In 1997, I went to work as Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at SMU. The Vice President was Jim Caswell. I had seen Jim at my first TACUSPA about fifteen years before that and he had become a friend and mentor over the years. I had worked in my new position for about six months when a mutual friend asked me how it was going. When I answered that all was going well, his response was, “Well you knew it would, didn’t you?” I replied, “I thought so, but you never know, do you. Surprises are always possible.” The friend acknowledged the truth of that. People we know in a professional context can often be quite different to work with on a day to day basis.
Changing roles, campuses, and professional fields can be exciting, energizing, and great fun. But there is always a risk any time one makes a change. No matter how you prepare, what you know or think you know, you can’t know everything, there’s always something unexpected sometimes good, other times not. But of course, movement and change are critical to our growth and development.
A year and a half ago, I made an unexpected move when I stepped into the roles of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Interim Executive Director of Student Affairs for the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing. At the time, I had been talking about retiring, but when the Dean of Nursing asked me to take on these roles, it just seemed like the thing to do. It was a bit of a risk, like any change of position. But here we are a year and a half later and I’m very glad I took the risk. I’ve learned a lot about the inner workings of a college and the mechanics of building an academic schedule. Now, the search committees have done their work and it’s time for me to make another change as the year turns. This week is moving week as I leave the little apartment in Oklahoma City.
So what’s next? Drumroll, please. I’m retiring.
My nephew’s response to me saying that was a surprised, “Can you do that?” He may have a point. Hence the sort of as I’m easing into the big R word.
Starting in January, I’ll assist the college with the transition, supporting a couple of processes that are in progress as well as being the recent history for new people in new positions for three months but I’ll be working from home to do that. I’ll keep the consulting business open and continue coaching. I’ll be available for leadership development workshops and other opportunities for folks who want me to work with them. And I plan to do some more writing so we’ll see what comes of that. I am also looking forward to having a slightly more flexible schedule. I’ll miss my colleagues at the College of Nursing, but I’m looking forward since it’s time to move to the next thing.
I hope each of you had a restful break and are ready for the next few weeks as the semester winds down so you can be ready for whatever change happens next in your world.
PS for those of you keeping count there was too much going on to make my 50,00 words goal this month, but I did get to 25,000. The stretch goal got me to stretch past my usual number of words. I’m planning to try again in December, though it’s also a month of transition and holidays, but it’s a worthy effort. Do you have or need a stretch goal this month? Good luck!!