Professors gain benefits of administration

Casey Tharp

At Linfield, the tie between administration and academics is close.

Many of the administrators who use their experience to keep the cogs of Linfield turning are also professors with a wide range
of expertise.

For those who have taken on this double responsibility, there is a complex relationship between administration and teaching. Jeff Summers, professor of economics since 1992 and the associate dean of faculty since 2001, still teaches the senior capstone course in economics each year. For him,
teaching and administrating  have resulted in a better
understanding of both.

“Being an administrator has made me enjoy teaching more,” Summers said. “It is a pleasant change from the way I spend the rest of my day. It is rejuvenating.”

He said teaching is important to administration, and it is beneficial for some professors to take on administrative jobs.

“If you’re going to work in Academic Affairs, you need to teach so you can keep perspective on what students and faculty are doing,”
Summers said.

He said he plans to incorporate his experience in administration into the classroom by offering a course on the economics of higher education, one of his areas
of expertise.

“Linfield is like a lab
for a course like that,”
Summers said.

Flexibility is crucial in dealing with the challenges of teaching and administrating at the same time, Summers said. Sometimes meetings will run until class time, and he has to switch
gears quickly.

“I have to think very carefully about preparing myself for that,” Summers said. “I think it is a good thing for faculty to participate in administrative duties because it enhances an understanding of the college as a whole. I am glad I’ve done that.”

Marvin Henberg, professor of philosophy and environmental studies, served as the vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of faculty from 1994 to 2005. From 2005 to 2006, he served as Linfield’s interim president. He said during his deanship he made a point to teach one or two
classes each year.

“I came here resolved to be a teacher who happened to be an administrator for a time,” Henberg said. “I think that is a dangerous position for a dean (to not teach). Not for a president, who has other duties, but the leader of academics needs to be involved in academics.”

Henberg taught one January Term class during his interim presidency, Environmental Ethics, because no replacement instructor was found in time.

Henberg said his teaching affected his role in administration and remembered advice from Summers.

“If you’re approaching administration right, it’s a lot like teaching,” Summers                   told Henberg.

Henberg said in administration, people need reasons to act, which the administrator has to give. He said it is the same in the classroom. Students have to give reasons for positions, and the professor has to teach
with reasons.

Henberg said he had always intended to keep teaching, and he would like to think he was a better dean because of it. However, it is often challenging to hold both jobs at once.

“Even though sometimes I wondered why I was teaching when I was so busy, I never regretted it at the moment I stepped into the classroom,” Henberg said. “That made me remember why I was in academics.”

Henberg said it is important for administrators to stay in the classroom.

“After all, the magic of the classroom is why we’re all here, even though sometimes it doesn’t seem
that way.”

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