Friday, July 27, 2007

End of week three

So this is me in my office. The Department of Interior Design has done an EXCELLENT job of hanging my paintings and generally making the place look good.
I HATE my I-Mate phone and its camera. In fact I hate EVERY PART of my I-Mate K-Jam phone. I am putting it here on my blog so that the whole world will know NEVER to buy one.
The camera is dreadful, the phone is unreliable.

Now that that is out of the way, back to the week. On Thursday we had a writing session to work on our papers for the Conference on Interactive Design to be held during the Design Indaba next year.
It was a really good opportunity for me to meet with some of the staff, and to engage in critical disucssion. Although, I did make at least one person very angry.
Now, now, CATTS and others who know me - you're not supposed to say "Gosh, did it take so long?"
Anyway, we made peace. And I am very glad that the person was brave enough to confront me and set the record straight immediately. I really hate it to learn days, months or even years later that I had offended someone, when, if I had known immediately, I could have made reparations!
Nevertheless, what I learnt from the occasion, is that we, as a faculty, need to learn the elements of academic debate. If we are going to get onto the international stage, we must learn to give and take sharp criticism - and also leant to do so without giving or taking offence.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday afternoon

Today we had a writing workshop. I met a number of lecturing staff who are not on the executive committee. That was good. I made one person angry. But I apologised. Now, now, CATTS and other people who know me - I can already hear you say - gosh, did it take that long. But, seriously, I was insensitive, and I am just glad that the 'victim' was brave enough to confront me. I really hate it when I upset someone and they don't let me know - and then I learn about it 10 years later, when things could have been cleared up immediately.
Anyway, we managed to do a bit of discussing about what would constitute a good article, and a number of people are on their way to a good beginning.
Tomorrow is the first REAL Faculty executive meeting and I am looking forward to it.
It will be TWO HOURS long, but I have asked Colin to chair it, because if I were to chair it, we would be there all week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A week and a half later

So last week I spent in Mafikeng and Pretoria tying up loose ends - and using some time reflecting.
I did not take my "blue" book with me, so unfortunately much of the reflection is gone.
Monday 23rd was my first "Real" workday since the academic semester had started.
I began with taking William to school on my way. Imagine my shock when I discovered that I would end up driving to work IN THE DARK!
I thought I would be at the office hours before the rest, but ended up being there last. This is the dedication that the people around me have.
I had two meetings on the Bellville campus - a luncheon meeting with the Vice Chancellor, DVC, donors and the other Deans. Funny thing that - sort of felt like a fly on the wall watching all these people that I don't really know at all, but knowing that actually I was one of them!!
Second was a focus group about educational media. Had to work very hard not to take over the meeting. Did use it to recruit a number of potential students for an M.Tech in Educational Technology!
Then on the way home from Bellville I got lost and spent an hour battling rush hour traffic trying to fight my way home.

TUESDAY I was introduced officially to the Faculty Executive.
I came away from that meeting with a song in my heart. This is absolutely amazing. There are people there all ready, willing and able.
I know I am still starry eyed and maybe a little naive, but I really BELIEVE in this place.
After the introductions three members of the Department of Interior Design came along to hang my paintings and re-arrange my office. I thought it would be a good idea to consult the in-house experts - and it was. Watch this space for pictures!!!

WEDNESDAY I spent in Bellville again, and met some people. I am beginning to get regular feedback about this blog. Some about the content - and some just because they hate the colour from a design perspective.
So, clearly I need to consult again.
So, let me do it here.

