Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The Fights of Spring
This time of year, more than any other, leaders need to be aware of their own style of being, and of the visceral messages they’re sending. Visceral messages of reassurance can reduce some of the drama, and help people focus on the many, many tasks at hand. The key for leaders is to find styles of sending those messages that don’t undermine their content. And remembering that April doesn’t last forever.
But one question, what's so special about April? Is it the time when funding decisions are made? Is it just the winding down of the school year? Something else?
It's one reason why April is the cruelest month.
BTW, very good post, DD.
It seems to me that there are a lot of stress factors coming together. For all of us, it is the end of a long year (and a long, cold, grey winter in a lot of places), and our natural bouyancy is just depleted.
For students, there are final exams and grades to think about, but also next year's living arrangements to solidify before leaving town, possibly the daunting prospect of moving back home with mom & dad for the summer and navigating those old roles again, or trying to figure out what to do after graduation and how to begin to pay off student debts that may have accumulated over the last several years.
For parents, it is the wrap-up of a school-year, with all of the attendant end-of-school events, which can stress even the most well-balanced of family calendars.
For nontenure faculty, it is the beginning of four-five months of no pay (unless they're lucky enough to have summer teaching work), or of seeking temporary summer jobs that tend not to pay well and feel more than a little demeaning when you have a terminal degree and are well into middle age. A time to look deeply into the mirror and examine one's professional status (not. fun.).
On my campus, this is also the time of year when layoff letters are issued, funding cuts are announced, programs are killed, requests for more tenure-lines or even non-tenure lines are denied, we are all being told that we'll be expected to do more next year with even less, administrative staffing changes are announced, and figurative knives are thrown at people's backs and careers.
It is enough to make anybody grumpy and stressed out.
And I blame it on Deans and VPs. Reports of all kinds are due at the same time that exams have to be written and major papers read with the final deadline falling at the same time that exams have to be graded while also attending graduation! And guess when course learning outcome assessment analysis is due? Yep. Woe to the person who also has a major research grant report or proposal due at that same time! But faculty are not blameless: we also stack up major meetings and decisions at the end of an academic year of discussion and debate. I can think of a few decisions that would have been better made in August after letting the report and proposed changes mellow over the summer.