HomeOn Higher EducationThe Oft-Troubled Relationship Between University Faculty and Administration: A Conversation


The Oft-Troubled Relationship Between University Faculty and Administration: A Conversation — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Oft-Troubled Relationship Between University Faculty and Administration: A Conversation | Concordia University of Edmonton

  2. Jonathan and Tim,

    Engaging conversation! Thank you.

    You tackle indeed a most complex issue here; and your exchange makes that daunting complexity clear. Permit me to address a single, very narrow, wedge of the pie. In my close to four decades at Concordia, my perception was that most of the deans I served under had keen understandings of the workings of the institution and of the pressures and demands exerted on it by external forces. They also understood well their responsibilities to their own superiors. Both of those are absolutely necessary. What they were missing was a grasp of their all-important responsibilities to their subordinates. As I saw it, they conceived of their job as passing on to me the directives from above; my job then was to carry out those directives. Insofar as my perception there was accurate, what these leaders were lacking in their approach to their job was any concept of leadership.

    One (perhaps the crucial) component of leadership is the responsibility to enable one’s subordinates to become the very best they can be. That entails, among other things, developing a very positive working relationship with each of one’s immediate subordinates—and a relationship is always a two-way street. Subordinates must be convinced that their leader is on their side, is personally committed to their individual welfare.

    Leadership training is—sadly—not a part of the formation of academics. That void is unfortunate because virtually all academics, in the course of their careers, are called into some kind of leadership roles (not to mention that the training has important implications for classroom teaching).

    What I would suggest here is that Concordia engage in a faculty-wide program of leadership training. It would bring immediate benefit to those already holding leadership positions; it would also offer valuable insights to those who will do so down the road (as well as a notion of what they can expect from their superiors). This could be redone at periodic intervals in the future, or it might be an ongoing online program for new faculty. (I leave unanswered the question of how best to offer such a program. You can determine that better than I can. Might it be kicked off in the context of a faculty retreat? …) On the issue of content, there are scores, maybe hundreds, of book titles on the topic of leadership. Perhaps a faculty member of the School of Management could suggest a path. In the end, I believe it to be of utmost importance that leaders understand leadership.

    Again, thank you for your post.

    • Thanks very much for your insightful comments.
      Concordia’s administration and board have actually recently initiated a program for leadership development.
      Thanks again.

      • I’m delighted to learn this. I believe–and hope–it will help bridge the faculty-administration gap. Thank you.

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