Friday, July 11, 2008

Bureaucratic Loops

I'm currently in the process of nominating a student for a fellowship. This is a newly created fellowship, and the announcement was recently posted and circulated. Shortly after the fellowship was announced, I emailed my dept chair and asked if I could nominate someone for the fellowship - after all, I am still living on the dept's money, and I wasn't sure if there was going to be a limit of some kind. He said it was fine, so I proceeded to tell the student.

The nomination packet consists of the normal items (letters, CV, transcript) and a proposal. this particular fellowship is targeted to a specific research area. So, I decided that it would be good experience if my student wrote the proposal. He agreed and he did a great job.

Today, I received an email from the XXX Dean of XXX (she also emailed several other profs including my dept chair) saying that the fellowship was for first year students. In the original announcement, it very clearly said that the fellowship was open to current students. So, I decided I would just call and clarify before I wrote my letter of support.

I called, we had a very nice chat, she clarified where the confusion had happened (apparently the press release was wrong, and the fellowship was, indeed, for 1st yr students). End of conversation - or so I thought. 10 minutes later I get an email from my chair asking me to call him.

Apparently, I should not have called the XXX Dean of XXX directly. I should have called him, explained my confusion, and then let him make the judgement call on what to do. No, actually, I should have called my assigned mentor, asked him to call my chair who would then make the decision on .....

Um, a decision needed to be made today, as the application is due in 4 days. Was there really time to bring 4 people into the loop on this? And, I would have thought that creating an endless email chain would have been more annoying? But apparently, that is the route I will be taking from now on.

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