I think this will set the right tone for this post:

About a year ago, another eighteenth-centuryist and I talked about the “fact” that eighteenth-centuryists have a history of becoming department administrators–chairs, graduate directors, undergraduate directors, etc. In her department, both the chair and the graduate chair are eighteenth-centuryists; my senior colleague is our department’s undergraduate director. This conversation was, in part, about my likelihood of someday becoming an administrator–do I want to; if so, when; what kind of administrator, etc.?

For as long as I remember, I’ve liked to be in charge of things and, if I can’t be in charge, I at least want to know what’s going on, why it’s going on, and how it’s happening. This has led me to accumulate a sizable record of department, college, and university service in my first 7 years as a faculty member at OU. Take this month, for example. I just finished up the site visit for a department’s 7-year review, which took two days. I’ll help with another department’s review in two weeks. Both of these will result in 5-page reports that I’ll have to help write. I’m also participating in near weekly meetings of a faculty senate committee and the monthly meeting of the faculty senate. I’m coordinating the annual review of my department chair, and I’m coordinating the review of my department’s current policies and procedures. I present a colleague’s tenure case to the department on Friday and will probably serve on at least one college promotion and tenure committee in late February. I’m also writing an article and a conference paper for a conference in late February. I am exhausted, yet I’m only at the beginning of most of this work!

But I’m not complaining. One of the things that I learned in conducting the 7-year review earlier this week is that I enjoy this kind of stuff. I enjoy participating in administration, and I love knowing what’s what. It’s fascinating to see how another department, which is fairly comparable to mine in size, scope, and programs manages itself in ways that are sometimes similar to my department and sometimes quite different. It also fascinating to see how members of other departments either do or do not get along with one another. I definitely learned this week that my department has it really good in some ways and that we’re much worse off than this other department in other ways. It’s a whole new level of information and involvement. It was exhausting, but I really enjoyed being able to do it.

I don’t know when or even if I’ll become an administrator in my department. I think I have a lot of the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to be a good administrator, but I’m not sure I’ll seem old enough when the next round of administrative turnover happens.

But either way, I’m not going to sweat it too much right now. I’m enjoying my current level of participation, and that’s all that really matters. In the meantime, I’ll keep singing along to Donna Summer and (metaphorically) dancing the streets!