It's an very odd coincidence. The first day of my retirement will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of the elimination of the Department of Textiles and Consumer Economics at the University of Maryland. The TXCE department was my home for my first sixteen years of my career at Maryland, first as an instructor on a one-year contract, then as a graduate student, and then as permanent faculty. My last year of the department was as acting department chair, or as I think of it, captain of the Titanic. My duties for the first half of the year were to try to convince a very fractured and contentious faculty to try to preserve some part of our programs. Having failed that, my job for the second half was to negotiate new placements for my sixteen colleagues and myself, and develop a plan for making sure all of our 500 undergraduate majors and 60 graduate students would finish their degrees. As I mentioned in one of my Story-a-Day posts, I have nursed a fantasy of turning the saga into a murder mystery.
What I did write, at the time, was a newsletter article for a professional organization setting out my thoughts on the process and the question of "surviving" departmental reorganization. I found it while cleaning out my office, and thought I would share, in case anyone out there is facing a similar situation. The advice has aged pretty well. Here it is, in PDF form.
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