Friday, June 28, 2013

And Thanks For All the Fish

As my Area Administrator Tristen reminded me, " is officially your last day as my boss..."  Monday is July 1, which officially ends my term as Area Dean for Computer Science at Harvard.  The indefatigable David Parkes will be taking on the position.  (Thank you, David!  And my condolences!) 

While a ponderous exposition of all the wonderful things that have happened in Harvard CS is clearly called for, I'll try to keep it brief.  My main goal in taking the job was to turn our small group into a somewhat larger group, and I feel that has gone well.  We've hired five new excellent faculty over the last 3 years (Ryan Adams, Eddie Kohler, Jelani Nelson, Yaron Singer, and Stratos Idreos).  We've also done well in promotions, including multiple successful tenure cases, which was the other really important part of my job.  In other news, CS enrollments at Harvard are still booming, and while credit for that certainly belongs to others (a shout-out here to David Malan, who keeps bringing more and more students into our intro CS 50 course somehow), as Area Dean, I consider it my job to take credit for it.  (Similarly, while I'm at it, I'll take some credit for Les Valiant finally winning his long-deserved Turing award!)  Our faculty, who have always been friendly, cooperative, and worked together well continue to do so.  So I didn't break anything there (which is probably as good summary as any of my past three years).  My job was really to be a buffer with other administration so the rest of the faculty could go about their business being as great as they are.  And, as I've said, then taking a share of the credit for their greatness afterwards.  

I've already thanked all the faculty for putting up with me the last few years.  But special thanks goes to my Administator Tristen Dixey, who insists on calling me "boss" even though it's quite clearly more correct the other way around.  She makes CS at Harvard go.  And while all the faculty are always helpful, I very frequently leaned on the trio of Harry Lewis, Greg Morrisett, and Margo Seltzer for Area Dean advice, to make sure I didn't do anything too stupid.

Other thanks go to my graduate students -- both Zhenming Liu and Giorgos Zervas who previously graduated, and Justin Thaler this year -- for keeping me involved in (their) research.  (And all my other collaborators as well, but my students especially.)  Sorry you had to put up with me administrating while you were busy doing the work for graduating.   

It's hard to believe it's been three years.  I imagine someday I may find myself taking on another administrative position.  But for now, it's a nice feeling just to be done with this one.  

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