Knee-deep in Alligators

My father – himself a long-time academic administrator – had a cartoon he had posted on a bulletin board, featuring several business-suit wearing men, looking more than a bit terrified and bedraggled, struggling to keep themselves out of the maws of several alligators taking up the terrain below their dangling feet. The caption read “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your first objective was to drain the swamp.” These days, “drain the swamp” has a different connotation – more about corruption than heretofore unknown hazards, but the unpleasant prospect still holds. In today’s more environmentally-informed era, maybe we should preserve the swamp and other habitats – leaving the alligators to flourish in their own world and stay within safer bounds?

Hazards abound in working life – many of them surfacing with no ill-intent. The other day I got an email politely asking about when a pending report could be expected. *CHOMP* It felt as if an alligator was suddenly underfoot, even if I knew well that responsibility was on my shoulders. It had been such a pleasant 36 hours with only one immediate crisis to manage. . . .

The learning curve for serving as Director is steep. That I spent my first month in the role covering for another major set of responsibilities in the Faculty stretched me thin for time. The final straw was squeezing in prep for a new course that I ran in the fall term: Games and History.

It all worked, somehow. The course was great – it really worked well to engage students thinking about history as much as “covering” topics. They connected practices well across time and considered thoughtfully how contemporary games about historical eras were, themselves, a form of historical interpretation that was worthy to examine.

This term there’s only one new preparation and it’s a shared course, so it’s work, but not nearly as daunting. I still have many daunting parts of my director’s duties to handle, though – recruiting faculty members for urgently-needed committees, drafting necessary reports, tweaking the timetable for next year, and, yes, sometimes meeting with folks.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get cracking on prep work for meetings and more (and keep working on my French because, dang, while my written French has improved greatly over the past eight months, my spoken French is still very much my Achilles heel). Au revoir, tout le monde. Qu’il n’y ait pas d’alligators chez vous!


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