Next week classes start at DePaul, and I’m working this week on preparing my classes. I stuck to my resolution this year about taking a genuine break from almost everything work-related during the summer, so it feels good to start thinking about the students I’ll meet next week. I love teaching, and it will make me happy to see students again.

The start of this academic year brings with it a new president for DePaul, and one can’t help but be curious about what that will mean for us. As a result, I’ve been paying close attention to the emails he sends. I was surprised to get an email today reporting on the “Perceptions of Campus Climate” survey that went out to faculty and staff in May 2022. The fact that the results are being reported isn’t surprising, but what the president said in his message was. Among other things he said: “The 2022 climate survey results show declining trust in our leadership, concern about our path forward, a yearning for a more networked community, and a desire to define a new standard of work-life balance.” He then concluded with: “Where we are now does not need to be our future reality.” I don’t recall receiving such a blunt message from a DePaul president in a long time, if ever.

Curious, I went to the linked PDF for faculty results and saw something very validating: I am not alone in how I feel. If you look at the results broken down by college, you see that faculty in the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) rate the categories “leadership – deans”, “collegiality”, “general experiences”, “reward and recognition”, and “leadership – executives” as a “disagree” on a 5-point Likert scale. The rest of the categories barely reach into the “neutral” category. CDM faculty rate nearly every category lower than the other colleges at DePaul. The overwork, lack of appreciation, and unhappiness with leadership I’ve increasingly felt in the past couple of years are things my colleagues also feel.

As validating as that is, I actually agree with the new DePaul president that the current situation doesn’t have to be where we stay. Not only do we have a new president, but CDM has a new (interim) dean, and the School of Computing has a new director. I know the new dean and director well, and I trust them to do their very best to make things better. I don’t know the new president so I can’t say I feel the same way (yet), but the directness of his message is encouraging. And I’d really like things to get better. I have about 15 years left in my career, and I’d like to regain the feeling I used to have that what I do matters to the administration. I love my students and my colleagues too much to simply give up and try to ride out my remaining time. I don’t know where we go from here, but I’m hopeful that it will be better than where we find ourselves now.