Since it's more or less been publicly announced at this point, I may as well announce it here: starting July 1, I'll be the new Area Dean for Computer Science at Harvard. Very roughly speaking, academics from schools that use a standard vocabulary (unlike Harvard) can translate that to "Chair" if they like. I'll be filling the shoes of Greg Morrisett, who has been doing a fantastic job. Indeed, from my standpoint the worst part of taking the job now is that Greg has done such a great job he'll be a hard act to follow. (But he's served his time, and will be enjoying a sabbatical!)
The new role isn't really a surprise. At Harvard, we more-or-less take turns in this position, and I knew my turn was probably coming next. The standard is a 3-year stint and that's what I'm expecting. We have a faculty with tremendous leadership depth so I'm not worried about getting stuck with the job. Indeed, one of the great things about our faculty is that we have so many people that can do the job well, and at the same time we have nobody who really wants the job. (An old academic saying, apparently, is to beware anyone who actually wants to be chair.)
I'll undoubtedly self-indulge and write a few more posts about my thoughts on the job before actually beginning it. But one thing that's clear is that how I spend my time will change -- at least, that's the impression I get by the happy jig Greg breaks into these days whenever he sees me -- so it's a good time to reflect on that. And one of the first things that was clear to me is that I'll be shutting down mybiasedcoin, probably sometime in August. Just to be clear, there was no pressure by anyone at Harvard to do so -- indeed, Greg encouraged me to keep it going -- but I think it's time.
The reason is a combination of things. The biggest is that the blog takes time, of course, and I expect to have less time available. I also admit to being a bit burned out after doing it now for 3 years. (It's been that long?) Finally, I worry that the job will involve all sorts of things I shouldn't write about, but might want to, which could be frustrating -- and, potentially, disastrous. (Nobody has called me out on this, but in the blog I write basically nothing about my consulting work -- even though I might like to -- because in most cases that would be inappropriate. I figure the same will happen with parts of the new job.)
There are conferences (STOC, EC, ISIT) to blog about in the immediate future, some papers in the pipeline I hope to have a chance to discuss, and probably some issues in the back of my head that I'd like to blog about before stopping. That's a couple months more of posts.
I don't feel too bad about stopping -- there are plenty of other CS blogs out there, other voices to be heard. If I feel the need, I'll guest post somewhere when I have an opinion.
Which, obviously, I often do...