As I plan My Year Away, it also means that I get to observe the process of sorting out whom to hire to replace me. In order for me to go on sabbatical, we have to have a new administrator at the helm.
This has caused me to remember some of the interviews I went on as I explored other administrative positions. I’ve been struck anew about the similarities of administrative job talks. Typically candidates meet with faculty, staff, search committee members, etc., all so the academic unit can weigh in on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. The candidates also almost always present a “vision for the future.”
Here’s where the sticky wicket begins.
Be too proscriptive (“If I come, here is what I’ll do,”) and the faculty will shoot you down for “not listening,” not “respecting faculty governance,” having too heavy a hand, you name it. But, be too tentative (“I would need to get to know the unit before I could say for sure”) and the candidate is viewed as a wimp.
What to do? What to do?
Sometime during the talk, faculty governance inevitably comes up. The candidate will wax poetic about how he believes in faculty governance, how he reaches for consensus, how he wants to hear from everyone.
And then, here’s what happens. A faculty member will pipe up about a very specific idea. It’s well thought out because, well, the faculty member has been thinking about this idea for a very long time. The faculty member wants to make sure that the idea is in the ethos because he wants the potential new administrator to know what the faculty thinks is important.
Except it’s not the faculty’s idea. It’s one faculty member’s idea. Other faculty members have other ideas. Obviously they think their idea is brilliant because, well, it’s their idea so how could it not be?
Higher education attracts all sorts of people, but a common element among them all tends to be that they are individualistic and like to work independently. (Admittedly, it’s something I, too, love about the academy.) How can anyone build consensus in that environment? Too often “consensus” leads to “lowest common denominator”—not too exhilarating.
So here’s what I think. Forget consensus. Rather, seek vigorous debate. Faculty governance really means “shared governance.” It doesn’t mean everyone has to agree on a direction—or even that the faculty have to “approve” every decision in the academy. It does mean faculty have to be involved in many (but not all) decisions that occur on our campuses.
As I get closer to the start of my sabbatical, I’m already realizing that I am ready for a true breather from all the babble and gaggle of faculty governance. But, truth be told, I will also miss the vigorous debate. I’m going to try (really, I am!) to remember that when I return to work as a “regular” faculty member, I don’t have to push my personal agenda. I don’t have to weigh in on every single event in my academic unit. I will let the new leader lead.
January 30, 2014 at 9:24 pm
Pick your battles! I sure wish more people remembered that!
Pingback: And So, The End Is Near…But Did I Do It My Way? | My Year Away
September 23, 2014 at 3:58 am
It isn’t retail but there was a book sale at my neighborhood library and boy did I ever clean up!
You will find just as well numerous books within the world that I want to buy and I managed to acquire plenty of my
favorite books (some I’ve read, some I haven’t!) a single giant re-usable bag for only $5!
I literally felt like I was robbing the library as I left.
September 23, 2014 at 8:28 am
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just
posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?
September 24, 2014 at 2:58 am
While the simple and classic whisk is great for many
tasks in the kitchen, there are some times and some recipes that require more speed and dexterity with the
mixing, and that’s where these valuable devices come in. They are heavy duty and if taken care of properly,
can last a long time. With it, I just insert the probe, program the device to the temperature that I want,
and continue on with whatever I have going on elsewhere.
September 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm
Iwas curious if you ever considered changing the structure
of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got tto say.
But maybe you could a littl more in the way oof conjtent so
people ould connect wityh it better. Youve got an awvul
lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you
could space it out better?