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.”


May 31, 2011

Handling Complaints: Advice for Academic Leaders

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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.


May 10, 2011

How to Rid Your Meetings of Groupthink

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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.




September 23, 2010

Onboarding vs. Orientation: Getting New Leaders on a Path to Success

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The transition to a new academic leadership position is full of complexities, unwritten rules, and new challenges. Whether the new provost, dean, or chair is new to the institution or has years of institutional knowledge, a simple orientation is not enough to get him or her off to a successful start, says Anne Massaro, project manager and organizational development consultant at The Ohio State University.


September 3, 2010

Eight Things Campus Leaders Can Do to Support Academic Departments

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As a department head, I initiate or respond to seemingly endless phone calls, emails, and letters to and from almost every corner of the campus, the community, state agencies, etc. Our department’s office coordinator is swamped by similar interactions. Our faculty members, while working mostly with students, also interact with many others each day. We must all be well-versed in the “who does what” and “how things get done” on our campus and beyond.


August 24, 2010

Aphorisms for Academic Affairs

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Over the past few years, I have realized that most of the preparation for academic leadership is focused on how to effect institutional change and make a positive difference. These certainly are the “big ticket” items. The truth is, however, that such broad topics don’t really hit on the blocking and tackling of daily management. With that in mind, here is a little collective wisdom that may prove especially useful for those who are beginning their journey in academic affairs.