Texas Tech University

Administration 101: The Work Starts Before You Start

David Perlmutter

February 11, 2018

Chronicle of Higher Education - Call it the "job before the job." You accepted a position in academic administration with an official start date. But your work actually began the moment you signed the contract.

On the other hand, as a new leader, some urgent task may require you to put your communication skills to immediate use. When I was preparing to start as a department head at a previous university, the development officers told me, "There are some donors you need to talk to right away because they are very worried about the future of the department." So, although not actually employed yet, I traveled to meet those donors to assure them that my priority would be to fix some of the major (and public) problems of the department.

An academic administrator's job is never done. Certainly, the higher you go, the more odd hours you will devote to your vocation. You cannot just accept a leadership post and then coast until you show up in the office. The prep starts the moment you sign the contract.

David D. Perlmutter is a professor in and dean of the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University. He writes the "Career Confidential" advice column for The Chronicle. His book on promotion and tenure was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. Browse the previous columns in this series here.

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