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ADVANCE at WSU Second ADVANCEing Institutional Transformation Workshop October 16, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "ADVANCE at WSU Second ADVANCEing Institutional Transformation Workshop October 16, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 ADVANCE at WSU Second ADVANCEing Institutional Transformation Workshop October 16, 2012

2 WSU Chairs Talk Back Their Roles, Their Departments, and What They Need to be Successful

3 Researchers Amy S. Wharton Ph.D., Co-PI and ADVANCE Research Coordinator; Director, College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Sociology, WSU Vancouver Briana Keafer Graduate Research Assistant, Educational Leadership Mychel Estevez Graduate Research Assistant, Sociology K.D. Joshi Ph.D., Professor, Management Information Systems Gretal Liebnitz Ph.D., Assistant Director, EXCELinSE Center Kelly Ward Ph.D., Professor, Educational Leadership

4 Why Chairs? “ Being a chair is not about having some power because if that is the way you feel about it, you shouldn’t be doing it.” “And, I think you’ve hit the right level. If anything’s going to happen here, it has to happen at the chairs’ level. I mean, the Provost and the President can squawk all they want. The deans can scream and yell and pound their chests. But, the rubber hits the road at the unit levels. And you’ve got to have the right leadership there or else nothing’s going to get beyond that level, beyond the chair. So, I think you’ve hit exactly where, if you want to transform this place and make it better, you’re looking at the right layer of the organization. So, do good. “ “So I came to the conclusion that the only way to change a department significantly is to change faculty.” “I sympathize with the UN peace keepers, in just trying to mitigate and contain rather than eliminate. Because these are adults and you can not send them into their rooms for time outs.” I think I II “In times of budget challenges, chairs need more flexibility rather than less.”

5 Upper Administration Department Chairs Faculty Boundar Boundary Spanner

6 Data Collection and Sample  52 phone or face-to-face interviews with chairs and directors (including academic directors on urban campuses)  Interviewed all STEM chairs and selection of non-STEM chairs  Interviewees from all colleges and all four campuses in the WSU system  About 21 percent were women –slightly higher than overall percentage of chairs who were women

7 Interview Topics  Being a Chair  Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement of Faculty  Climate and Collegiality  Policies, Practices, Resources

8 Data Analysis and Confidentiality  Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed.  Used a qualitative data analysis software program.  Coding of interview transcripts (identified by a case number) according to general themes, which were gradually refined.  No names associated with interviews during coding and identifying information within the text (including pronouns) was removed.

9 …. “I think I was the default “I think I was the default choice, because that set wasn’t very large, in terms of how many people they thought could [do all of the tasks that needed to be done]… So, that’s really why I got chosen. I’d be honest with you, it’s something that I never, ever wanted to do. And, I literally got dragged into it kicking and screaming. And, it took a long time by a lot of people to convince me to say yes. And, I am not sure it was the best thing for me, to be honest with you.” Becoming a Chair: Three Narratives

10 “I took on the job of chair because someone had to do it. The department has a lot of momentum going forward. So, I stepped up to being chair, because I didn’t want to see that being lost. And of the other full professors in the department, no one was really interested in being the chair.”

11 The Learning Curve: Steep, Often Informal, Getting Better “It is very important job but it is one that you don’t have to have any training to do, and most people come to it completely inexperienced.” [The previous chair] “had given me two tiny little pieces of paper that were about two inches long with little scribbles, and those were my duties as chair.”

12 Being a Chair: Job is Inherently Difficult and has Gotten Harder “Chairs are in a really difficult position because we are faculty members and we are administrators, and we are where the rubber meets the road…It is just a lot tougher than being a faculty member. And I think there aren’t many rewards, unless you step back like we’ve been doing today, and that’s probably why me and other chairs might go on and on about this stuff.” “Some people say that it is the worst job in the university because you have a huge amount of responsibility and very little authority. The chair is a faculty member as well as being an administrator, and so you are kind of, on the one hand, I’m a part of the department, and on the other hand, I’m a part of the administration and the university. It is a pretty challenging tightrope walk.”

13 “[…] the interface between different worlds, which I hadn’t realized until I emerged out of the rank and file faculty. To be a chair doesn’t mean that you are the best scholar or the best teacher, but it means that you are doing a role for a time, and it is a huge opportunity and the responsibility to represent the department and defend its interests. At the same time it is not just about the department. Seventy-five percent of the time, I’m pretty excited about what I’m doing because it’s an opportunity to really help shape the environment in my department for the better.”

14 The chair’s job has gotten harder…. “It seems that over the last two years as you lose people, the main mission [of the University] has become filing reports. Everybody is trying to justify their existence by asking for another report or something of that nature, and so actually it has just been kind of ugly. And a whole lot of unnecessary things.” “…there is constant pressure for added bureaucracy, added administration, added reports…everything is all about more and more administrative reports and stuff like that….The amount of time going to report type stuff, or engagement in what I would call administrative (and in administrative I put everything that is not teaching and research) is just growing. So in that sense it is becoming a worse and worse environment.”

