screwing our students? How do I undo the damage to our campus reputation that Star (unwittingly) inflicted in the name of improving the department?
If I don't become Chair - which has a whole list of implications attached to that - how do I undo the damage to my reputation on campus? If the PTB bring in an outsider to be Chair and Honors Director, that means they don't trust me anymore. They won't fire me; I just got a good strong eval (from Star) and there are no grounds. But they can definitely sideline me, reduce the department again to nothing more than a service department. The former, to be honest, concerns me more than the latter. And quite frankly, I'm not sure how to undo that kind of damage. Star always assured me that when he threw the department under the train that I was not part of that critique. That he'd always told people (the Prez, the Dean, etc.) that I was the only one in the department he could work with, that I was reliable and creative and innovative, etc.. I was the keeper in the pile of junk that was the department. (And yeah, he more or less used that kind of language to the PTB).
But if they go around me, and hire a chair... that means he lied. That's what I have to clarify tomorrow. Because, quite honestly, I can't bring myself to track him down to his office (which is where he'll be today, holiday or no) and do it today. I'm just not good at confrontations. I hate them. I'm really disappointed in Star for the way he's handled this announcement and move.
If my reputation on campus is compromised/blown, what can I do to rebuild it without besmirching Star's contributions? FWIW, found out that he'd tracked down all kinds of colleagues & friends - across the campus and off - with the news more than a week before he told me. Apparently I was the last before the FB post.