Women in Leadership – Karan Watson


Karan Watson
Regents Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Provost & Executive Vice President
100 Jack K. Williams Administration Building
1248 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-1248


What made you decide to become an administrator?

A male mentor in the college suggested that I might enjoy a specific assignment, one that was not highly covered in the college, and that it would be a great way to see if I liked and if I was skilled at administration. It was a two year appointment that grew into a sequence of appointments lasting over 20 years.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an administrator?

The most rewarding aspects of being an administrator are the opportunities to positively affect people’s lives and the university’s progress.

What is the most challenging aspect of being an administrator?

There is rarely enough time to have all the dialog and deeper communications (listening, explaining, and exchanging ideas) before actions have to be taken, therefore the opportunities for confusion and mistrust can easily grow over time.

What were the choices you made (and why) related to maintaining (or not maintaining) your scholarship as you took on an administrative role?

For the first ten years, I maintained some of the more traditional scholarly activities, although they’re ramping down. ¬†After that, due to both my time as an administrator and the breadth of my growing administrative roles, these activities have not been maintained. However, I have maintained active roles in my professional societies and organizations.

How have you balanced your personal life with your career?

Discipline is the key. Many people are disciplined in work tasks, but not in how they manage their personal time. Attention and conscious decisions should be made about hours at work, time on email, time working at home, and the use of time away from all work. Of course, their will be days or weeks that exceptions have to be made, as is true for all faculty and staff. Nevertheless, a realization that you are the only person who can manage this, and that your choices will have consequences, is very important to career and life satisfaction. Volume without quality is not the best choice for most people.

What advice would you give to women faculty who are considering administration?

Remember that these roles are service roles, not control roles, but attention to timely decision making even in serving is important. Understand the needs of those you are serving before deciding to change things. Do the job you have and align the things you do to things that you might want to do in a future job, but do not try to do the job you do not yet have.