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Executive summary of a letter to the incoming chair

I am now almost done with my letter to the incoming chair. After this summary, I only have to go back and plug in the two-dozen-or-so items I realized I missed after writing the various sections [1].

We’ve reached the end of this much-too-long document. I’m not sure that it’s possible to provide an appropriate summary of everything that’s in this letter. Copying or summarizing the lists seems pointless. So I’ll give a more general statement of purpose.

We have a wonderful department. However, we are challenged not only by a large number of students (and a much too large student/faculty ratio), but also by your predecessors’ tendencies to find and embrace new activities for the department. Because of the size, those tendencies, and a variety of College initiatives, we do a lot of things in this department.

To manage your responsibilities, make sure to set boundaries, delegate work, and, most importantly, don’t be me. Know what resources are available to you (particularly ASAs and student assistants) and take advantage of them!

We have a wide variety of current initiatives that you’ll need to pay attention to, some self-imposed, some externally imposed. You also have regular chair duties. You can find more details elsewhere in this letter. Even if you don’t read the text, you should skim through the italicized responsibilities in sections 2, 3, 4, and 6 to familiarize yourself with the work of the chair and the department. Finding the right balance between the normal responsibilities and the special tasks will be a challenge. Expanding the faculty, faculty reviews and support, budget, diversity, and the external review are almost certainly the most pressing issues.

The people (students, faculty, staff) are the most important aspect of this department. Do what you can to support them. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Appropriate support probably requires more funds, more space, and more faculty.

Don’t be me. Do your best to keep the workload reasonable. Know limits. A sensible and non-stressed chair will make the department better.

Good luck!

[1] I should also do another broad editing pass.

Version 1.0 of 2017-05-31.