In addition to teaching I have for the past few years carried a semi-administrative responsibility to be a general faculty resource — to do stuff to help colleagues with their research. The fun part is reading draft papers (although I'm terribly behind at the moment because my energy levels are still not back to normal). The boring parts are compiling information that may be useful for people and writing memos about them, or doing various administrative stuff to foster interdisciplinary cooperation.
Some places call this function “Research Dean” or “Assistant Dean for Research” or something like that. We've never given it a decanal title, which is good, as I never want to be a Dean (shame about the decanal budget, though). Until this week, the job was called “Director of Faculty Development” which was a pretty horrible title, one that sounded like a fund-raising post. I never liked it. Now the job remains unchanged, but has been re-named “Coordinator of Faculty Research” which is less bad, but still a little creepy as it sounds as if I could actually tell someone what to do research on, which of course I cannot and would not want to do.
Finding a name that accurately reflects the enabling but non-directive nature of the post is difficult. When the Dean proposed changing the title, I suggested “Faculty Research Guru” but apparently I'm the only person who finds that funny. Booster, Stimulator, Invigorator, Promoter, Facilitator, all have worse connotations than “Coordinator”, suggesting respectively PR, electroshock, a need to combat morbidity, Florida land deals, and those folks who run a certain type of meeting. So I'm a “Coordinator” until and unless someone comes up with a better word.
The rebadging comes along with the appointment of colleague Frank Valdes to be the first “Coordinator of Junior Faculty Development”. I'm still going to be doing whatever I can for junior faculty, but now there will be two of us — a good thing as the number of people teaching here who do not have tenure is suddenly very large: add up the untentured tenure track, the clinical people who haven't yet progressed to long-term contracts, and our new bumper crop of a dozen or so writing instructors, and you're looking at more than twenty people, certainly more than I can handle alone, especially in my current improving but still low-wattage state. Junior faculty will thus be able to pick either, both, or neither of us to read their papers or give them advice. And those who pick both to read their work may get usefully divergent advice.