Setting academic priorities, evaluating faculty, succession planning, making the transition from faculty to administrator, the issues and leadership responsibilities are many, and seem to grow daily. Turn to Faculty Focus for academic leadership articles written to help deans, chairs, and other academic decision makers lead effectively.
If some faculty do not fully embrace their role as academic advisor, don’t assume that they are indifferent to students’ needs or feel that advising is strictly a student affairs function. More likely, this reluctance is due to a lack of preparation and support.
Here are three questions of interest to those of us concerned with institutional support of teaching: 1) Is the strength of an institution’s “culture of teaching” or policy support for teaching and learning reflected in faculty members’ pedagogical practices? 2) Are “cultures of teaching” more prevalent at institutions with “learner centered” policies? 3) Do the relationships between institutional policies, faculty cultures, and teaching practices differ across institutional types?
Higher education institutions generate a wealth of data that can be used to improve student success, but often the volume of data and lack of analysis prevent this data from having the impact it could have. “I think it’s hard for the general faculty population or administrator population to really have a handle on the data that is really driving decisions,” says Margaret Martin, Title III director and sociology professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. “They don’t get a chance to see it or they just get very infrequent information about it. So there may be too much data, but it’s often not communicated effectively to people in ways that are both understandable and useful to them.”
October 18 - Building a Collegial, Cooperative Department
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.”
Have you have heard of Garcetti v. Ceballos? This 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case involving Gil Garcetti, a district attorney for Los Angeles County, and Richard Ceballos, a deputy DA, had nothing to do with higher education and yet it has had a profound effect on the academic workplace, particularly at state-supported colleges and universities.
When you attend a conference, particularly one geared toward academic leadership issues, you’ll find that the most heavily attended sessions are often the ones that focus on collegiality and conflict management. In the face of what seems to be an increasingly uncivil society, the call for collegiality has never been louder.
High-impact learning practices—first-year seminars, learning communities, service-learning, undergraduate research, and capstone experiences—can provide intensive learning for students and improve retention, persistence to degree, and postgraduate attainment. However, to be effective, institutions need high-level support and cross-divisional collaboration, says Lynn E. Swaner, a higher education consultant and coauthor (with Jayne E. Brownell) of Five High-Impact Practices: Research on Learning Outcomes, Completion, and Quality (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2010). In an interview with Academic Leader, Swaner talked about her research and offered suggestions on successfully implementing these practices.
August 15 - Faculty Collegiality as a Synergistic Agent
I have had the privilege to be invited to many campuses to speak about strategies for incorporating a collegial-mindset within the university. A campus culture that values collegiality and civility is among the most important contributions a university can make. Academic departments recognize the desirability of a collegial environment for faculty members, students, and professional employees and that such an environment should be maintained and strengthened throughout the university. In an environment enhanced by trust, respect, and transparency faculty members can be revivified so that they can play an active and responsible role in academic matters. A collegial relationship is most effective when peers work together to carry out their duties and responsibilities in a professional manner.
Does your institution have a policy that addresses bullying? If it does not, there are some pretty compelling reasons to consider creating such a policy. In an interview with Academic Leader, Suzanne Milton, chair of the faculty bargaining unit at Eastern Washington University, talked about bullying and its consequences, and ways to address it to create a workplace more conducive to getting work done without a lot of problems.
In a mixed-methods study, Meghan Pifer, assistant professor in the Academic Development and Counseling Department at Lock Haven University, looked at the dynamics of informal intradepartmental relationships in two departments to determine how networks can affect faculty members’ access to resources, and ultimately their career success and satisfaction.