As chair, much of my work feels reactive. Sometimes that's good. For example, when a colleague wants to apply for a grant or other opportunity, and I react by encouraging them, writing a letter of support and so on.
A lot of times it's more neutral: today, for example, I got an email telling me that one of our senior level required courses next semester is planned for the same time as another senior level required course in another major, and there's a student who's a double major and needs both in order to graduate.
The other chair and I chatted, and we came up with a solution we hope will work.
However, our solution involves changing the day/time of one of the courses, and registration starts tomorrow, so things feel a bit tight.
I emailed the instructor to check, and they're willing to move to the other day. But to what time? They didn't say. I emailed to ask.
I mocked up an email to send to all the students who required to take the course (some of whom will plan to take it another semester). I waited.
Finally, I went to the room where the instructor had class starting in ten minutes and asked in person, because email wasn't cutting it. (I hate waiting for people to email back.)
Now I've sent an email to the students I think are most likely to need the course this spring, and another to all majors and minors to make sure that it won't mess up anyone else's schedule to change it. (So far, so good. Fortunately, this is a likely small class, so I'm not worried about 80 students or something.)
Hopefully it will work out. Registration starts tomorrow, so if we can get feedback from students, and it's ok, we'll make the change early and not mess anyone up!
I have a book on department chair leadership that promises to help me move from reacting to things to acting. But I haven't had time to read it, so...
One colleague in the mix complained that this sort of class conflict isn't new, which is true, alas, especially for this program. The thing is, the chair of the other department is also new (last year), and so we're working on communicating better, and also I've tried communicating with another department where we've had overlapping issues before. But even though I sent them our schedule for fall (the most recent overlap) in December of last year, with a note to please not schedule their required courses at the same time... they still did.
This one, though... the advising center folks should have caught it. They were the people who should have noticed that the student had two majors and were advising for both majors, and could have said something to the other chair or me. But they didn't. (They're overworked, too, and have probably never thought to ask about potential conflicts for double majors.)
From the email chain, I'm guessing the advisor in the other major was looking at schedules with the student today, working things out, and saw the problem, and then started emailing to try to solve it. Good for them!
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