Saturday, December 4, 2010

Diary of an Executive Dean

(There was such a huge response to Diary of a Faculty Dean we wanted to continue the piece with the next entries of the diary. Unfortunately, as the Dean is still on sick leave we have been unable to do this. Instead, we have the Diary of an Executive Dean which we hope will shed some light into just how hard the senior management at the Free University work.)

October 15th: Mergers, mergers, mergers – that’s what it’s all about these days. Of course it was a long time coming and then suddenly its panic stations. First we had the Provost’s solemn denials, then the VP’s pathetic obfuscations, followed by months of hints and innuendo. Now it’s bloody panic! We have to find someone to merge with – and soon! No problem, sez I – haven’t we been stringing along the Catholic University up the road for the last 4 years. I’ll give my mate up there a call and see if we can’t produce some inane document or other about closer ties and that kind of horse-shit. It’s worked before.

October 19th: problem sorted! One phone call and a month’s work done – now that’s what I call efficiency. I’m feeling very pleased with myself about the whole thing – I had to calm down the VP. He always gets rattled by this kind of thing. I was a model of calm, told him that it was all sorted and we’d have the paperwork in by the morning. He actually kissed my hand with relief. I can’t wait til his position comes up again, I’ll screw the sap. Anyway, that’s a battle for another day. Now it’s time for Mimi’s Massage Klinik and a little light relief. Because I deserve it.

October 24th: The document finally arrived and it’s perfect. Full of task-sharing initiatives, blended learning, synergy baloney – they lap that stuff up in the Department. Impenetrable flowcharts, muddled lines of command, endless repetition – there’s even an executive and a non-executive summary! Is this a first? Anyway it’s just the kind of rubbish that got us lorry-loads of cash a few years ago, it should do the trick. God I love this job.

October 25th: strange day today. No one seemed to want to talk to me. In fact, they were positively avoiding me. The VP’s secretary gave me the glassy glare that I know means something’s afoot. I call her the canary – when she starts drooping on her perch you know there’s some noxious gasses around. I’ll hold tight and see what gives. Must call my chum in the Catholic University tomorrow, see that everything’s still on track. Off to the Klinik now for a top-up. Nothing like a happy ending after a hard day in the ivory tower.

October 26th: those idiots! They’ve pulled out of the merger with the Catholic University! My friend, or should I say, former friend, was spitting blood at me. We’re chasing a goddamn amalgamation with the Corpus University and the Catholic University has been left hanging. And I wouldn’t mind but Corpus are our sworn enemies – our football team even has a special song about eating their entrails. I’ve been trying to get to talk to the Provost, but he’s been “away from the campus” – i.e. avoiding me. The VP’s secretary was looking especially smug. God I hate this job.

October 27th: finally go to talk to the Provost and plead with him not to dump the amalgamation with the Catholic University, to no avail. He thinks that Corpus is more prestigious. My arse – it’s just bigger and he thinks he’ll get more money if we hide under their coat-tails. What an idiot – we’ll just catch more of their shit, is what’ll happen. I’m despairing. I don’t think Mimi’ll do tonight – I’ll have to call to Mistress Domatella for a sound thrashing.

October 29th: very despondent today. We had senior management briefings about how to break the amalgamation news to staff. Nothing too surprising:
  • Middle Managers: stress the “opportunities” in becoming an even smaller cog in a bigger machine – they lap up that rubbish.
  • Administration Staff: the message is: “don’t worry, nothing will change here”. It’s amazing how gullible these people are.
  • Technicians: brass tacks with these folks, stern line about what needs to be done and how they’ll be dumped if they so much as squeak.
  • Academic Staff: Nothing to say to these guys. Who ever talks to them anyway?

November 4th: Catastrophe! Corpus have ditched us at the altar! Those bastards, they’ve jumped into bed with South Eastern University and are hanging us out to dry. Now we have no-one to turn to – after we screwed the Catholic University they went and got hooked up in some god-awful arrangement with Midlands University and who knows who else. But we can’t be left this way. I was very I-told-you-so with the Provost today, which he didn’t appreciate. Well I’m beyond caring anymore.

November 5th: things are getting desperate. We still haven’t found anyone to merge with. After the general management meeting we went for a few drinks and it soon turned into quite a session. Before the night was out it was looking like the last night in Hitler’s bunker. I finally managed to find my clothes and stagger home at 5am. How long can this go on?

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