Sunday, March 17, 2013

Politics of Faculty Life, Part 1

Ok, I have to admit something. I did not mean to hit the publish button on yesterday's post, raising the question of what is the nature of "politics" in faculty/university life. I had meant to hit the save button, and keep it as a question for me to consider writing about. Yet, since I did hit publish, and not save, it looks like I am committed to some writing.

So be it.

So, over the next few weeks, I will try to write at least a few posts exploring the nature  of university politics.

So, for today, I will bring up one key point; the importance of understanding the culture of higher education, and your university and department in general.  In particular, what are the roles of those "above" you in the tenure and promotion process? Many junior professor get themselves into problems that feel political and sticky (and lets define the notion of politics later, and stay practical for this post) because they do not understand the nature of university power and decision making.

It is essential to really understand what your chair or director does, as well as what your dean and provost do. How do they evaluate you? What is their role in the tenure and promotion process? Do you have annual evaluations? How do other faculty factor into this?  These are questions that you need to understand, and doing so helps you to consider the nature of your relationships to these people. How do you go about getting this information? Ask your mentors, others you trust in your department, and folks in other units. Study the organizational charts. Read your tenure and promotion guidelines, and understand each person's role in this process.

Of course, developing this understanding is only part of what you need to know when considering the politics of university life- but we have to start somewhere, and I did not give myself my time to consider  where to start.

As you can see, what comes from daily writing is not always brilliant, and perhaps does not always have to be.

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