October 10, 2013

Collegiality: The Cornerstone of a University (and a Profession)

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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.


October 8, 2013

Addressing Issues of Collegiality in Faculty Evaluations

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Two concerns are often raised when department chairs attempt to address breaches of collegiality through the faculty evaluation process. The first is whether they’re permitted to do so at all, since very few faculty handbooks list collegiality as a criterion for reviews. The second is whether evaluation is an effective means of dealing with these challenges, since collegiality is often regarded as something highly subjective and not measurable or verifiable in any consistent way. The first of these concerns can be dealt with rather quickly, while the second will require a much more extended discussion.


September 17, 2013

Advice for Department Chairs: Six Steps for Building a Healthy Department

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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.



April 19, 2013

Exploring the Impact of Institutional Policies on Teaching

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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?


February 5, 2013

A Data-Driven Approach to Student Retention and Success

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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, 2012

Building a Collegial, Cooperative Department

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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.

Hire right.
“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.”


October 16, 2012

Academic Freedom Do’s and Don’ts for Faculty and Administrators

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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.



August 23, 2012

Implementing High-Impact Learning Across the Institution

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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.