Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Exploring the working relationships between faculty and administrators

September 17, 2004

Department chairs, deans and academic vice presidents, as well as science deans, are critical players on a campus in the process of translating a good idea into a project or program. The PKAL Volume IV postings for September 17th, 2004 explore the working relationships between faculty and persons in these positions of administrative responsibility.

It is important to understand what role you would like to play, and could best play, in the process of change. Becoming a leader does not necessarily mean one has to be out in front banging the drum. Further, realizing the value of listening gives one the opportunity to step back and understand what is going on before proposing personal solutions to the task at hand.

Change is not sustainable unless and until it is seen as advancing the work and goals of the vast majority of stakeholders. (Doing no harm is not sufficient.) Further, the future benefits of the new initiative must manifestly justify the reallocation of existing and future resources. Basically, the change has to be, or become, what everyone wanted to do anyway, even if they didn’t know it at first.

Revitalizing undergraduate STEM is a complex problem. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken: for every complex problem, there is a simple solution, and it is wrong. While institutions, both local and national, play a role, changes that "stick" are carried out in reality by academic departments, energized by faculty leadership and colleagueship, in a complex interplay that recognizes and understands local missions and local constraints while keeping an eye on high standards set by the national STEM community.

– PKAL National Steering Committee.

From A PKAL Essay: Leaders: Lessons Learned.