When I started to work in Bangor we had a Head of School: Chris. He was one of those old-fashioned, avuncular men who can talk for hours. He seemed to quite enjoy the job. How much work it was wasn't very clear. He did have to chair meetings, but he never seemed to be in a hurry doing it. And then his time was up (I think there are three-year terms) and another had to be elected. Not sure by whom! Not by the general staff. Not by me.
There were loads of candidates. And the man that got the job, David, was unexpected. I wan't too informed on the politics of it all as a mere postdoc, but there were some feathers ruffled. But well, he had got the job. He had better get on with it now!
And then all sorts of things happened. Meetings suddenly got a lot shorter. The university went through two rounds of financial restructuring. There were strikes. People left. And I got a permanent job!
It was clear the easy days of being HoS were over. And we ended up getting emails from David at strange hours. He is a bit of a micro-manager, so some of these emails might not have been necessary, but it was clear the HoS job needed some effort. And we came through the restructuring! Is all well? No. We are catering for more students than ever with less staff (both academic and support) than ever. But we're still here! And we have had no forced redundancies. We are even advertising two jobs at the moment.
So what did this all mean to me? Well, basically David gave me what I had been desperately wanting for years; a permanent job. That is the main thing! And he also supported the people like me who only teach and don't do research. And he is well aware of the lack of gender equality in the School, and that it needs doing something about. He made a strong case for a female external examiner, for instance. And when I addressed my workload he listened. It's not sorted yet, but things will be changing when we get new staff in, that we can burden with the tasks we want to get rid of. That's how it works! That's how I got landed them.
He's got his downsides too, of course; I thought he was a bit blunt when ordering me and Dei to swap offices, and he gave me some serious headache when he got involved in the student allocation. But altogether I thought he was a lot better than his predecessor!
But then he also became pro-vice-chancellor and that's a busy job. HoS is too. You can't have both! So he's laying down his HoS hat. But now what? After this period, suddenly not many people were keen to take over. I even think nobody was keen. But they found someone willing: his deputy. And this week he has taken over officially.
I know his replacement has barely started and can't be judged on his performance yet, but he has big shoes to fill. I hope he will rise to the occasion! He will be my direct boss and how he does might be quite important to how I enjoy my job...