Bad Dean never talked to a department Chair without a lecture on the ugly parts of “your budget.” Enrollments were too low; expenses were too high. Faculty salaries and travel needed tighter control, and office costs were unreasonable. Specific examples Bad Dean gave were always wrong, either as
to the facts or to the math involved or both. When a Chair replied with specific responses, they were ignored or referred to the Associate Dean for Administration, a classic MBA bean-counter with no teaching or research experience. Those of us who knew Bad Dean when he was a mere tenured professor knew he was a numerical illiterate. (Bad Dean’s field was Medieval Slavic Languages.)
In my four-year stint as Chair, I had many such conversations with Bad Dean. I inherited a six figure deficit, which I was told would prohibit any hiring and was enough to trigger layoffs. Several fights with the Associate Dean over accounting issues later, layoffs were off the table. By year three, our deficit was eliminated, and we had begun hiring again. My last year as Chair ended with a surplus that reached six figures. It took no small effort. Bad Dean’s reaction was not to congratulate me: “Next year, your budget is going to be very tight,” he scolded.
When Bad Dean then asked me to consider standing for Chair again, I declined, having ascertained beforehand that Bad Dean had no intentions of retiring any time soon. My successor lasted 18 months.
- Old Fart Prof