Ask the Chair

Departments of language and literature are full of fascinating people and exciting opportunities. But they can also contain difficult people and trying circumstances. Fortunately, Ask the Chair is here to help you with your stickiest quandaries, from perennial problems to unique dilemmas. The ADE and ADFL Executive Committees invite questions, discussion, and requests for advice about department life at or Published letters will be anonymous; feel free to come up with a pseudonym.

Keeping Problems in Perspective

I’m realizing that, as is likely true of most managerial jobs, I am in the Chair’s office to hear about problems. I am there to put out fires and quell…

Inequity and the “Very Important Professor”

A couple of Very Important Faculty Members in my Department hold Endowed Chairs and Named Professorships, publish a lot, and have been doing things their own way for years because they are Very Important and Very Busy. No one likes petty paperwork or attending meetings but we all have to do it. What are some best practices for handling their small, but relentless, refusals to capitulate to bureaucratic norms?

Unsticking the Stuck Professor

I have a couple of faculty members whose scholarly/creative productivity has flatlined. How can I help these faculty get back on track?