All posts by David Evans


Do You Really Want to Be the Rules Sergeant?

I just can’t resist wading into the discussion started by Anthony Aycock about classroom management and its two subsequent replies, the first by Scott Hippensteel, who advocates that faculty should “be hard to get along with,” and Rob Jenkins’s subsequent response that “you don’t have to be a jerk” to be a good professor.

I’m quite interested in teaching discussions for a variety of reasons. Before I became a full-time administrator nearly nine years ago, I was an English professor for 15 years,…


Why Management Training Doesn’t Work

I knew when I wrote my last entry on “Management Training vs. Trial By Fire” that it would probably elicit exactly the kinds of responses it did, including comments suggesting that management training is essential to an administrator’s success and that its absence is a significant cause of institutional challenges.

Let me note here that I am not anti-training—I think that there are many areas in which aspiring administrators both need and can make practical use of thoughtfully designed trainin…


Management Training vs. Trial by Fire

One of the things I have really enjoyed in the past several years of writing for On Hiring is the feedback I have received in the comments section and occasionally in direct e-mails. I have even (mostly) enjoyed the negative comments, as they invite me to reflect further on what I have said and refine my thinking in productive ways and have, I hope, made me a better commenter on higher education. I like to know what people around the country are thinking about things that matter to me and to eng…


Small Department/Big Department

My last couple of entries concerned the lessons I learned while chairing my six-person English department at a small private college here in Iowa. After four years at that job, I moved to a much larger, multidisciplinary department at a public university in another state, which was a surprisingly large transition with instructive messages for anyone interested in administration, either as a participant or a spectator.

As chair of my small department, I didn’t have much power or influence, with t…


Lessons From a Search

Last time I discussed a key lesson I learned in my first department-chair job about the importance of seeing the whole institutional picture rather than merely advocating for one’s own department. This time I want to talk about hiring and the various roles the department chair and the academic vice president/dean may have. (I wrote about this  indirectly in an earlier entry.)

My first institution was characterized by that generational turnover in the faculty that everyone was talking about when …


From Faculty to Chair

My first chair position was in a six-person department at another small college here in Iowa. We had a fairly regular rotating-chair system, and my term came early: I’d been there almost six years and had just been approved for tenure and promotion when the incumbent chair, who was finishing her first year of a three-year term, took another job and departed. I was next in line but had expected to wait another couple of years; I was very young, and had not yet really become a “player” on campus i…


Administrative Transitions


Brian Taylor for The Chronicle

The first time I read Hamlet was in my 12th-grade Advanced Placement English class. I remember well my response to Hamlet’s dilemma and his famous inaction in the face of the apparent facts of his father’s murder and what he sees as his mother’s “incestuous” relations with his fratricidal uncle, Claudius. Why, I wondered, could Hamlet not simply kill Claudius and be done with it? The situation seemed clear to me, and the solution much less complicated than Hamlet w…


The Housing Conundrum

This summer, my sixth at my current institution, we have several new faculty and instructional-staff members coming aboard, as is common at this time of year. Also as is common, several of them are scrambling to find housing. Storm Lake, Iowa, is a modest town of about 12,000 people, hosts a large transient population, and has at best a mediocre and small stock of available rentals.

This year more than most, our new faculty and instructional-staff members are all young and moving to their first …


Chairs and the Big Picture

Last year at about this time I wrote about my participation as a workshop facilitator at the Council of Independent Colleges’ workshop for department and division chairs in Indianapolis. As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Cincinnati, where I just led another workshop in one of this year’s iterations of the CIC program.

Last year my subject was supporting and developing adjunct faculty. This year, it was “Serving as Department/Division Chair: Beyond the Job Description.” This topic…


On the Inside Looking In

Nothing in academic hiring incites more controversy and conspiracy theories than the issue of inside candidates, either those who occupy a temporary or interim position that is being replaced by a permanent hire, or those who occupy another slot at the hiring institution and who seek to move into the advertised position. Finally—although this is a somewhat different case—there are the institution’s adjunct faculty members, who may be seeking to be hired for a tenure-track or full-time position.