15 What Chairs Like about their Jobs: Developing People and Programs “…it’s been really fun to hire some really good people and mentor them through that whole process of developing a research program, teaching skills, getting grants and things like that….There aren’t a whole lot of rewards in the job itself, except helping other people succeed...You spend so much of your time dealing with all of the stuff that has to be done – managing the staff, dealing with student and personnel problems, etc. – so I think the real rewards are seeing the unit accomplish things. Which basically means motivating and helping the faculty do things.”

16 Building a Diverse Faculty: Complications and Challenges

17 Diversity valued…but “I don’t know of anybody who is opposed to advancing diversity. I don’t get comments from any faculty member about that. I get comments from retired faculty about that, but not from any current faculty.” “This faculty is very supportive of trying to get more women. It is always a goal to increase women and minorities on the faculty; it is just that the opportunity to do so doesn’t come along very often, which is frustrating.”

18 Pools, Pipelines, Perks, and… “I think that the biggest issue that we have is finding the diversity within the pool that applies…the lack of diversity in the pool is a reflection of the lack of candidates in the pool with the qualifications that we would look for.” “If we found a good [underrepresented] candidate, we’d be competing with the best institutions in the country. We’d be competing with the highest start- up funds that anybody has and we just can’t compete. So, we’re stuck with that.” “Someone who does a work shop will say ‘maybe your ads aren’t inclusive enough,’ or ‘you’re not contacting the right sources,’ or whatever else, but the reality is it is a really competitive pool.”

19 Pullman “…many of the diverse faculty that I’ve had experience with since I’ve been here have come from pretty significant urban settings, so how well will they acculturate to a small town environment, how well will they be supported? I think that is a barrier.” “For single women there is a discomfort about Pullman. I feel like they think this is the end of the world; they won’t be able to meet the kind of person that they would like if they are here. And the other side is, if they have a spouse [who is an academic] and you are not really ready to step up and provide a full position, it is not going to work either.”

20 Chairs’ Role in Promotion “The chair probably has a better idea as to whether they are ready or not. There is no magic number of pubs or grant dollars or whatever… Frankly it is more of a gut feeling in my mind than anything else whether somebody’s ready.” “Once it gets to the point where the official paperwork is put in place…it usually goes through.”

21 Mentoring Associate Professors? “The administration doesn’t like associate professors in place forever. They hate that. But faculty say ‘I know the game. I’ve seen the documents. I know what I have to do. You don’t have to teach me about that. You don’t have to advise me about it. I’m trying to do it.’ Frankly, I don’t think [mentoring] would work well, certainly not for the personalities I have here.”

22 Collegiality means…. “doing a good job and not getting in anybody else’s way. And participating in service to the department and to the university so that the burden is shared equally. Everybody is special, but nobody is so special that they get exempt.” “doing your share of the work and not making other people miserable.”

23 Collegiality and Productivity “You hear stories around campus about some very good, very productive faculty that are almost anti- social. They are very aggressive and competitive to the detriment of other faculty. I don’t see that here in this department, and I don’t think that our department culture would tolerate it….We try to reward success, but we don’t reward people that step on others.” “When we are interviewing people we would be turned off by someone who said ‘I’m going to be an active researcher and the only way I can do that is to be setting up an office at home, so I will see you two days a week, and the rest of the time I won’t come in.’ That wouldn’t be a good fit for here.”

24 Negative Departmental Climates Department Chair (Pullman): “If there is a climate thing in [our department], it is not with the people here in Pullman. It is our connection with the people on the urban campuses.” Academic Director (Urban Campus): “Internally the climate is very positive. Externally, meaning between the campuses, rather tense.”

25 Budget Cuts and Faculty Morale “ I have not found the solution as to how to improve morale, because I do think we have a problem with that. There are tensions. I don’t think that getting everybody together for a picnic over the summer is going to solve that…From the faculty member’s perspective it really isn’t as fun as it used to be.” “The climate in the last couple of years has declined really dramatically. It has really gone downhill. No optimism. The budget cuts have made things very difficult because of the number of unfilled positions and people trying to protect their areas…It makes it difficult for people to get along because people are going to be a little bit more on edge…”

26 WSU Climate “Pretty uptight and pretty unhappy group. I think morale at the university is as low it’s ever been.” “We’re in the Titanic, it feels like. We’re clearly in a very difficult situation and we have to make some really hard choices: women and children versus men. I mean, I’ve never seen it this bad.”

