For the chief academic officer or senior administrator in faculty affairs, there's little time to hunt for the latest research that could improve the practice of academic leadership. This time-scarcity problem steers decision makers, in the interest of expediency, to revert to the status quo--doing things the way they have always been done. It's no surprise, then, that we keep seeing the same results.
How do we get the best research on facultly in front of those in a position to make a difference? In preparation for a COACHE session at the AAC&U Annual Meeting, I assembled a few “essentials” as a start to incorporate into the professional rhythms of the provost or academic dean. This is nothing like an exhaustive list; it is just a place to get started (or fill in the blanks).
For a magazine that arrives just six times per year, Change packs in more than its share of evidence-based recommendations for practice. If you have time for nothing else, read each issue's introduction by editor David Paris, who briefly summarizes each article.
Twice each year, take 30 minutes to browse the online programs of these two conferences. At AERA (April or May), you will want to navigate to Division J, particularly Section 3 (Organization, Management, and Leadership) and Section 4 (Faculty, Curriculum, and Teaching). At ASHE (November), look for Division II (Organization, administration, and leadership) and Division IV (Faculty).
The StratEGIC Toolkit distills and shares lessons learned about particular interventions and how they combine into an overall change portfolio. Organizations can strategically choose and combine interventions as they work to support the success of women scholars in STEM fields (and others).
WISELI's online library curates over 2,000 citations to books and articles (and growing) relevant to the advancement and promotion of faculty, especially women in engineering. The library also contains books and articles referenced in WISELI's workshops, brochures, and guidebooks. All entries are tagged for easy searching by topic.
Adrianna Kezar's project at the University of Southern California has compiled a Database of Sample Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Practices, each with a "map to change" that can be modeled elsewhere. The Delphi team also curates a database of resources, searchable by questions like, "How much does it cost to support faculty off the tenure track and how can I find the funding?"
COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
Your college / university consortium
Liberal arts colleges are particularly well-organized around college consortia (e.g., ACM, GLCA, NY6), but universities are increasingly leveraging regional associations and their athletic conferences for deep academic and administrative collaborations. CAOs and faculty affairs administrators meet regularly at the Big Ten Academic Alliance and Colonial Academic Alliance, for example. If you don't know if your institution belongs to a consortium, contact the Association for Collaborative Leadership (ACL).
Provosts and associate provosts convene at these annual meetings, each according to its sector. The opportunities for candid discussion and self-reflection vary; the smaller "summer" or "winter" meetings for academic affairs tend to be better. If you are a CAO, you have the power to influence these agendas to put scholars and practitioners in closer proximity when tackling the tough challenges facing faculty leaders.
Of course, COACHE has been a resource for translating research to practice. Now, however, I am opening our doors to institutions who are not (yet!) partners. As an evolution of the COACHE "Leaders Workshop" our team ran for 10 years, COACHE is teaming up with the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education on a four-day seminar. It's designed for CAOs and their peers to “go back to the classroom” with scholars conducting research to improve the day-to-day business of faculty affairs.
BOOKS, CHAPTERS & ARTICLES
There are many excellent readings, published recently, representing the best of scholarship on the professoriate. We will add links to some of those on our website. These resources have been selected for the time-starved CAO:
The authority on faculty roles in governance: Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education (2015), by William Bowen and Eugene Tobin (Download the audiobook for your commute.)
A guide (with templates) for making meetings better: Meeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators (2014), by Elizabeth City and Kathleen Boudett
Three articles/chapters that will stick with you for years:
- The Latent Organizational Function of the Academic Senate, by Robert Birnbaum;
- Alternative Models of Governance in Higher Education, by Baldridge, Curtis, Ecker and Riley; and
- Memo from Machiavelli, by Baldridge, Julius & Pfeffer
CAOs don't have time to sift through academic journals in search of that rare Eureka! moment. Many journals, however, now allow you to register for email alerts with links to the latest articles. These are a few reliable sources that focus solely on postsecondary research:
- Research in Higher Education
- The Review of Higher Education
- The Journal of Higher Education.
The AERA journals also offer excellent research on the professoriate, but only occasionally, so finding them requires more sifting. Here's one recent example from KerryAnn O'Meara and her team:
- Asked more often: Gender differences in faculty workload in research universities and the work interactions that shape them. American Educational Research Journal, 54(6), 1154-1186.
There are too many missing titles, links, and conferences to count. Because they take time to read, I've left off excellent organizationl behavior books that I recommend to every new provost (e.g., How Colleges Work and Leadership and Ambiguity) and more recent anthologies of the best thinking on the professoriate (e.g., Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-first Century and The Faculty Factor). I recognize, also, that I've ommitted many important, deeper dives into the professoriate that compile research about inequalities according to race and gender. I invite a healthy debate with scholars and COACHE partners about defining the most deserving resources--but only those that can fit on two pages!