What happened when the dean’s office stopped sending emails after hours

By | April 17, 2018

email icon showing 14,359 unread messages

When LSA English professor Anne Curzan became associate dean for humanities several years ago, she—like many professors who take on administrative roles—was overwhelmed by the uptick in email traffic she faced. It also became clear that the majority of people in the dean’s office were swimming in email as well, spending hours every evening dealing with messages that had come in over the course of the day. Curzan, along with Andrew Martin, dean of LSA, proposed a bold solution to the dean’s cabinet: instituting a policy that bars sending email after hours.

“There was a great deal of skepticism,” they write in a recent article describing their plan. “Colleagues were concerned about how they could do their jobs responsibly with email curfews at night or on weekends. Without a doubt, some remained very skeptical that it would make any difference.” But it has, according to Martin and Curzan. “We would go so far as to say it has been transformative—so much so that some people who manage their own teams have adopted these norms within their offices.” Read their story in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.