PLEASE post suggestions abou improved colour combinations for this blog.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday 13th. The end of the second week

Once again, when I drove to work this morning I thought how lucky I was.
I spent the first 15 minutes of the morning with my new doctor, getting feedback on my medical (I'm over 45, you know) and he says EVERYTHING is cool.
Then the sun basked the mountain in crisp kitch chocolate box light as I drove straight towards it to joint the highway, and then there was no traffic on the N2 and I could coast all the way into the office.
This week I met two new people - David Boonzaier and John Hill - essentially from different ends of the Faculty, but with all the same things in common.
I sort of get the feeling that Mel and the rest put together this excellent Ferrari, parked it at the starting blocks, and said to me: "Now you drive it!" How lucky can one be. Yes, maybe I am naive, maybe I am rushing in where angels fear to tread - but I can't think of a nicer job at the moment.
Our move arrived on Tuesday, and we spent Tuesday and Wednesday in continuous unpacking mode. NOTING was broken. Amazing. The only thing that broke, was a glass that we broke ourselves while unpacking it.
HOWEVER, what set me thinking was how much STUFF we have. And that after everything that we threw away! And a lot of that stuff that we threw away (either in Pretoria or Cape Town) was stuff that we thought we could actually not live without. It reminded me of a research project done by two of my M.Ed students some years ago in which they discovered that in one week a family in Sandton threw away more in kilogrames, than a family in Diepkloof brought in.
Which then becomes a common denominator in my discussions with both John and David.
How much are we as a faculty spending, that we do not have to spend. What sort of duplication are we doing, what sort of unnecessary things are we doing - either just becuase we've always done it, or because we have not thought how to do it better.
There are video cameras lying around only slightly used, by at least four departments. There are subjects taught in various courses that, with a little thinking, can be replaced by one generic course.
I can think of nothing more exciting than to do a major audit of all our stuff, and all our intellectual property, and to see how we can align all that better.
Next week I will be in the greater Tshwane area all week. More time to reflect upon the stuff that awaits.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Friday - One week already!

This morning when I drove in to work I was just amazed at the scenery the crispness, the mountain, the sea.
How privileged I am to get such a nice job in such a city with such scenery.
My first appointment was a deputation from the Faculty secretariat wanting to know when I was going to introduce myself to the whole Faculty staff. The answer is that we will decide upon that date at the HOD meeting on 24 July.
The venue (I hope) will be the Hotel School in Granger bay.
I will spend about an hour doing the presentation that I did to the interview committee who appointed me. I believe that that is the promise I made to the University.
Then I will spend another 30 mins explaining how we will go about fulfilling that promise.
Then we will party.
Of course, all that is subject to what is decided at the HOD meeting.
The morning I spent battling with technology to set up the new computer, and the afternoon we went to Ganger bay for lunch at the Hotel School AND saw the new boat AND saw the rescue pool etc.
This University is going to be a tremendous place to work for.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Day three and four

People are on holiday, so there's very little that I can do about getting to know my new job.
So I am using the time getting to know the way here, and shifting furniture.
I have moved the desk through 90 deg. so that I don't sit with my back to the wall.
It's one of those funny things about a new office, you have to shift the furniture - you simply cannot live the way the previous person had it. No matter even if it is the best possible configuration. It must change. So, now mine is changed.
I am reading through two documents Mel left me - one about the future of the faculty, and the other about its structure. I am excited about that. I am tired of hearing about the history of the faculty - the future is much more exciting.
On Wednesday Mari Lecanides-Arnot came and had lunch with me - pizza from a box in the office - and we disucssed the future of the foundation programme (or extended programme). There are two different programmes running on the Cape Town and Bellville campuses respectively. So, there I have had my first post-merger discussion. Once everyone is back from holidays we will have to settle this one.
On Thursday I had lunch with Pieter van Brakel and we picked up on old friendships, and discussed various aspects of future cooperation. I am very excited about what we can achieve together.
On a personal note, Elaine has painted the house. She also accompanied me on a clothes shopping spree - which turned out to be a good idea, since I have just learnt that our move does not arrive till TUESDAY. Which means an empty house. So now I am booking us into a timeshare for the week!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Reflection on day two

