One of my favorite podcast channels is Sticky Notes Podcast by conductor Joshua Weilerstein. In the episode What Does the Conductor Really Do, he describes a conductor as the silent member of the ensemble who does "nothing, and everything".
According to Weilerstein, professional orchestras can play pretty well without conductors because the musicians play their own parts capably, listen to each other and have no difficulty performing coherently together. However, a good conductor provides the kind of artistic leadership that may elevate music making to "the celestial level".
As the dean of the Schools of SciMath and ITEC, I feel the same way about what I do: nothing, and everything. No, I do not teach classes, advise students or maintain labs. But yes, I am involved in every aspect of our mission, and I do everything to support you and to maintain the key functions of our schools, from teaching to advising and from hardware to software.
In my first annual performance self-evaluation, I was asked about three points of pride about my programs. Instead of selecting three from the many things our team accomplished in 2018/19, my response is:
My schools made a great deal of accomplishments this year because (1) the faculty is student-centered, (2) most of them are open to my new ideas and proactive leadership, and (3) many actions and discussions are faculty-driven.
No, none of our success in AY 18/19 was about me or by me. They were the results of great individual or team work. I just did my part in this ensemble.
Going into AY 19/20, we have great opportunities in many things we do. Let's work together towards the celestial level!
Dr. Ben Weng