Accepting and sharing responsibility for creating a productive work setting within the department and institution result, at least to a great extent, from how well each member of the community carries his or her own fair share of the common workload. The challenges faced by higher education institutions in the 21st century cannot be successfully mastered, nor can the efforts of dedicated professionals be sustained when the actions of a faculty member are divisive, uncompromising, and inflexible. In a similar way, it is destructive to a department’s morale and effectiveness when one or more of its members accept a significantly lower degree of responsibility for achieving a shared purpose. These elements lie at the heart of that salient, fundamental hallmark of successful interactions in academic life that is commonly called collegiality.
Incivility in higher education has flourished in recent years, fueled by a convergence of factors ranging from the infiltration of a more corporate culture and a system that rewards individual accomplishments above collaboration to decreased state funding coupled with increased workloads and expectations. For department chairs, leading teams of educators during such a difficult time can be wrought with unexpected challenges and frustrations.