27 WSU Climate: A Lack of Trust “It feels as though there is a lack of trust with regard to what we are doing at the departmental level and once that starts to erode, then you are really going to end up with sour grapes and negativity.” “To be honest, I feel like chairs aren’t respected at this university by the administration. They look at us like faculty members and all the faculty members do is gripe and all chairs do is gripe.”

28 Conflicting Signals “…if you look at it from a certain level, there are lots of contradictions. We moved into a research, research, research focus—you know marching orders from the top…But we have undergraduate programs that need to be supported. You could do that through a heavier use of adjuncts and clinical faculty if you had the budgets to do that. But, we don’t have the budgets to do that, so that’s an inherent contradiction. It ends up with people confused. It’s a new culture. It ends up with dissatisfied associates and confused associates who are the backbone.”

29 What’s Working  Deans and Associate Deans who back them up: “They back me up if I need to make a difficult decision. If a faculty member goes around me, they get the same answer up the line.”  Support from the Provost’s Office (“I just call Fran”): “When I ask [Fran] a question I feel like I’m going over several people’s heads, but we have a friendly relationship, so I can ask her.”  Staff: “with invaluable knowledge and experience”  Senior Faculty: who could function as a “sounding board” on tough decisions

30 What Do Chairs Want?

31 Opportunities to Engage Other Chairs “If there is one area that is missing [it is that] I don’t know what other chairs’ lives are like.” “…an opportunity for chairs from not just within the college, but maybe across the colleges and disciplines at WSU to get together. It could be a roundtable with a moderator to handle certain strategic issues or key common issues, a workshop, or something like that. There is a lot of experience out there that I’d love to learn from.”

32 Clarify and Communicate Roles and Responsibilities “should be clear bright line roles of faculty and administration in terms of what they do, what they have prerogative over, and what they’re responsible for.” “…most people on the Pullman campus don’t even know what a director is. The relationship with the urban campuses has not been very well defined, and that has created some difficulties in trying to get things done. It’s just a matter of knowing who to talk to and who’s responsible for what. I think that should be clarified and fixed, so it will be clear. People can look up an academic director and know what it is and what it means and deal with us accordingly.”

33 Succession Planning I “I think it would be really helpful for them to find a way to integrate faculty into some kind of pathway or development process where they would know about administration and learn about it, and cultivate the skills for it, so that when they became chair it wouldn’t be such a learning curve. And I don’t know if that means that you have a shadow chair for a year, or if that means setting up workshops, but I think that could be really important.”

34 Succession Planning II “There isn’t anything for chairs when they are done. You made decisions. People are mad at you. You just go back into the faculty…I’ve been so interrupted and pulled at in different directions that [my research] has deteriorated a lot.” “I don’t know if you will interview recently ex- chairs, but I will tell you that in this college there are some chairs that recently stepped down, and it is a very tough transition back.”

35 Flexibility “Let us know what our budget is and then let us manage our money. We don’t need to be micro-managed.” “the lack of flexibility on occasion has sent searches sideways.” “…you have to be dynamic at the chair’s level, you have to have a certain degree of autonomy, and you have to be able to solve problems fast.”

36 Assurance and Clarity: Start-Up “One of our biggest struggles is startup. It is very expensive, but if you want to compete, you have to deal with it, and the university changes its mind on how it is going to deal with that. At a certain point there are funds in central, and then ‘no, that is all gone, it is all on the department to come up with the funds.’ I think if we had a more coherent policy with respect to that kind of a resource that would have a big impact on recruiting.”

37 Assurance and Clarity: Partner Accommodation “I’d say that [partner accommodation] has been the biggest help and it’s getting to be the biggest problem in that the resources for for that are declining.” “Sometimes the partner accommodation program runs out of money and that is really hard. So I have to be honest and say, ‘well, we will try to get this through, and we will see what happens, but I can’t guarantee it, and there are no promises.’ That is not a good thing for negotiating.”

38 Assurance and Clarity: The WSU System “We’ve gone from the illusion of how things worked to realizing that nobody knows how this system works.” “When I first came here, it was kind of like ‘Why don’t they pay more attention to us?’ And then after you are here for three years, it’s more like, ‘Why are they bugging us? Why don’t they leave us alone?’

39 “That tightrope of needing to maintain a relationship with Pullman and at the same time tamping it down a bit – it’s a source of friction and some tension. In one case I had a [chair] in Pullman that said ‘I wish we didn’t even have a program in [campus]. It’s just a pain to me.’ We’ll get that from some of them. On the other hand, some people see it as a way to do some outreach and expand their programs. So, that relationship causes some tension.”

40 LAST WORDS “Being a chair is not about having power because if that is the way you feel about it, you shouldn’t be doing it.” “You can’t like being chair too much. If you are too much in love with being chair, then you aren’t going to be an effective chair, because you will be too afraid to make the decisions you have to make.”


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