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Author Topic: What is collegial behavior  (Read 12696 times)
spyzowin
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« on: January 08, 2010, 10:22:02 AM »

Over in the nightmarish catastrophe that is the co-authored credit thread, an interesting point was just brought up that the offending party was "moody" and hence uncollegial.

I'm of the opinion that the AAUP is on the right track with collegiality (that it shouldn't be a separate measure used in the process of reappointment, tenure and promotions) and that it is frequently used to "chill" any dissent.

I've gone out of my way to work towards making the definition of collegiality so concrete and easily quantified as to remove any possibility of its improper use.

What do people define here as being collegial or uncollegial behaviors? Is it really moodiness? Sullen behavior? Morose behavior? Negativity? Contrariness? Or is it telling graduate students not to take your seminars, or leaving your shared office door open resulting in the theft of your laptop, or constantly stealing your milk out of the fridge, or throwing away your mail, or writing scathing reviews of your books?

Personally, I don't care how people act around me, or what they say to me, how heated arguments get, or anything like that. I only care if they file their classroom observations on time, if they submit their syllabi for review, if they don't take forever when someone's trying to edit their papers for an internal publication, if they keep their promise to show up for a student presentation. That sort of thing. To me, if people play by the rules and get the job done, they can be the worst jerks in the world, constantly threaten suicide, or raise obstructionist points at important meetings. I don't even care if people constantly talk about Jesus. It's a free world.

What is it CHE? What is collegiality?
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bibliologos
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 10:34:00 AM »

OK, I'll bite.

Is it really moodiness? Sullen behavior? Morose behavior? Negativity? Contrariness?

Don't care.

Quote
Or is it telling graduate students not to take your seminars,

Uncollegial.

Quote
or leaving your shared office door open resulting in the theft of your laptop, or constantly stealing your milk out of the fridge,

Stupid.

Quote
or throwing away your mail,


Uncollegial.

Quote
or writing scathing reviews of your books?

Passive-aggressive.

Quote
To me, if people play by the rules and get the job done, they can be the worst jerks in the world, constantly threaten suicide, or raise obstructionist points at important meetings. I don't even care if people constantly talk about Jesus.

Annoying.
 
So, of all the putative "uncollegial" behaviours, only badmouthing me to students and throwing away my mail pass my sniff test, and both of these could probably be easily addressed by me telling the offender to stop it.

Real uncollegial behaviour is what in the "real world" we might call abusive.
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galactic_hedgehog
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 10:46:48 AM »

I've gone out of my way to work towards making the definition of collegiality so concrete and easily quantified as to remove any possibility of its improper use.

Isn't collegiality so varied that any attempt to give it a concrete definition doomed to failure?  Wouldn't it be better to to use a Potter Stewart definition?
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spyzowin
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 10:58:43 AM »

I've gone out of my way to work towards making the definition of collegiality so concrete and easily quantified as to remove any possibility of its improper use.

Isn't collegiality so varied that any attempt to give it a concrete definition doomed to failure?  Wouldn't it be better to to use a Potter Stewart definition?

Potter Stewart definitions are fine as long as no one is basing a personnel decision on one.

But the question really goes beyond that... in that post over in the co-authored article thread, the mere personality trait of moodiness was called uncollegial. I just wanted to gauge what people thought.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 11:53:17 AM »

So far as my department is concerned, personality traits (moody, stand-offish, crabby, etc.) don't make a whit of difference -- the term we actually use is "being a good citizen of the department," which means, more or less, being willing to take over someone's class on short notice in an emergency, answering e-mail from department officers promptly, not refusing every single committee obligation (one department committee, one college committee and, if tenured, one university committee is the department's rule of thumb for service), actually being prepared for committee meetings, not bad-mouthing other members of the department (especially not doing so in front of students), turning in paperwork by the appropriate moment, not expecting to jump the queue for photocopying the first week of classes, etc. If you don't make it harder for everyone else in the department to do their work, teaching, and research, you can be as nasty as you want (except maybe to the secretaries, since being nasty to them messes up everyone else).
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spyzowin
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2010, 1:25:29 PM »

So far as my department is concerned, personality traits (moody, stand-offish, crabby, etc.) don't make a whit of difference -- the term we actually use is "being a good citizen of the department," which means, more or less, being willing to take over someone's class on short notice in an emergency, answering e-mail from department officers promptly, not refusing every single committee obligation (one department committee, one college committee and, if tenured, one university committee is the department's rule of thumb for service), actually being prepared for committee meetings, not bad-mouthing other members of the department (especially not doing so in front of students), turning in paperwork by the appropriate moment, not expecting to jump the queue for photocopying the first week of classes, etc. If you don't make it harder for everyone else in the department to do their work, teaching, and research, you can be as nasty as you want (except maybe to the secretaries, since being nasty to them messes up everyone else).

