Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Searching for a Department Head

The Classical Mathematician
This candidate is ready to lead us into a Golden Age of Mathematics. Do you remember back when we had a hundred grad students in the department and the administration respected us and the NSF supported esoteric research and calculus students could add fractions and there were only five sporadic groups? Right. While the candidate did not bring details of his time machine, he did signal that he was willing to enter into a conspiracy with us against the administration and showed us that he was "one of us" by carefully explaining the hidden motives behind his actions and using very frank language.

The Visionary*
A talk that started out as a modest claim that the Head carries out the vision of the department blossomed into a revolutionary presentation on our transformation to the Math Department of the Future. Telephones will have pictures! We will avoid the traffic on the interstate and drive flying cars to The Lab! He predicts great success in working with the administration because he shares their vision for the Department. Despite the fact that we have not been allowed to hire at the senior level in decades, he's sure the Dean would allow him to make targeted (senior) hires to carry out this grand vision. I checked his interview schedule to see if "golf with the Dean" was listed.

The Woman
Withdrew from the search. I predict that down the line Professor Opinionated will cite this to back up some theory of his.

The Compromise
His research isn't the flashiest, which really worried me for a while, but now I'm thinking that there is enough zaniness in the pool to split the votes of our most volatile faction. He views change as a slow but inevitable process and the administration as a force to be negotiated with.

The Old Head
He'd been out of sight for years (and "on leave" from here) at his new job that was supposed to transition him to retirement. Last night he emailed the whole department about how he was going to retire from here while shifting to take on an exciting new opportunity at another institution. His legacy casts a shadow over everything we do.

*I've asked around, and no one remembers this candidate asking anything about real estate, schools for his kid, or a job for his wife. We're wondering if he's trying to get more money from his current employer.