This Week's Message
It has been wonderful to see so many of you during the last week, and fun to have the campus filled with activity. For those of you who attended the retreat, you know that one of my goals this year is to build collegiality. Collegiality is one of the values of the academy that sometimes seems in conflict with other values. As professors we have autonomy in making decisions about the content and pedagogy that we use in our classes, and independence in the topics and issues that we chose to pursue in our research. Yet one of the most rewarding parts of my life is interacting with you. I feel truly fortunate each day that I am surrounded by smart people who challenge my thinking, make me laugh, and encourage me to be better at what I do. Good colleagues make a difference and that is one of the reasons that I think we need to constantly work to strengthen this aspect of our professional lives.
Researchers suggest that "collegiality" or the lack thereof is why some faculty function harmoniously and effectively while others are combative and isolated. A number of years ago at an AAHE conference (when there was an AAHE), Anna Carey and Susanne Soled of the University of Cincinnati and Barbara Walvoord of Notre Dame presented research that identified the four dimensions of collegial departments. These may serve as good benchmarks for us.
- The first of these dimensions is EQUALITY. Colleagues find a way of balancing rewards and sharing responsibilities. Equality in the college environment shows itself in a variety of ways. In order for colleges to function, for classes to be taught, for students to be advised, we all must fulfill our mutual obligations.
- The second dimension of collegiality is CONSENSUS. Consensus occurs because those involved have the time to talk through a problem and are willing to accept a solution. It is an approach to decision making that occurs because of lengthy, critical interaction. Power is horizontal and governance is shared. While we have a disdain of meetings, often these face-to-face encounters are the only way that we can approach consensus.
- Third, colleagues have a sense of TRADITION. In this context, "tradition" is more than just doing things as they've always been done. Instead, it is sense of connection and celebration of what we have accomplished and what remains to be achieved. The stories that capture the uniqueness of Augustana College need to be widely shared and enjoyed.
- Finally, collegial departments and colleges have a sense of COMMUNITY. A community nurtures, develops and cares for its members. The needs of one individual are the concern of many. It is created by frequent interaction, mentoring and shared responsibility. When one person becomes "too busy" to attend meetings or participate in committees, then our community suffers.
While my "take a junior colleague to lunch" plan is a very artificial way to foster collegiality, I hope it can at least be a beginning point for us to demonstrate our commitment to each other. I hope that we can also take advantage of venues such as faculty forums, Friday Conversations, and upcoming handbook discussions. A sense of equality, an ability to build consensus, attention to tradition, and support for community are truly gifts that we can give to our colleagues.
With best wishes with the 2010-2011 year,