Thursday, January 07, 2016

ALISE16 : Radical Change? Transitioning from Faculty to Administrator

Panel: Eileen Abels, Kristin Eschenfelder, Heidi Julien, Stephen Bajjaly

The panel worked through these questions:
  • What was your prior professional and academic background?
    • Not asked...does taking a leadership role conflict with a person's role as an instructor and researcher?
  • How were you recruited? Each person's as recruited in different ways.  
    • One thing to consider is if you have caught the eye of a search firm.  For higher leadership positions, search firms may be used and be part of the vetting process.
    • If you are trying recruit a leader, you need to do a lot of outreach.
  • What are the most positive/rewarding aspects of the position? Mentoring faculty, implementing new programs, ability to make positive change, ability to do things quickly, developing a high-level of self-awareness, the opportunity to put your stamp on what the school is doing, new challenges.
  • What are your greatest challenges? The challenges facing higher education, cost, negotiating change/change management, people issues, you're still in a middle management position (must manage up and down), acting as the program's figure head.
  • What was most surprising to you when you took your position? How embedded a workflow might be in the organization's culture. Learning a new culture. Cultural issues. Personal expectations for work habits and career are not universally shared. The difference between your "voice" as a professor versus as a chair/director.  Large things sometimes are easier to implement than small things.
  • What has turned out to be just as you expected?  Nothing has been as one person expected.  It internally changed what happens day to day.  Each day is unpredictable.  It impacts your research efforts.
  • What advice would you give to potential candidates? Test out leadership in different ways, in order to know if it is for you.  Jump in.  Look for people who might be good at it and engage them. Communicate with your mentors.  If you're interested, make it known that you would like to be considered. You will have to step out of our faculty role.  It takes more time and you do more problem solving.
  • How do you define success?  Meeting the needs of students, student experience, faculty success, holding the socio-political mess together.
    • Doing anything interesting takes at least three years.
  • What changes have you observed over your time in your position?  Change is a constant. The field is changing.  Academia is changing. Personnel changes with faculty and staff.  Less reactive as an individual.  Changes in marketing and recruitment. 
  • How do you approach succession planning?  Get people to test the waters.  Get faculty tenured. Have a team.  Share decision making. Recruit externally. 
  • What do you read on a daily basis?  The Chronicle, The Department Chair, various monographs, general news, read items related to your long term projects, trend data, Inside HigherEd, news on your metropolitan area.
  • How do you find shared faculty governance? It is a given. Faculty need to be engaged.  Work the hallways and get people on board before the meeting.
  • How do you deal with failure? Humbly.  Have a thick skin.  "That's life" and move on.  Failing is part of taking risks.
  • How do you advocate for...?  By talking about results.

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