TITLE: Catch-22: Faculty and University Administration AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 31, 2015 4:13 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I agree with Timothy Burke that the evolution of university administration is shaped in part by the unintended consequences of faculty behavior:
I think some of my colleagues across the country are potentially contributing to the creation of the distanced, professionalized, managerial administrations that they say that they despise, and they're doing it in part through half-voiced expectations about what an ideal administrator might be like.
This passage comes from Performing the Role, in which Burke discusses some of the fall-out from a botched faculty hiring at the University of Illinois last year. Even if you don't know much about the Salaita case, you may find Burke's piece worth reading. It captures pretty well how universities seem to be shifting toward a professionalized administrative class and the ways in which this shift clashes -- and meshes -- with faculty expectations and behavior. This line, in particular, sums up a surprising amount of my experience as a department head for the last decade:
I think we somehow expect that administrative leaders should be unfailingly polite, deferential, patient, and solicitous when we're the ones talking with them and bold, confrontational, and aggressive when they're talking to anyone else.
The next one has affected me less directly, but I see it in the expectations across campus all the time:
We seem to expect administrative leaders to escape structural traps that we cannot imagine a way to escape from.
Burke ends the paragraph containing those sentences with a summary that many administrators can appreciate: "There's a lot of Catch-22 going on here." Burke is always thoughtful, and thought-provoking, on matters of academia and culture. If those topics interest, his blog is often worth reading. -----