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This will be my last semester as Provost.  At the end of June I will return to faculty (I’m not retiring at this point, just changing roles).  Presumably my successor will be selected by March, and I’m told that the search pool is very good.  So for me and in some ways for the University, this is definitely a semester of transition.

I do intend to maintain an active role during the final half year. There are some standard things to accomplish, most notably the provostial review in the normal promotion and tenure cycle, but also enrollment activities, budget planning and the like.  There are still a number of special projects that I intend to move along.  And among other things, I look forward to regular blogging at least until my term is up.

I do obviously think about life after provostship.  I’ve been doing this job now for 14 years, a lot longer than I expected, and I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy most aspects of it.  It will be quite strange to stop.  On the most prosaic level, having to think about what I should be doing on a daily basis, rather than simply fulfilling a fairly packed daily schedule (hopefully thoughtfully, but without much need for self-motivating decisions) will be an interesting challenge. On the other hand, one of the things I have always liked about academic life – in choosing the profession, aided by the example of an academic father – is the opportunity to keep on trucking.  When I entered the career the opportunity to continue teaching was not assured, given retirement rules back then, but it was always going to be possible to continue research and expression assuming continuing interest and ability.  I have a couple of projects I am trying not to start before July, plus a new course to develop for fall (along with my regular offering), so I do intend to be useful in a role I always enjoyed before being bitten by the administrative bug.

I also hope to be part of a constructive transition, once the provost-elect is named and depending very much on his or her own wishes. Passing the baton is an important leadership function; it can be well or badly done, and I aim for the former.

Mason is a lively and advancing institution.  One of the bittersweet aspects of ending my provostship involves giving up a role in the middle of a story still in the making.  This would be true at any institution but particularly at a place like Mason that is still so obviously in the process of self-definition.  But it’s good to be able to move on, personally, with confidence in the university’s upward trajectory.  The best, as they say, is yet to come.

Of course I’ll have a chance, later on, to express my thanks for what has been the most interesting job I’ve ever had, and my pride in what so many of us have been able to accomplish over the past decade and a half.  For the moment, it’s back to work.