academic leadership issues
Curriculum changes or differences of opinion about what should be taught and how it should be taught can create tension in any department. And the budget situation in many departments can add fuel to the fire. Jon Bloch, chair of sociology at Southern Connecticut State University, offers the following points to keep in mind to help manage these conflicts:
Campus leaders who want to promote collegiality within their departments need to adopt specific strategies. These include establishing a departmental code of conduct, using various assessment tools to establish criteria for collegial behavior and to measure it, and implementing ways to deal with noncollegial behavior. Join collegiality experts Robert Cipriano and Jeffrey Buller as they share, proactive strategies academic leaders can use to foster collegiality in their programs.
Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Ongoing problems within a department can have profound consequences, including difficulty in recruiting and retaining faculty and students, loss of funding, and even program termination. While the health of a department cannot be the responsibility of a single person, the department chair plays a pivotal role in getting departments out of trouble and maintaining a healthy, positive direction.
For the past 25 years Bernard Sorofman has worked to build and maintain a collegial team within the department of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Iowa. In an interview with Academic Leader, he shared his techniques.
“It begins with recruiting great people who are able to work with others,” Sorofman says. “If you get the right people who are happy working together and are collegial, everything else will fall into place.”
You don’t have to let one difficult faculty member hijack your departmental atmosphere. If you aren’t happy with how things are, if you see room for some improvement, or if you want to make sure future hires do not undermine your current culture of civility and collegiality, this seminar is for you.
audio Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
It’s an issue many colleges and universities are facing today: How do you expand research capacity while still preserving an institution’s traditional emphasis on effective teaching? How is it possible to improve your reputation in one of these areas without abandoning your reputation in the other? How can you expand your mission in an environment of increasingly strained budgets, greater competition among institutions (including public, private, for-profit, and virtual universities), and rigorous accountability? And how do you balance the expectation of so many legislatures and governing boards that you demonstrate student success with their simultaneous expectation that you obtain more and more external funding from sponsored research and the frequent pursuit of grants?
Handling complaints is one of the defining roles of academic administration. It demands perseverance, good listening skills, tact, and adherence to institutional policies and legal requirements. In an interview with Academic Leader, C.K. Gunsalus, author of The Academic Administrator’s Survival Guide (which includes an entire chapter on complaints), offered advice on how to manage this important role.
With the spate of books and articles that deal with the issue of incivility in higher education, it’s easy to conclude that destructive disharmony is the single biggest problem facing colleges and universities today. To be sure, lack of collegiality has become a significant challenge, and nearly every academic leader can recall at least one department or college that became increasingly dysfunctional because of its inability to work together in a mutually supportive manner. But the great deal of attention we pay to the challenges of incivility can cause us to underestimate the dangers of an opposing threat that also exists in many academic units: groupthink.
We tend to think of interviews as processes that select suitable candidates for different jobs. But in many ways the purpose of interviews is to reject unsuitable candidates. After all, by the time a search reaches the stage of meeting a few finalists on campus, the institution is largely satisfied that everyone being interviewed is qualified for the job. The critical question now is, Which of these finalists is the best fit for the program and the institution?
Much attention has been given to the “difficult” or “disruptive” student, and rightly so. However, colleges and universities aren’t just institutions of learning, they’re workplaces as well. And like any workplace, there are colleagues who are a joy to work with, and there are colleagues who can poison an entire department.