2
Contemplating the Prospect
6. Being a dean is an important job. There is a lot to do, and the
dean's decisions have important consequences.
7. Disagreeing with someone does not cause me to lose respect for
them. I've heard some crazy opinions expressed in my life, and I
wonder about the holder's sanity. But most of the time I just see
different opinions as the result of someone starting with the same facts
but attaching different weights to these facts and using an alternate,
but valid, reasoning process. I can still respect them even though I
think they are wrong.
8. Logical consistency does not imply truth. Just because I discover
a scenario that explains all the known facts does not mean I have
discovered the truth. There may be facts that I don't know, and,
even if I do, valid explanations are not unique.
9. Mathematics is a great profession, and there is room in it for people
of vastly different levels of talent.
10. It is important to lead people toward worthy goals. Some ob-
jectives, however, are so important that if people won't be led there,
they have to be pushed.
Now for some statements a prospective head should disagree with.
1. Being the head of the department is basically a social position.
This is the person who the department designates to have dinner
with the dean, meet parents of prospective students, and administer
the secretarial staff. (This was said by a junior colleague many years
ago.)
2. Mathematicians behave differently than other people.
3. All people are basically good, and with the right approach they
will always do what is best for the common good.
4. No action should be taken unless at least two-thirds of the faculty
agree.
5. The only good dean is an invisible one.
6. Most departments run themselves.
7. My scholarly life is over.
8. The most important part of my day is my noontime run.
9. The least important part of my day is my noontime run.
10. Secretaries ought to be quiet and do what they are told.
11. Faculty ought to be quiet and do what they are told.
12. All human difficulties can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
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