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The Reluctant Administrator

Being the leader of roundtables on academic administration can be a lonely job. During the past few Design Educator conferences I have led or co-led roundtables dedicated to the topic of design administration. Each time, as the lunchtime roundtable sessions draw near, I sit nibbling cookies and watch as people enter the room and skirt the administration table widely; as if even going near the table might mean that they have already gone to the “dark side.” The perceived dark shadow of administration apparently looms across the table and frightens even those who might be considering the prospect of being a chair or director of a program. Eventually a few brave souls take pity on me and sit down to what usually becomes a very interesting discussion.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that being chair of a department is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming job and therefore some reluctance may be warranted. However, you should know, as a designer you are a systems thinker, a problem solver, a visionary and above all else an effective communicator and therefore, you are a natural administrator. Don’t be afraid to take those skills that you have spent years honing and make the changes that you have always wanted to see, create something new, and elevate the voice and presence of design and design educators on your campus.

So, come on over to the dark side and shine a light, as only designers can do, and make a difference. And, oh by the way, we have cookies over here too.

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Allison Puff is the Acting Assistant Provost of Farmingdale State College as well as being a Professor of Visual Communications. She serves as co-chair of the AIGA Design Educators Steering Committee.

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