In the now famous presentation at the 2008 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Long Beach, California, Benjamin Zander, the music director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, spoke of the insights he gained into what makes a conductor great. Zander noted that only after 20 years at the podium did he realize that the conductor is the only person in the orchestra who “doesn’t make a sound. He depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful.” (Zander, 2009)
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
advice to new academic leaders
As the new department chair, you are pleased when a graduate student comes to you to discuss her career. That pleasure fades, however, when you find that the conversation is not about choosing between job offers, but about a consensual affair she says she has been having with a faculty member up for tenure. The student says she had been trying to end the affair, but the faculty member has resisted, even threatening to delay her degree. Although she says she has talked to every member of her committee as well as the student advocate, she refuses to file a formal complaint or let her name be used for fear it will damage her career. However, she suggests to you that the faculty member does not deserve tenure.
An increasing part of any academic dean’s week is fielding calls (and sometimes unannounced visits) from concerned parents. These so-called “helicopter parents” are well-known to student life professionals. In the past, they’ve called to try and influence the admissions process, to negotiate improved housing assignments, and to manage the personal lives of their children.
Most higher education institutions are not organized to encourage, support, and reward collaboration. Yet, collaboration—across disciplines, functional units, institutions, and organizations—is a highly effective way of dealing with complex issues.