that seems very reasonable.
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madhatter
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2010, 2:04:32 PM »

Personality "traits" don't matter, but behavior does. You can be crabby and moody all you want, but if you verbally abuse peers, staff, or students, that's uncollegial.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2010, 4:36:41 PM »

I think also, though, that it's important to differentiate between behaviors that make one a poor departmental citizen and are thus "uncollegial"--and here I concur with everyone above about what those are--and behaviors that would make one less desirable as a research partner/collaborator. For the latter, there are whole clusters of behavior, including moodiness and snappishness, that can make active daily involvement too much of a trial to be appealing. I think part of the confusion here and on the other thread is the fact that these two categories have gotten run together.
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lightningstrike
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2010, 8:56:33 PM »

I'm still trying to find another industry that uses the word "collegiality" within discussions about personnel issues.  Higher Education actually has to have a word for "not being a big jerk."  Minimum-wage-slow-death jobs don't require "collegiality" in their job descriptions, but I often see that requirement for TT searches.  Among civilized educated people, it is just assumed that one should be collegial.  If a school has to broadcast in their vacancy announcements and tenure/promotion guidelines that they only hire/tenure/promote collegial people, then it is safe to assume that there are some toxic interpersonal relationships within the school.  To answer your original question before my self-righteous rant, you don't need a definition of collegiality.  If your institution needs one, then you have bigger problems than any definition or rubric can solve.
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prytania3
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2010, 12:03:04 AM »

How to be collegial: Always smile and greet your colleagues. Flatter them regularly--tell the women how brilliant you think they are and tell the men they sure look handsome in particular colors.

Anything nasty you have to say, say it behind their backs, and lie and deny if confronted.

My paper on collegiality.

By Prytania
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polly_mer
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2010, 12:09:43 AM »

I'm still trying to find another industry that uses the word "collegiality" within discussions about personnel issues.  Higher Education actually has to have a word for "not being a big jerk." 

"Functions effectively as part of a team" is the term used in other industries that employ people with my credentials to mean "not being a big jerk".
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dr_prephd
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 12:48:02 AM »

I'm still trying to find another industry that uses the word "collegiality" within discussions about personnel issues.  Higher Education actually has to have a word for "not being a big jerk." 

"Functions effectively as part of a team" is the term used in other industries that employ people with my credentials to mean "not being a big jerk".

Yup. In the Joe Jobs I've had, the term is "team player." Being "collegial" implies that one is a "colleague," which is not the case in most pay-the-rent-type jobs.

To answer the question, being collegial means being aware that one's actions affect others, and taking care not to do anything that makes one's colleagues' jobs harder than necessary. You know, like being sure to give appropriate notice when leaving for another job. That kind of stuff.
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 8:31:46 AM »

I woud define collegiality as (a) a certain tray of social graces and responsibilities that (b) enable the department or program to function smoothly and professionally.

Refusing to serve on committees, not showing up for scheduled meetings, publicly attacking your colleagues' academic credentials or persons, use of graduate students as pawns in internecine battles--these are prime examples of uncollegial behavior.

The more personal forms of social dysfunction only become uncollegial when they threaten the function of the department.  If you "constantly threaten suicide, or raise obstructionist points at important meetings," or "constantly talk about Jesus" on your own time, more or less, that's your affair.  If you do these things in venues (say, at department or committee meetings) and to such an extent that nothing else can be accomplished, then yes, they do amount to "uncollegial behavior," and you can and should be considered professionally liable for them.
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 8:38:12 AM »

("Would."  I blame MSWord, Wikipedia, capitalism, and Britney.)
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voxprincipalis
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 9:44:49 AM »

The more personal forms of social dysfunction only become uncollegial when they threaten the function of the department.  If you "constantly threaten suicide, or raise obstructionist points at important meetings," or "constantly talk about Jesus" on your own time, more or less, that's your affair.  If you do these things in venues (say, at department or committee meetings) and to such an extent that nothing else can be accomplished, then yes, they do amount to "uncollegial behavior," and you can and should be considered professionally liable for them.

Or if you bully colleagues, especially but not limited to the untenured. It is uncollegial to deliberately make anyone else feel intimidated in the workplace, to cause them such emotional distress that they cannot do their own job effectively, and to continue to do them emotional violence because they feel protected by tenure.

Unfortunately, tenured people are rarely called out for uncollegiality, which is a pity.

VP
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