Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 2 of Chairpersons Conference

Leadership Transitions Training and Development
Workshop by Katherine Frank, Margarte Thomas Evans, Cathy Foos, Rob Tolley and Mark Pomper

The focus of this workshop was the development of faculty during large transitions within a college. There are very often big changes in an organization's structure, and it is important to continually develop a chairperson as they fit their role. There were a couple of points that I thought were particularly important:
  • It is vital that an organization fosters leadership from the beginning. Very often an organization is reactive when a new chair position opens up. Instead, training and development should be a key part of faculty development so that a succession of leadership can take place.
  • Personal relations with faculty are the most important aspect of leading as a chair. If you can have a positive working relationship with the people you lead, you will be much more effective as a leader, even if there is disagreement on decisions made.
Notes on Progressing as an Administrator
I am a relatively young faculty member - probably the youngest faculty member at my university. Moving to a chair position as early as I did was probably a little early in my career. However, it also gives me the benefit of learning a great deal in a short amount of time. I am still not totally sure of my career direction, but one of the possibilities is to work in my career as an administrator in higher education. I have enjoyed my work as chair, though it can be quite difficult, at times. And I think I have some of the skills and abilities that would make me a good academic leader.

I met with Dr. Kent Crookston, professor at Brigham Young University, for a brief one-on-one that the conference arranged for its attendees. Dr. Crookston and I discussed  potential career avenuse I might take, and we ended up discussing the possibility of working toward becoming a dean or even a provost. During our discussion, he gave me the following pieces of advice:
  • Be strategic -have a goal in mind. Where do you want to end up?
  • Decide what kind of institution you would like to work in. My experience as a faculty member has been in smaller, teaching-focused universities. If I want to move to larger research universities, I will likely need to earn tenure before I can become an administrator at those larger universities.
  • Find a mentor who has done some of the things you want to do. This mentor can help you begin to prepare for the next position.
  • Study administration. Read leadership journals and magazines. Get deep into the literature. Dr. Crookston recommended the Harvard Business Review as one of the best. 
  • Stand out in your current position as a leader without appearing overly-ambitious. Do your best to shine at what you are doing now.
Truthfully, I am still not sure exactly where I would like to end up in my career. I am happy where I am now and feel good about the work I am doing. I can see that I might excel as an administrator, but I have a passion for teaching and writing that I would like to hold on to. Whatever I decide to do, this  knowledge gives me an idea of the kinds of things I might do to really move forward in my goals.

Navigating Waves of Change

Jeremy Buckner, Christine Dalton, Kara Stooksbury, Laura Wadlington

The final presentation I attended was about peer-led professional development for academic chairs.A group of fairly new department chairs were confronted with a need for developing themselves as chairs and decided to create a series of workshops for doing so. They created for workshops for themselves and their peers within their college around the following topics:
  1. Personality, work style and communication - In this session the participants all took the Jung typology test, which helped them to start looking at themselves and how the prefer working and communicating. They discussed their results with their peers and planned out ways to work with their strengths.
  2. S.W.O.T. Analysis of own departments - In this session, participants performed a S.W.O.T. Analysis of their own departments. This is an exercise in which the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to the department are analyzed and articulated.
  3. A Session with the Chief Financial Officer - In this session, the CFO of the university presented the reality of the financial state for the departments in the college. She answered their questions and helped them see how their work related to the college's budget.
  4. Departmental Strategic Planning - This session has not yet occurred, but it will involved planning for the coming 5 years. This is something that I believe could be very valuable for me and my program. We are on a good path, and I believe that we could really move the program forward with some disciplined work.
The presenters said that they found that there was a greater sense of collaboration among the participants, and the participants were surprised to find that there were some great similarities between the departments.

I am excited to see what I learn tomorrow - looks like another set of good presentations.
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