Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Resolving Disputes Between Faculty

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 15th, 2015



What happens when people on campus disagree, and the dispute ends up in the dean's office?
These fights can be between students and faculty members (usually over grades), between faculty members, between staffers, or even between staff and faculty. Without courses in conflict resolution, without employing expert arbitrators, how does a midlevel administrator keep from becoming collateral damage or making things worse?
It seems to me that it comes down to the question of interests. Deans must consider a lot of different interests, and often it's pretty straightforward to identify them: For example, we support our faculty members, and we support our departments. Those two interests aren’t always congruent. A faculty member’s priorities aren't always in sync with those of that collective entity, the department.
Deans support great teaching, of course, especially at teaching-intensive institutions. And the path to supporting a great teacher is usually pretty clear — except that great teaching without scholarship doesn't remain great teaching forever. So supporting excellent, student-centered teaching sometimes means that we need to push great teachers to focus a bit less on the current classroom for the sake of the classroom a few years down the road — to stay current with scholarship in the discipline, or contribute to it, so they won't be teaching from the same notes in 10 years.


What happens when people on campus disagree, and the dispute ends up in the dean's office?
These fights can be between students and faculty members (usually over grades), between faculty members, between staffers, or even between staff and faculty. Without courses in conflict resolution, without employing expert arbitrators, how does a midlevel administrator keep from becoming collateral damage or making things worse?
It seems to me that it comes down to the question of interests. Deans must consider a lot of different interests, and often it's pretty straightforward to identify them: For example, we support our faculty members, and we support our departments. Those two interests aren’t always congruent. A faculty member’s priorities aren't always in sync with those of that collective entity, the department.
Deans support great teaching, of course, especially at teaching-intensive institutions. And the path to supporting a great teacher is usually pretty clear — except that great teaching without scholarship doesn't remain great teaching forever. So supporting excellent, student-centered teaching sometimes means that we need to push great teachers to focus a bit less on the current classroom for the sake of the classroom a few years down the road — to stay current with scholarship in the discipline, or contribute to it, so they won't be teaching from the same notes in 10 years.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1124-resolving-disputes-between-faculty#sthash.ccJty5Z5.dpuf

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