Tuesday was my big meeting with the head of school in which I was going to pitch to her the idea that I would take the department chairship for a year (while the current chair is on sabbatical) if I could keep my current non-teaching duties and drop down to three courses. And I had said I would post an update ... and then life/work/exhaustion intervened, and it's only now, on Friday night, that I'm relaxing in front of a fire with some wine and taking the time to blog.
The totally fabulous thing about my meeting with the head of school (which was supposed to be 15 minutes but went on for half an hour, making me late to my next meeting, but who cares?) is that it started with her telling me how much she absolutely LOVED chapter 1 of the FGS history book, which I had given her on Friday. She had made a list of moments that she thought were particularly great and said that we shouldn't change a thing, that it was perfect as is. That is not of course true, and things will get changed, and the whole thing needs to be shortened, but still, how lovely to hear such high praise for one's writing! And an excellent way to begin a meeting.
I did pitch her my idea, and she was receptive, although she didn't say, "Oh, sure, we can reconfigure the job, no worries!" What she said is, "How funny life is. Last Friday we had no options for internal candidates for the department chairship, and now we have two!"
Two, you say? One is me, obviously, but here's the new twist: The other is my dear friend and former colleague who had moved to another school a couple of years ago; she has really disliked the new school a lot (and it's a school that most faculty just adore, which goes to show that school culture is a powerful and idiosyncratic thing, and one can't always tell where one will be a good fit and where one won't), and so she's seriously considering coming back to FGS for one year even though the head of school was quite clear that they would love to have her back but couldn't promise anything beyond this one year replacement job. Anyway, they're treating her as an internal candidate for the job -- as indeed they should -- and one option they discussed was that she could be chair for the year. My friend and I had talked all of this over the week before over dinner the week before, but at the time she was doubtful that she was going to apply for the sabbatical position since it was temporary, and I had decided that I wasn't going to apply for chair. And a week later, here we were, both applying for the chairship!
So here's the human nature part of this whole situation: I had firmly turned down the possibility of the position the week before and had only reluctantly said that I'd be willing to take up the burden under certain circumstances, but as soon as I heard that someone else was being considered for it, I immediately wanted it much more than I had!
But good sense then reasserted itself. My friend and I talked on the phone that afternoon and made sure that we were both totally happy to have the other one be chair -- which is true -- and that a part of us actually hoped that it would be the other one. And she is being very clear that she would love to be back at FGS but that she's not desperate and that if the final package of teaching and non-teaching duties isn't what she wants, she can say "no, thank you" to the offer and stay where she is or apply elsewhere. So no one's in a crisis, which is a hopeful indication of good decision-making.
So the way things are right now is ... well, actually, I don't know. I guess they are the way they were before -- maybe I'll be chair next year, and maybe I won't, and I'm not sure when I'll find out one way or the other. As I said to a departmental colleague today, I guess none of this affects what I'm going to do tomorrow or the next day or the day after. I want to know, just to know, and other folks are also kind of impatient to know, but I guess I'll just wait to hear. And the trustees are on campus in a big meeting this weekend, deciding next year's budget, so I'm pretty sure that I won't hear anything one way or the other for several days yet or even longer.
At this point I mostly don't care. If I get the chair, then super, I have one less course to teach and more time to work on the FGS book (I mean, being chair is work, obviously, but it's much more episodic than teaching) and I have something else to put on my resume if I ever want to look for another job. And if I don't get the chair, then next year I do exactly what I'm doing this year, which is just fine. So I'm a winner either way, and after doing quite a bit of thinking about it last weekend, I think I've now moved to a place where whatever happens, happens.
So I guess this isn't much of a story yet, because I don't know what the next chapter is yet!