This is why one has to have a blog. SO many things happen so quickly that unless you write it down you forget.
So, on Tuesday I found a new way to get to work - and other queues in the traffic.
THEN I drove over to the Bellville Campus for a meeting with Colin Daniels.
THe qualitative researcher in me is enjoying this. Talk about crystalisation. I am hearing the same stuff, but from a different angle. New facets every time. Some of the data is saturating already. I think that much of what is being written in my big black book (oh yes, I must actually change its cover to a more friendly colour) will make for really interesting research).
From Colin I learnt a whole lot about the processes that are already in place, and the processes that still need to be followed.
Then I had visits from HR and Health and Safety. So I know that I am now human and safe.
I have also had another look at the whole entrance and back office thing, and all those of us in the office had a major discussion about it ...
Turns out we would do well to re-look at the whole layout, and possibly get in some interior designers (we have them in the Faculty, after all) to look at the whole thing. Point is I want the entrance to have a friendly face.
My daughter Elaine came to visit and look at my office, which she pronounced to be cool. And then it was off to Cavendish square for some serious clothes shopping.
Driving home there was this strange feeling that came over me. For the first time ever I was a guy in a car driving home after work in peak traffic. For the first time ever I am an office worker, made out of tickytacky ... And what a funny feeling that was. When I worked at the Technikon in the eighties I drove to work and back sometimes when I did not use the bicycle, but that was to class, not to the office, and never in peak hours. My classes always started before or after peak times. And of course for the past six years I have been working from home on Campus. Now I am a regular commuter and it's quite strange. Only difference is that I should have been driving an Audi, BMW or Merc, not a little red cabriolet with the roof down...
Poor Franci had a TERRIBLE day yesterday. Picfords could not get all the stuff out of the house, and although they promised an extra vehicle, it only took one load and then they went home. We ended up phoning all over to try and get the renovators to move into the apartment a day later, but to no avail. So, Wednesday is going to be a day of chaos for her.
Cavendish has NICE clothes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reflection on day one

Monday 2 July was my first day as Dean of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology ( Like Jan van Riebeeck I am also keeping a diary of my voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. The purpose of this blog is to keep a record of what is happening in the first few days. Also there may be some of my friends, past students and colleagues who might want to know what is happening. Then of course it is for those who will be working with me now - to give them an idea of what is happening so that they can plan, and comment, and generally engage in discussion about the future of the Faculty.

So, the first day is over, and what an exciting experience it was.

It started with an SMS from Juan pointing out to me that there was an amazing sunrise, and a full moon. They had even arranged a break in the wet Cape winter for the Pretorian.

Juan and I greeted with a hug - considering that we had already been corresponding for two weeks, and she had had to do a huge amount of phoning and organising.

She had already put me into contact with Retha, Johann, CV and Colin.

The view from my office is amazing!

Then I got a hug from Mel. She was just happy to see me and couldn't believe I could start so quickly. Both vice rectors came to call! Mandla Tshabalala and Anthony Staak came to welcome me, and it was good to hear of student affairs, and also to get an initial briefing of how things work.

Then we got to do real work, with a long meeting with CV Botha.

The good news is that the Faculty is running well. There are still some post-merger blues to deal with, but they are less, rather than more, and they are administrative rather than "political".

The most encouraging aspect of the day was to learn that the staff are ready for, and looking forward to, embarking on the challenge of developing a research tradition in the faculty. There's none of this "I was appointed to teach, why should I do research" stuff.

Then there's the question that everybody's asking: "What are you going to do with the Faculty?"

So, here is my end of day one reply:

1. I am going to work very hard to establish a culture of research.

2. I am going to re-examine the work loads of lecturers, particularly in terms of teaching and admin, to free up research time for them. The workload will be reduced if we re-think our teaching practices and make it more efficient. We need to think DVD, iPod, SMS, Web. The admin will be reduced if we can automate systems, and make use of more assistants. And the money for the assistants will come form ... subsidies generated from research outputs!

On a more personal note. I am sleeping stoksielalleen in the little 3 bedroomed cottage, with a duvet and a pillow, and my sleeping bag as only cover. And it gets so cold that the cold actually sticks to your skin. But when the move arrives the heater will arrive with it and then I will be able to thaw.

The car arrived late on Monday evening, so now I can drive with the top down when the sun shines, and enjoy the luxury of the ever-present Cape scenery.
And that is the story of Day One. Tomorrow: The great entrance lobby debate...