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Author Topic: Is it too early for me to apply for a program director job in my fairly new job?  (Read 18932 times)
i_am_moving
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« on: November 12, 2011, 12:34:01 AM »

Sorry about the repost. I just felt that this was a better spot for my question.

I'm a fairly new tenure-track faculty member at a teaching university. So far, my first year has been going well. One of the program directors in the department is retiring at the end of the academic year, and we will be doing a search for her position. Before I took this job, I worked in a position with the same capacity as the program director's. I'm actually interested in the job, but I feel like it's too early for me to apply for it because I'm new and I'm still learning a lot about how the department works.

Should I tell someone in the department about my interest for the job, should I apply when the job opens, or should I just wait for the right time when I'm more acquainted with the department?
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2011, 12:42:41 AM »

It is definitely too early to apply for such a position.  You do not know the institution well enough to serve in such a capacity.

And just FYI, it is almost always the case that folks without tenure should not chair programs or departments.  It is usually a grave injustice to an untenured person to ask them to take on administrative responsibility of that magnitude while trying to build a solid tenure case for themselves.

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larryc
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 1:17:45 AM »

Probably not. But "Program Director" can mean a lot of different things. Ask a trusted senior colleague.
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2011, 1:20:23 AM »

Oh, good point, Larryc.

My reply was based upon an understanding of "program director" as a department chair equivalent, but probably with fewer benefits (as in, no chair stipend, or less of a course reduction).  It is indeed important to keep in mind that "program director" can mean a host of different things at different institutions.
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marlborough
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2011, 1:41:51 AM »

If this is something like Honors Program director, or coordinator of an interdisciplinary major, the job may well require knowing a lot more about the local lay of the land than you can at this point.  My institution has seen (largely because of non-interest from senior faculty) a couple of junior people take on these hydra-projects and it doesn't work very well because they have enormous obligations to the program (recruitment, fundraising, promoting visibility, making all the various contributing faculty get along) and almost no support or tools to accomplish  it.

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larryc
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2011, 1:58:16 AM »

Also--surely your colleagues know about your past experience?  Are they asking you to apply? If not, that says all you need to know.
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oatmeal
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 10:42:18 AM »

OP--If it feels to early, it probably is too early. However, this is institution specific. If the position entails reviewing or "power" over tenured colleagues, I would suggest you demur and just work towards tenure. If it is more student centered (or research centered) then you might want to do it. It could make you relatively important to the institution and thus help your tenure case (so long as you are successful--however that is defined). You should talk with some trusted senior colleagues to see how your home department would feel about this and to make sure that it does not take you away from other responsibilities or from building your tenure case, especially on research. I have seen too many untenured colleagues take on leadership roles that sapped their time and hurt their publication record.
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glenwood
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 10:47:39 AM »

I was in a similar position when I started. I spoke with a senior colleague, who explained to me that this job, while in many ways a perfect fit for my interests, was actually much more work than it appeared to be. I ultimately decided not to apply, and in hindsight, I am very glad I didn't.

In any case, I needed information that was not in the official description of the position in order to make the best decision for myself.
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michigander
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 12:03:18 PM »

In addition to what everyone else has posted, check with HR and see if you're eligible to apply.  Most institutions require new employees to be in their positions for some minimum amount of time (often only 6 months) before they're eligible to be considered for another position.
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i_am_moving
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2011, 3:56:32 PM »

Sorry, I didn't get to reply as soon as possible. I got busy with course prep.

We have 4 degree programs in our department, the "program director" would be heading one certain degree program. I think it's more focused on students, and I know I wouldn't be above other tenured faculty, but might be above other faculty who have been here longer than me but are not in the tenure-track.

It will be a 12-month job, and a time release for being "program director" and another for being research faculty.

I'll take all your advice into consideration. It might be helpful to just be laid back for awhile, and just do research. I'm busy enough as it is.
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glowdart
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2011, 1:08:34 PM »

I would also consider whether you are currently published enough for tenure.  We have a number of different kinds of program director positions here, and some of them can be held by untenured faculty, but no one will be supported for such a position pre-tenure until they have published enough to get through tenure.  Some of them, however, involve knowledge of institutional politics and the protective cushion of tenure.  

But I agree that if it feels too early, then it probably is too early.  It might be worth having a discussion with someone about the post -- a discussion which starts with "I assume it is too early, but since this post is open and is of interest to me, could we talk about what might make me a good candidate for it in the future?"  That way, you get the information you need and you let them know that you're interested.  But, this can also lead to more service tasks being sent your way... so be careful.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 1:09:34 PM by glowdart » Logged
itried
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 9:12:52 AM »

i_am_moving, it's good that you're ambitious in this way, but be careful with your timing given that you're new on the TT. The Program Director position in my department* is way, way more work than it seems to an outside observer, even to faculty in the department -- the administrative workload borders on unmanageable. This is especially true if the program is large, if your department is under capacity, and/or if your school is dealing with countless administrative mandates as many are. Before you throw your hat in the ring, ask the retiring colleague about the work load, and ask her to be specific. I would also ask her what the costs were to her teaching and research, and to her emotional and physical health.

*In my department, the Program Director works just under the Chair. The Program Director works "down," while the Chair works "up."
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 9:15:51 AM by itried » Logged
proftowanda
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2012, 8:21:10 PM »

All good advice above; my experience and that of many colleagues also is that these positions are massively time-consuming and do cost us publications.  That's why they tend to be for tenured folk.

So also ask if the campus culture is for these positions to rotate, as they do at mine every three to five years.  If so, then plan now on applying later.   If you are so eager to do that job, you would do better now to work toward going up early for tenure than to not be able to go up for tenure at all.
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skeptical
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2012, 3:00:42 PM »

Reminds me of the recent stories of the Newt applying to be college president whilst still untenured?
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i_am_moving
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2013, 8:16:26 PM »

Sorry for not getting back to this post as soon as possible. I have been busy with work. I just wanted to update everyone regarding my decision.

I finally decided not to apply for the position because even if it was right up my alley, I believed I didn't have the capacity to complete the job successfully, and I would have just felt frustrated because I can't complete my research projects that would allow me to apply for early tenure. We have a newly hired TT program director, and she has a lot of work! She's great in her job, though, and I commend her for taking on the job as a tenure-track faculty.

I am still looking forward to doing a program director position later on, but I'm eyeing a different program than the one that I first wanted to apply. It's a much smaller program, and one that I'm very passionate in. So for now, I'm following everyone's advice to keep on working on my tenure portfolio, get tenure, and then apply for my desired administrative position when it becomes available. I think it's much better to make myself indispensable to the department first before becoming an administrator.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I really appreciate them.
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