The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 2nd, 2015
Although the higher education landscape
offers an endless stream of issues to worry about — budgets,
enrollments, degree completion, adjunctification — nothing in the
current climate worries me more than the seemingly unbreachable chasm
between many faculty and administrators.
That breach is so well known that it seems to require no explication
or explanation, and can just be referred to in quick throwaway
stereotypes: Administrators are soulless robots, faculty are entitled
divas. Each side blames the other for being too pushy, too
obstructionist, and too damned expensive.
There’s plenty to be said about the 40-year history of how we got to
this place, and the news does not lack for examples of (yes) bad
administrators and (yes) problem professors. But the fact is, we are now
a house divided. What many campuses could use, it seems to me,
immediately and practically, is a program that introduces faculty
members to the real work of administration (which is significantly less
soulless than some faculty envision) and the individual humans that
conduct that work (read about one such program here).
Similarly, we need a program that puts administrators, at least
occasionally, in the role of faculty — not just observing and evaluating
teaching (which is comparatively easy), but themselves engaging in the
labor that they’d purport to manage and judge.