I am preparing for a change in my career, see the story. I have been a dean at Sac State for 7 years, and for seven years before that, at two different institutions. For those of you hesitant to switch to the dark side and become an administrator, my advice is this: Do not listen to people complaining. These are actually great jobs, very stimulating, engaging multiple facets of one's personality, and can be very fulfilling. Most of it is about matching people with other people and resources, helping them to do something that is beneficial and good for the institution and for students. That, basically, is the job description. So when things work out, when you see a simple idea turning into a full-fledged program or a major or a project - wow, this feels good. Of course, when things do not work out, it is all due to unfortunate circumstances.
I had a great time in the Dean's office at Sac State. I worked with a very capable crew of people, most of whom are very independent and run things well if left alone. I like that, I appreciate those who can take charge and see a project from the beginning to an end. Together, we achieved quite a few things. We got out of poverty, created a bunch of new programs. We eliminated graduation gaps between URM and non-URM students. We were able to hire 50-75% faculty of color over the last 6 years. We straightened up a bunch of policies, built a consulting business, strengthened our partnerships, and improved our reputation. Of course, there is a list of things that did not work out; I am not going to dwell on it.
It is nice to leave on a high note. I think 7-9 years is the average shelf life of a dean, after which it is time to let someone else take charge. So I am very grateful to my colleagues, my leadership team, and staff of our college for their support, their incredible ethos, and the strive to always do the right thing. Thanks also for pushing me to improve, for preventing me from doing stupid things. I am still around, so this is not really a goodbye.
So, the vision for the national institute for AI in education actually belongs to President Wood and Provost Nevarez. They learned about my interest and sought to use this interest to advance the institution. This is a great turn of events for me, for I can both stay at a university I learned to love, and also get the change that I need. I have a whole bunch of ideas and am grateful for the opportunity to refresh without a loss.