A Second Term as Chair?

Ultimately, you have to want to serve another term, whatever the obstacles and disadvantages. Do you have a sinking feeling about the whole thing? Or are you more hopeful than apprehensive? Again, it’s not relevant whether you think there’s someone worthy of succeeding you — this is your decision about your life. Making something of a sacrifice to recommit might be part of the calculation, but it can’t be your primary motivation. 

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How to pull a department out of functional complacency

The Consultancy process usually comprises an initial conversation between the chair and the Consultant, a short written report of the issue that the department wants the Consultant to address, a campus visit, and a follow-up report. I’d strongly recommend that after you get the report the department dedicate significant time to discussing its conclusions. The report might even serve as the grounding for a day-long retreat or at the very least one or two department meetings. That will give you all some time to self-assess and look forward in constructive ways, shaking the department out of the ennui in which it’s found itself.  And from there you’ll be able to come up with possible solutions to your problems that you wouldn’t have been able to generate without the input of an outside observer.

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Disciplinary Deadlock

The disciplinary deadlock you describe makes any kind of meaningful debate within the department impossible, and you want these colleagues to help you break through it. In my experience, expecting people to rise to the occasion usually works, especially since you’ve hand-picked this group of people as less invested in these divides and focused more on problem-solving.

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The Spirit of Compromise

Compromise is working when no one gets exactly what they want, no one feels screwed over, and everyone respects the process. I’d be clear to the faculty that everyone has to take one for the team every now and then, to make class scheduling equitable for everyone.

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What Is Reasonable Accommodation?

I’m running into a problem with our disabilities services office, which on our campus reviews and manages student requests for accommodations such as extra time, alternative exam formats, and the like. In the opinion of some of our faculty, this office regularly moves from its management role to a more charged advocacy role that at times has become almost adversarial, especially in terms of pushing what might the boundaries of a “reasonable accommodation.” As chair I’m caught in the middle of this. I occasionally get informed by the office that some faculty are not being especially helpful, with the implication that I should intervene or pressure them. Similarly, faculty seek my support for the limits they believe they need to put on the office’s requests, which can include telling the office to respect the faculty member’s decisions. I’m sympathetic with both parties–how do I manage these sort of situations effectively?

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Party Poopers and Piscos

At present I find myself sufficiently consumed by the demands of chairing that I don’t necessarily have the energy or desire to plan social events. That’s especially the case when I add in my own family care responsibilities, community activities, and primary friendships with others that aren’t in my department. To what extent is this sort of thing also my responsibility, on top of everything else?

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A Departmental Culture of Responsibility

While I appreciate the need for separation, research time, and even just rest, the business of the department and university doesn’t stop between June and August. I get a one-month summer bump, but that doesn’t cover the whole summer, and I’m still working. Why can’t my faculty?

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NTT Salary Compression

I’m regularly faced with a dilemma—recognizing that like most places we pay our instructors too little, I could raise the initial salary for new hires, but that would leave them making close to what our long-term instructors make. There will be—rightfully—resentment there, but I’m also uncomfortable continuing in perpetuity a bad compensation model. What to do?

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Faculty members in my department traditionally have had the opportunity to teach one graduate seminar each year as part of their 2/2 teaching load. However, a consistent decline in the numbers of students admitted…

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