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Collegial advice

17 April, 2009

Collegial Advice

Dear colleague,

I understand that you are an Important Person at your institution, whose very nature is based on understanding hierarchy and conforming to it. But you have come to me asking a favor. It may be that, in the past, you have had similar favors granted by my predecessors. But we are in a new era of accreditation standards. So if I send you a very polite request asking for further information on which to base my judgement, and make it clear that I am consulting with other colleagues on your request while performing due diligence to make sure, if we grant that request, our accrediting agency will approve, let me give you a little advice:

Do NOT send a curt response to me that denies me my academic title, let alone my professional one (not that being department chair carries any extra rank at SLAC — just more work!).

Do NOT spell my name incorrectly.

In short, do NOT write:


[insert grudging response to polite request for more information here]

[replacement of courtesy close with a statement that implies that I owe you your request]

Because seriously. Dude. Your insignia don’t outrank my PhD. I don’t owe you a thing, and I have every right to review your current connection with my department and see if we should discontinue that.*

no love,


Department Chair from whom you are asking a favor.

*I should point out that I will not be making this decision on my own, although that is within my rights. I will be consulting with 4 colleagues who have expertise, and then presenting my advice to my Dean. Because in ADM land, we consult and discuss and work for consensus whenever possible — especially when there might be conflicts of interest — and we document.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 April, 2009 11:13 pm

    and this is especially important given the power accrediting agencies actually have over our lives; not to mention the actual existence of our departments/degrees/institutions

  2. 18 April, 2009 1:19 am

    Tool time!

  3. 21 April, 2009 3:33 am

    I think I know that guy… or at least one of his 1 billion clones throughout academia.

  4. 21 April, 2009 12:11 pm

    Now, see — Kelly immediately gets it and I’m rather surprised the colleague didn’t, as I’m sure one of the reasons he wanted me to agree to his request was to boost enrollments and the reputation of his own school. Clearly, smart people who have a clue would not take this person’s attitude.And I am still laughing at Historiann’s comment! Although mostly, I’m thinking of a certain movie with very young versions of Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, and Tom Cruise. I bet that movie still gives the guy a thrill.Matt, I bet you do! But do they do the same things to you? or just your female colleagues? Seriously asking.

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