More than four years ago, now, I made a proposal to teach online courses at LaGrange College at the exact same window of time my provost had been planning to contract with a company to help us offer them. I was granted an opportunity to lead our school forward on a task that I felt strongly about, that was supported by the Board of Trustees, and that was a clear and obvious future wave of pedagogy; I have never regretted it. I was offered a director’s post about 1.5 years later. The conclusions for these efforts are now at hand.
Recently, I was granted an opportunity to be a leader for the college for adult and graduate education. I remain tenured and at the associate professor level. I will not be recruiting but I will be steering those two key aspects of our college so that they run efficiently with exciting new offerings. In some cases, no adjustment needs to be made. In several cases, it’s clear that my work is cut out for me.
This still leaves a problem: how do I disentangle myself from a series of works that I have built from the ground up?
We started at ground zero. There had been one or two experiments at LC, beforehand, but no program, no stably offered courses, and no support for any of these. Four years later, we run regular faculty development, manage our LMS in-house, and are members of SREB’s SECRRA and NC-SARA/GA-SARA. We work on software, ADA compliance, video, and have even formulated a handful of neat liaisons on-campus that will continue to flower long after I abandon these responsibilities.
We offer online certificates, an online degree completion for RNs to become BSNs (way to go nurses!), a hybrid-delivery graduate level program, and a new, fully online graduate program will be offered in under one year. Did I build these? No. But I was a part of enabling all of these; I was a part of the process just as were many of my colleagues. I feel tremendous pride in them.
LaGrange College has continually increasing numbers of students in our online courses, more and more faculty teach in non-traditional manners, and our summers are almost (now) entirely online. Administrative processes adapt to include online instruction and (regularly) become more efficient and student-centered as a result. Section codes reflect different course delivery styles which are also clearly defined.
I learned this recently: Online/hybrid instruction is one of the goals from our 2010 strategic plan that has already surpassed it’s 2020 goal.
How do I walk away from all of this? I’m not, but it’s the right time to give it back. Others will get to pick up my work, see flaws, and take the process in an entirely new and valuable direction.
Laying Down the Responsibilities
I have an exit plan. It’s rough and coarse–an alpha release, or a very early draft. It contains usernames and passwords to accounts for which we’ve sought vendors. This document (very much in flux) has an outline of processes that are started for which I don’t have time to complete.
My annual report only reports and doesn’t set goals for the next year. I’m not sad about that.
When my new tasks begin I’ll need to formally give up the old tasks. I’ll ask for my administrative credentials to be revoked; that needs to happen or else I’ll still be doing the old tasks.
Then, there are some hard points. The first is that I’ve developed some great relationships with people in my office suite. I won’t lose the friendships but will have to exert effort whereas, before, maintenance has been easy. Another is simply the loss of control over so many tools that I use.
This is Good
The mixed emotions presented paint the picture that I’m disappointed with this change. I’m not.
This opportunity is a clear advancement but, more importantly, I have a great chance to solve problems for this institution that does so many amazing things. I partook of the Kool-Aid; we do valuable things here.
I love to solve problems. While I stray away from relationship problems, I feel comfortable thinking through processes and I have come to love a well-worded document. The wordsmith in me is slowly coming out of his shell and I have gotten better about asserting my thoughts on a process.
Make no mistake, I’m filling some impossibly big shoes. The person who was before me had way more responsibilities than I’ve been granted and was among the best at handling a big work load I have ever met. He added polish to everything and worked tirelessly to turn everything he touched to gold. I’m very afraid of that gold tarnishing.
The details are being worked out for me to transition in this new post but my last tasks are being completed as Director of Online Instruction and Instruction Technology. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes.
Will I do my very best? Without doubt.
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