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“What I am Working on Today”

Nothing at All

February 15, 2013

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Typically on my desk are a dozen or more file folders with pending paperwork concerning budget, personnel, upcoming events, faculty meetings, alumni matters, student appeals and a bevy of appointments.

Today everything has been completed. No appointments, either. Even the email is eerily silent.

These days happen, and they are to be relished. When the work flow stops, even for a few hours or day, you’re doing something right.

During times like these, beginning administrators look for work, writing emails to the dean or provost questioning policies or maybe outlook for new hires, asking professors on the status of their special projects, or checking up on staff and progress on assignments. That can jump-start persnickety correspondence and trigger more work precisely when a crisis breaks, as they tend to do, without warning.

I’m doing none of that, after I finish this post.

Tomorrow I have back-to-back meetings the entire day. I have to pick up supplies for the School at 7:30 a.m. and then make it to the campus auditorium for an 8 a.m. President’s Cabinet meeting. At 10 a.m., I’ll conduct peer mentoring of our assistant professors, oversee a noon-2 p.m. faculty meeting and then attend Chinese New Year from 3-5 p.m.

The Greenlee School has a large cohort of Chinese students, and this is a tradition in Hamilton Hall. View this video of last year’s celebration.

So for an hour today, I’ll visit a few journalism blogs and news sites and read the Chronicle of Education print edition. I’ll keep my door open in case anyone wants to come in to chat. I’ll re-read the Governance Document in preparation for the faculty meeting, as we are discussing the Promotion and Tenure section. I’ll also spend some time preparing a handout for the peer mentoring program on the topic of position responsibility statements.

And, every so often today, I’ll think. I’ll just take five minutes every hour or so to reflect.

It amazes me how little time we in higher education have to do that, think, reflect, take stock and just plain relax, knowing that a complex organization like a journalism school can run on autopilot, at least for a day.

PS: Just as I was finishing this column, a sensitive faculty issue arose and I was called to help resolve it. Oh, well.

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