Inside Higher Ed
August 25th, 2015
The "Administrators Are People Too"
piece in IHE was quite good on its own terms, but I was struck at how
quickly the comments inadvertently confirmed its thesis. There's a level
of self-righteous vituperation out there that goes far beyond anything
that could be explained by the doings of any one provost or dean. It
comes from something much deeper. And for newbies who cross over from
faculty, the depth and persistence of that vituperation can be
Having crossed that divide myself, and having worked with others who have, a few thoughts to offer newbies.
First, understand that "the administration" is a synecdoche for all
external forces, or for anything that compels a professor to do
something she'd rather not do. The state cuts funding and enrollment
drops, so the college loses revenue; that's largely invisible to many
faculty. But you put a cap on travel, and you're the bad guy. That may
have been the best move available to you, but many folks won't see the
options you had to choose from; they'll only see the one you chose. "But
I made the least-bad choice!" may be true, but many won't care. Social
psychologists call that the "fundamental attribution error:" we
attribute actions to personal characteristics, rather than to the
options available at the time.