Paul L. Caron
Dean




Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Return To Campus Means Return To In-Person Faculty Meetings ... And That's A Good Thing

Chronicle of Higher Education, Come Back, Face-to-Face Faculty Meetings: All Is Forgiven!:

Before the pandemic, we used to laugh at the old saw that academic politics were so petty, and occasionally vicious, because comparatively little was at stake. Now we are not so sure. During the past year, some aspects of faculty life have been lost that — despite their admittedly comedic potential — are actually important. One of those things: the oft-maligned, face-to-face faculty meeting.

Academe relies on different sorts of faculty meetings. Most common is the departmental meeting, where faculty peers steer the direction of their field (“In what new area should we hire?”), decide governance matters (“Who should be the next chair?”), and make curricular decisions (“Should we redesign the capstone course?”). Some institutions hold meetings of their entire faculty — the town-hall model — to deal with governance issues or report on the state of the campus. Still others rely on an elected representative or faculty-senate model.

A year of remote connections — via Zoom or other digital substitutes — has forced us to admit that we miss all of the face-to-face versions of those gatherings. And here’s why:

The Hollywood Squares layout of Zoom meetings limits our ability to interpret body language. ...

Who is MIA and why? ...

Disengaging the video function makes a statement. ...

The decline of “administrator bingo.” ...

Kremlinology is lost. Zoom precludes you from seeing where administrators, or faculty members with more power than you, choose to sit. Such observations can reveal who may be in good graces or on the outs with those who wield important formal or informal power. ...

Although we hope for a resumption of the quirky aspects of face-to-face faculty meetings, we are realists: Some of those idiosyncrasies may be lost or forever altered. Here are some suggestions that could help all of us make the adjustment to meeting together once again in the new academic year:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2021/06/return-to-campus-means-return-to-in-person-faculty-meetings-and-thats-a-good-thing.html

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