heavily democratized system from my former life supplanted a loosely
democratized one that had been abused. I was never chair in that
system. In my estimation the system with less democracy is better,
in spite of the possibility of abuse. But this may be the view from
my present vantage point. On the other hand, my endorsement of a
democratically run department had its global maximum when I was a
very young assistant professor. My opinion of the value of democracy
in the running of an academic department has been monotonically
decreasing throughout my career.
But here is the fundamental rule. The head who acts more like a
chair and the chair who acts more like a head will be more successful
than one who tries to live in a pure state. So in this book I am not
going to maintain a distinction. I think that what I have to say applies
to both circumstances.
I will almost always use the term "head" rather than "chair".
I like the title because in academic circles "chair" is ambiguous. It
is often used as in the, "Chair in Analysis" or the "Bovid Chair". I
also do not like the term "chairperson". I appreciate the sensitivities
of my female colleagues and see many good reasons to adopt sexless
nomenclature. I do this willingly and gladly. But "chairperson" is
offensive to my sensitivity about language. (It especially grates when
I hear someone refer to a person as the "chairperson" when the person
referred to has a well defined and readily identifiable sex.)
So, gentle reader, the term "head" will be used with no attached
subtle meaning. It simply refers to the person in charge of the de-
partment, regardless of the style of governance.
I also have to say that I have considerably less knowledge of the
workings of departments that are very small, those at community col-
leges, or even those at what are primarily teaching universities. I have
visited such places and talked with their heads, and I have partici-
pated in meetings with both faculty and heads of such departments.
Nevertheless, some of what is here will not apply to certain depart-
ments. That probably did not need to be stated.
One more word about late-breaking events. As I finished the
manuscript for this book, events at the University of Rochester came
to a head, and the administration there decided to terminate their
PhD program in mathematics. The American Mathematical Society
sent a team to discuss matters with the university, and the Council
of the American Mathematical Society passed a resolution expressing
their disapproval. Eventually, the PhD program in mathematics was
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