Monday, December 3, 2012

Can the Yawning Divide Between Faculty and Administration Be Resolved?

Having moved from higher ed to secondary ed, I have noticed one thing that has stayed the same: faculty and administration fighting a low-grade war with each other.  At all levels of education, administrators tend to see faculty as a mere obstacle to be surmounted.  From their position in the commanding heights, administrators are constantly hatching plans, and constantly irritated that faculty resist putting them into action.  Faculty, by and large, see administrators and overpaid, air-headed meddlers who are completely clueless about faculty's day to day lives.  Administrators move on from job to job so quickly that faculty pay lip service to whoever is in charge, until the next boss shows up a year or two later.

This low grade war is costly.  I will even admit that there are times that administration proposes major changes worth taking, but that the knee jerk opposition of faculty, spurred by years of disrespect, derails effect change.  On the other side, administration never listens to faculty concerns about implementing their vague, sweeping plans, often leading them to end in abject failure.

I have a few ideas about how the low grade war can at least become an uneasy peace.  First and foremost, faculty need to be given more control over decision making.  Unless they have a seat at the table, they will never take any changes to heart, and proposed changes will suffer from a lack of input by those who actually have to implement them.  On the flipside, faculty need to respond by taking more responsibility for themselves.  This means actively participating in decision making, rather than passively avoiding it.  It also means doing more to hold their colleagues to a higher standard, so that they are worthy of having more power.

Even with more faculty governance, the divide will need to be eased by making administrators less exulted.  Their pay and perks should be cut, so that those entering administration do so for the right reasons, and also so that faculty don't see administrators as removed from them.  Jumping from job to job ought to be a liability for applicants to administrative jobs, which ought to be filled by faculty with real commitment to the institution.  Administrators should take the extra time to mingle and talk to faculty, not just send down directives from on high.  And faculty should be responsible in turn for creating real relationships with their administrators.

This won't create a utopia, or even full cooperation between the two factions, but will at least make positive change more possible.

1 comment:

Jerry Aulenbach said...

This is brilliant writing, and entirely accurate. He's just such a likable guy. And the way e gets out of some situations is extremely entertaining. Smashing the fridge freezer door in the face of a guy who has him at gunpoint, throwing a stack of stationary at someone. Only occasionally does he throw a punch, and even then he ends up hurting himself a lot. I'm also making my way through the series on Netflix. It also takes me back over 20 years ago when I was a second-hand watcher. My Mom used to watch what were even then reruns on A&E. it's only better now.