This may go *poof* soon, but I think I need to write it to clear my thoughts and get on with what I need to do today.
The Chairship of Most Important Committee on campus is vacant, and there is a decent chance that I become the next Chair. A few months ago I expressed my interest and was enthusiastic about the possibility. It is an incredible opportunity for leadership and for learning more about my institution. I also believe that in certain committees, faculty actually do have the chance to shape and/or influence your insitution future. Also, Now, I am more ambivalent about whether I want the job or not. Why?
1- There is the possibility that I become Chair only because no other member of the committee wants it. It is a lot of work, and many people will probably criticize you no matter how good a job you are doing. That, in itself, is not a problem for me. I know that many members of the committee would welcome me as Chair. But I do know that a few people are trying to convince somebody else to become Chair (this other person is somebody I deeply respect) because they think I do not really understand or completely fit with my institution's culture. That is just code for "that Hispanic lady speaks her mind too often and is aggresive. She doesn't understand that in this country, we are more polite". They are right in a sense. I do speak up when I feel it's necessary. I could even be considered hot-headed for American standards. But I understand the culture of my institution perfectly well. I am just not willing to tone it down (more than what I already have) just to "fit". It really is a cultural clash, in a sense (university politics in Argentina are noisy, heated and can be a contact sport sometimes. That is also how higher education is still free in my country). And I am not willing to let that part of my personality go. At the same time, I am not sure I want to serve in such a context.* Yes, stepping down would mean that I don't want to fight the status quo. But the possibility of burning out and becoming bitter is too high, and I have never felt the need to be a martyr for a cause (I am being hyperbolic here, but I think I am also clear about what I think).
2- As I said, it is a lot of work. Amazingly enough, being Chair comes with a 2-1 course load reduction, so I don't think I would be overworked. I would have time to devote to it. And here is the problem: teaching is my passion. It is the end of the semester, and I have a lot beautiful notes left by students piling up in my desk. This year, a few of my favorite majors are graduating, and I am very proud of them and how I helped them (one, in particular, who went through some really tough times but managed to graduate with a double major and a 3.6 GPA). Last week, my Chair asked me what classes would I give up in the Fall if I became Chair of the committee... and I didn't want to give up any! I am excited about teaching.
3-And yes, I am scared of the possiblity. It means putting yourself out there, and become a target. And I don't know whether I have the personality for it or not. Some people thrive in those situations. Myself? I have never really tested how I would react.
*it is not only that. I have been dissapointed by a few other people I had in high esteem, and who have bend over backwards to justify a few situations I find unjustifiable.
As you can see, some days I want to be Chair of Committee, but others I find myself secretely hoping that they convince somebody else to become Chair. The situation will resolve one way or another very soon, but it has been keeping me awake last week