Monthly Archives: October 2014

The view from here…


My fingers are itching to return to my blog and so in my new role of provost and vice-president (academic) pro tempore I aim to fill the space weekly. As dean of Memorial’s School of Graduate Studies I wrote mainly about issues related to post-secondary education and graduate students. In less than two months in this job I have a lot more to write about than I ever imagined, to be sure.

Twenty-eight people report to this office, and so the rounds of meetings and the information flowing from these is voluminous. Keeping track of that information and following though on requests, demands, complaints and suggestions takes up pretty much most of the day. When you consider that a lot more time is necessarily taken up with everything from sudden emergencies to out-of-the-blue time-sensitive matters to student concerns, there isn’t much left over for lunch. Everyone seems to have a sense of the busy-work performed by the provost’s office. If I had a loonie for every person who said, “Congratulations, or should I say condolences,” about my taking up this position, I’d hire another staff person.

Yes, it’s crazy busy, even mad, but it’s not all drudgery or pain. In fact, much to my surprise, it’s fascinating (for the most part)and largely creative. The role tests just about every skill one has or has had to develop after decades working in academia. I also hope that in this role, I develop a few new skills I don’t know about yet.

After about seven weeks in the job, I have learned the following:

  • The staff in the provost/VP (academic) office are superb. One simply could not function without them. They are dedicated to Memorial and to our students, and want the shop to be an efficient all-purpose service unit. I am humbled by their talent and diligence.
  • Sorting through the issues is a full-time exercise. I tend to divide them into three categories: big, small, and mashed potatoes.
  • There’s not enough time in the day. I never fully appreciated that cliché until I moved over here.
  • The light in the office makes my geraniums very happy, not that you care.
  • Renovations that transformed 1960s’ office space into our own suite of administrative offices did what they could, but you can’t plug in a kettle and a base heater at the same time without blowing the fuses and shutting ‘er all down.
  • You need a base heater because the heating system is challenged. For the first month I had to wear a coat in the office to keep my body warm enough to work.
  • Everyone wants a piece of the provost. That’s why everyone always says, “Be sure to make time for yourself.”

I look forward to blogging about the job as I experience it. Watch this space.