Academic despotism, praised in iambic tetrameter

Department Head

“His kingdom isn’t large, but still
He rules it with a royal will
And, as his colleagues sometimes moan,
Needs but a scepter and a throne.
Part teacher only, he’s between
A full professor and a dean.
More like a congressman, by rights,
He represents his field and fights
For added space and extra books,
More office space and shelves and hooks.
He counts his majors, keenly knowing
He has to make a stronger showing
Or (how his loyal heart is torn)
His budget will be sadly shorn.
Above his colleagues quite a distance,
He has a phone and two assistants
And teaches what he wants and when
And takes a day off now and then.
The students all are scared to death,
The new instructor holds his breath,
The others envy, hate, admire,
And try to guess when he’ll retire.”

-Richard Armour, 1956, College English 17(8):450. (There are other examples of this doggerel out there too.)

Let me just note that it’s interesting that the three themes of this poem are: the structure of departmental power (somewhere between monarchy and legislative bargaining); the budget and material supplies (down to the shelves and hooks); and the chair’s affective relations with colleagues and students (envy, fear, suspense, admiration…).