Article Library

Why I Am Dropping Out of Administration

The transition from a tenured faculty member to an administrator is a common leap in the higher education world. Fewer people willingly relinquish their administrative positions to return back to the faculty, but Carol Pardun is doing just that. After eight years moving up the ladder in administration, Pardun shares her reasons for leaving. Her insight illuminates some of the issues that are easy to overlook when joining an administration team and doubles as solid advice for those currently in administration.

It's important to point out that Pardun has a successful career as an administrator. She is a problem solver, loves to lead, and is spurred on by challenge. Starting out a the head of a journalism school with 700 students she was able to adjust to life in administration and had a productive second year with the school, but in the third year it became apparent that Pardun had learned everything she could from this position and it was time to move forward. She found a new position at a larger school that offered her more authority as an administrator. She was on the right path; the new position was keeping her busy; her career opportunities seemed limitless... except they weren't.

It takes more consideration than simply moving up another rung on the ladder. Trying to find a balance between the universities where she would like to work and the requirements for her personal living arrangements made it clear that there were fewer places she could go than initially anticipated. She realized that fellow administrators sometimes fail to share critical information with would-be administrators. Namely that "just because you want to move up doesn't mean that you will be able to move up at the times and places you might wish, and even when you get the chance, most likely the job was never intended to last forever." Now that Pardun has made the decision to restart her career path with a return to the faculty and a second wind research career she shares some insight that might help illuminate what it really means to be an administrator.

Most time is spent dealing with day-to-day issues such as signing documents, approving travel and handling complaints which means less time is available for "your own" work. Administrative work can be more solitary than one would expect and also makes navigating friendships with colleagues difficult. Being too chummy will get you accused of favoritism and conversely, some faculty members are "hard-wired to disagree with administrators" and will create a problem out of everything. While it was certainly a difficult decision, Pardun has decided to leave administration and her hindsight after making that decision offers important pieces of information for anyone currently in or beginning in administration.

Read More