Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Administration Vacation

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.

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