Submitted by Andrew Dilts
Andrew Dilts in Dean Mary Anne Bobinski’s office as he takes over Dean duties for the day.
On one sunny spring Friday, I was officially installed as the Dean of UBC Law . . . for a day.
The experience was both enriching, educational, and fun. UBC Law’s widely-respected (real) dean, Mary Anne Bobinski, had hosted a competition to see who would fill her shoes. The opportunity was open to all law students, requiring a 500-word submission on what each would do as “Dean for a Day”. It was designed as a true prince-and-pauper experience: one student would take over the dean’s office, parking spot, and responsibilities, and Dean Bobinski would attend that student’s classes for the day.
After my submission won me the honour, Dean Bobinski and I decided that my day would be Friday, March 23. However, I was approached by students, faculty, and staff as early as mid-February. Issues ranged from serious faculty issues to relatively minor technical problems (“can you fix the hot water in the showers?”) to humorous requests (“can you give everyone an ‘A’ this year?”). True to the real dean’s job—or so I imagine—I spent many hours behind the scenes preparing for the job.
On my day as dean, I barely had time to check my email. I have no idea how Dean Bobinski actually manages to get work done, though I know her incredibly helpful staff certainly plays a role. From the minute I showed up in the morning, I had serious meetings with students, staff, and faculty. I also had a few people stop by throughout the day “just to see what the dean’s office was like”. I’m told that the dean often spends many hours late into the evening catching up on emails, and I completely believe it.
Despite the busy-ness, I was able to organize a few creative initiatives of my own. I led students in hosting an inaugural faculty and staff appreciation session in the morning, and ran a special UBC Law edition of Ignite in the afternoon, helping to showcase the diverse experiences and backgrounds of a few members of our extremely talented student body. I was also able to achieve a few UBC Law dean “firsts”: first to use social media, and first to participate in the proud, long-standing tradition of the Trike Race (think: law students relay-racing tricycles in costume while their peers throw water balloons at them). After all, a (temporary) dean should take his job too seriously.
I’m admittedly suffering a bit of withdrawal since the experience. After all, when is the next time I’ll have the opportunity to have such a high-profile leadership role? But I have gained a new respect not just for the dean, but for the staff and faculty who assist her in helping make UBC Law one of Canada’s top law schools. Perhaps I’ll apply again next year.
So what did Andrew’s hectic day as the Dean look like? Here was his schedule:
8:30am: student meeting in “my” office. Issues addressed focused on ensuring proper support systems are in place for all UBC law students, not just those who enjoy success in the current system.
9:00am: meeting with members of the UBC Law Development Office. Two key issues were addressed:
(1) How to better engage students as they become alumni, and engage them in alumni events
(2) Inviting Governor General David Johnston to UBC Law for various speaking events, including the one-year anniversary of Allard Hall (schedule permitting).
9:45am: preparation for other events of the day. Also, updated my Facebook profile to reflect my new position – likely becoming the first dean of UBC Law to use social media.
10:20am: faculty/staff appreciation event. Terrance Lounge at Allard Hall, where coffee, donuts, and fruit were provided for any faculty and staff who wished to attend. Students from representative organizations in the student body (e.g., LSS, Law Review, Careers Committee) were present to offer words of thanks to various staff members. The event will likely become an annual appreciation.
11:00am: another student meeting in my office, followed by a meeting with a faculty member.
Noon: UBC Law inaugural “Ignite” event, helping to showcase the diverse backgrounds and talents of our student body. The event was a real success, and will likely be instituted as an annual event.
1:00pm: UBC Law Review Annual General Meeting. As a member of the Law Review’s board, I was required to attend (as a student). I also officially became one of two Editors-in-Chief for the 2012–2013 year.
2:00pm: meeting with staff members at the UBC Law Library on a number of issues, including non-law student policies in the UBC library, and how to better use the classroom in the library.
2:30pm: more meetings with students.
3:00pm: 40th annual UBC Law Trike Race, where I participated as a member of the “National Trike Race Champions” team (the team that won the inaugural national trike race at the 2012 Law Games). Likely the first dean of UBC Law to participate in this event, though future deans were strongly welcomed.
5:00pm: finally able to relax and celebrate the day – and check my email for the first time – in the office.
6:00pm: closed and left the dean’s office, Dean for a Day no longer.