I’ve now been Associate Dean for a while, and am prepared to share what I have
learned about how I make decisions. There's a special blurb on meetings.
Here's how I try to make my decisions, listed in approximate order of importance:
Here are some things I try not to do:
- Follow relevant policies and procedures from the university and school;
- Follow relevant precedent;
- Adhere to horizontal equity (treating like people alike);
- Adhere to vertical equity (treating different people differently);
- Be just.
I try to respond in a timely fashion to all reasonable
However, I am not particularly patient and get annoyed when asked
unreasonable questions. Two examples of the latter: a)
short-notice or late requests for things that could reasonably have
been foreseen; b)
questions which I have answered before (especially recently and/or
repeatedly .. and watch out if your question is answered in the email
that you're sending) . I may well ignore your question, if you
have previously ignored my answer to the same question. Also, the
internet is a wonderful resource;
consider using it before asking me, especially if you have been at Haas for years. Many Haas administrative details are available on the web; ditto with campus personnel issues.
- Reward bad behavior;
- Act in a dynamically inconsistent fashion (so that I make different decisions about the same thing at different points in time);
- Act in a way that would be embarassing or indefensible to the media or a California taxpayer
- Encourage (even implicitly) people to waste the time of others, including my own time.
Questioning a Decision
I realize that some of my decisions may seem questionable. That
I ask that you be reasonable in your questioning. The ADAA
position is not a full-time job, and is grossly under-compensated in
terms of teaching relief and other benefits. The university
expects me to continue research, and so do I; please do not cut into
this time unnecessarily. I did not choose to become ADAA, and
would be happy to be relieved of the job. I neither enjoy
it nor think that I do it particularly well. Please believe that
I try to make
decisions efficiently, fairly, and reasonably. I am also juggling
many balls in the air, not all of which can be publicly revealed.
I ask you not to challenge each decision I make, or to ask for an
explanation; please act as if I act benignly. I have other things
I'd rather do than defend each decision; I hope you have better things
to do than questioning minor decisions. And be warned: I have a
policy of discouraging those who question minor issues of phrasing in
If you still wish to challenge a particular decision of mine
(especially a minor
decision, even if you do not perceive it to be minor): read on. I
know that few of my colleagues act out of
narrow self-interest, so I will likely interpret this as a sign
of interest in the decision-making process and act accordingly;
those interested in such processes are well-suited to administrative
roles in the future. I'll try hard to accommodate your revealed
preference and ask you to perform appropriate service soon.
Alternatively, if your question is purely self-interested then simply
write out "Beyond Yourself" 50
times by hand, and present this to me when we meet to discuss your
Why I don't take Most Administrative Meetings
primary objective of a research university is the production and
dissemination of knowledge; that's also my goal. I try to avoid
wasteful meetings because they distract me from doing my job
I am prepared to take meetings where confidential
or sensitive information is conveyed, or where I should be present for
a decision. I'm always
happy to meet and talk with my students.
However, administrative meetings to exchange information
tend to be wasteful; I neither convey nor absorb spoken information
well "on the fly". Most academics prefer to read, digest,
and think; me too. I especially dislike being a piece of room
meat; others should feel free to converse without my presence.