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Author Topic: Drafted as Temp Chair and Need Advice  (Read 5509 times)
leadbelly
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« on: November 19, 2012, 11:44:41 AM »

My CC has been without a department chair for about a year now. Our current chair became dean, and admin has not opened the chair position for hiring. Last spring, the dean also served as the chair. This fall I was drafted to serve as a not-quite chair; I have mostly been working with adjuncts so far but have also run department meetings, worked on scheduling, worked with FT faculty, and done other chair duties.

For next spring, I have been voluntold by admin to be the temp chair. The CC is hoping to hire someone (not me!) for the position next summer. I love my department, but I have a few concerns and would appreciate some help from the mighty Fora.

1. The faculty have a very heavy teaching load (6/6), so there is lots of resistance to attending meetings and serving on committees. The phrase "more with less" gets thrown around a lot, and faculty are just plain tired. Many simply want to keep their heads down and just teach. Aside from lobbying to reduce the teaching load and making sure that my own meetings are quick and to the point, how can I help?

2. We are a small department (15 people). Of those 15, I am very close friends with three of them. We spend time together on weekends, watch each others kids, and have spouses who are also close friends. I do (I think) pretty good job of separating work life from social life. But then again, I've never been a friend's supervisor. Those of you who have been chairs and maintained close friendships with faculty members, how did you do it?

I've check the old threads but haven't seen any questions quite like these. If I have missed something, please post the link to the thread so I can catch up.
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goofish
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 5:50:31 PM »


1. The faculty have a very heavy teaching load (6/6), so there is lots of resistance to attending meetings and serving on committees. The phrase "more with less" gets thrown around a lot, and faculty are just plain tired. Many simply want to keep their heads down and just teach. Aside from lobbying to reduce the teaching load and making sure that my own meetings are quick and to the point, how can I help?


First. You don't want to be the permanent chair?  So, do a lousy job as temporary chair!  Ok, just kidding.  My faculty is much like yours; independent, "heads down" types.  Your job is temporary (you hope), you can help them by being an effective filter.  There are many things that come across my desk that I can take care of myself, without involving the other faculty.  So, I do them and move on.  It would actually take longer for me to accomplish many tasks if I DID try to organize a meeting or two to take care of them (note: certainly there are shared governance items where the faculty SHOULD be involved, however).  The other department in our college has endless meetings to do things that could be taken care of with an email or two, or by the department chair with little faculty involvement.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 7:37:05 PM »

While I have not been a chair of an academic department, I have held parallel positions in nonprofits--including the "being volunteered to be the not-actual chair" until a new one can be hired. My thoughts reflect not my own successful strategies, but what I would suggest based upon what I learned from the experience:

1. You will not be able to do anything at all about the teaching load, given your short timeline and the fact that you are not the chair. The best you can do is to conduct some very good data collection to demonstrate why something needs to be done about the load. If you share this idea with your colleagues, in the hope that it will give a new chair some ammunition, they may be interested in helping. If not, don't push; these folks are going to be your friends and colleagues for a long time, and it's more important to preserve the friendships and pleasant collegial relationships.

2. Are you actually going to have to do the annual reviews for your colleagues? (And are you being compensated for this?) If so, report to the Dean that you have a conflict of interest in three cases and request that s/he do the review for them. Also ask to do the rest of the reviews "collaboratively" since you really do not have the professional standing to do this effectively. Again, do not in any way attempt to exert any authority over your colleagues; you don't have the title, and you have no authority to do anything really helpful for them either.
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"Be particular." Jill Conner Browne
finding_balance
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2012, 12:39:54 AM »

1. I agree that it seems unlikely that you can change the teaching load.  I think your question, however, is how to handle meetings w/ overworked faculty. My suggestion is to limit the frequency of meetings, think carefully about which agenda items to include, and how to handle discussions in a productive and timely way. Focus meetings on things that need to be discussed, and avoid things that do not require faculty input OR can be communicated through other means. For example, all announcements can be shared through email or a newsletter.

2. One of the unavoidable realities of the position is that your relationships with your friends might change. You might want to talk to your friends openly about your concerns, and tell them that you do want to continue the friendship but note that some things might change when you are in this role. You can continue to be friends, but.... you will occasionally be put in a position where you have to evaluate them, and you will frequently be put in a position where you will have information that you should not share w/ them.  Specifically, information about other colleagues that might have been fair game for "gossip" in the past will need to be treated with confidence.  Also, in order to be successful, it is very important that you are perceived to be fair and impartial with all of your colleagues.   
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prytania3
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 1:18:00 PM »

My good friend became chair of my department, and we are still good friends. We had one snit about something, but I forgot what. Anyway, we both got over it.

But dude, a 6/6 load? You're in a hellhole--get your CV together!
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I'm not a narcissist. I'm just angry and violent.
usukprof
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 1:27:11 PM »

My good friend became chair of my department, and we are still good friends. We had one snit about something, but I forgot what. Anyway, we both got over it.

But dude, a 6/6 load? You're in a hellhole--get your CV together!

What is a typical CC load?
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prytania3
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Prytania, the Foracle


« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 1:31:12 PM »

My good friend became chair of my department, and we are still good friends. We had one snit about something, but I forgot what. Anyway, we both got over it.

But dude, a 6/6 load? You're in a hellhole--get your CV together!

What is a typical CC load?

I teach 12 credits per semester, so I teach 3 4-credit courses. Well, actually I teach 4, but for extra dough.

I admit, though. I probably have one of the best jobs in America.

But 6/6 is inhuman. I think a lot of CCs have a 5/5 load. We are basically 4/4.

We are expected to do a good deal of service, though.
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I'm not a narcissist. I'm just angry and violent.
leadbelly
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 9:29:00 AM »

Thanks for the advice.

Ms. Particularity, your suggestion about the annual review is a good one. With everything else that has been going on, I forgot that the reviews are in the spring; I will certainly be notifying my dean of a conflict of interest and ask for joint reviews for most of the department.

Prytania3, it is such a relief to hear that your friendship with your chair has survived.

Most CCs in my state have a 6/6 load, so it is not that unusual here. We also have a heavy service load (most of us serve on 2-3 committees each semester) and will start advising students again in the spring. Like I said, my state's motto has been "more with less!" for the last several years.
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