June 29, 2024

A department’s culture...

"...A department’s culture is an unwritten, unspoken, but strongly felt worldview, a system of values and cognitions that determines how things get interpreted, what decisions are made, and what the quality of actions taken will be. This culture is distinct, separate, and bigger than individuals in the department because those who have been around for some time have been conditioned by the culture...”

Sodowsky, G. R. (2008). Getting along with colleagues. In K. D. Hostetler, R. M. Sawyer, & K. W. Prichard (Eds.), The art and politics of college teaching (2nd ed., pp. 171–177). New York: Peter Lang.

June 20, 2024

Fewer leaders, more leadership

 ...Much of the complaint levelled at university leaders stems from common (and often hyperbolic) assessments of their excessive remuneration; their lack of moral authority, ethical integrity, compassion, empathy, and care for others; their non-consultative crisis-management model of governance; and their appropriation of universities as personal legacy and vanity projects. They are also associated with the normalisation of exploitative and precarious labour practices; an epidemic of staff bullying, harassment, and discrimination (habitually by managers they are seen to protect); and the perpetuation of structural inequalities within universities. As if such accusations were not enough, they are also blamed for indecision and apathy not only in the face of government aggression and policy hostility, but also in defending the value proposition of the university as a public good and in responding to challenges of digital disruption and financial vulnerability. When viewed as absentee landlords, the contribution of university leaders, in respect of substantive leadership, is made further hard to ascertain or confirm.
However, if leadership is found wanting within universities, it is not just among those in positions of apex authority. The problem is more diffuse and deep-rooted. Notwithstanding, it has culminated in a blame game and villainisation of university leaders that oversimplifies and fails to redress a systemic failure of leadership within universities; the reasons for which are polymorphous...