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 Tuesday, April 24, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


New director promotes positive faculty relations
By Jon Leslie, Publications and Creative Services

After more than two decades in academia as a faculty member, department chair, dean and academic vice president, CU-Boulder alumnus John Frazee has returned to campus in the newly created role of Director of Faculty Relations. In this unique position—one of the only ones like it in the country—Frazee fosters a more positive and productive faculty environment through direct conflict resolution, leadership training and policy recommendations for improved faculty/administrator relations.

"The cumulative effect of the experiences I've had in various administrative roles and as a faculty member is to develop a real appreciation for the issues of conflict and conduct in the faculty ranks and in particular the stresses and strains that contribute to conflict issues and conduct issues in faculty relationships," said Frazee. "Dealing with these kinds of issues typically falls to academic administrators who don't have the time and aren't necessarily trained to deal with these things, and who in any case have other responsibilities. When this position was advertised, I saw it as a great opportunity for me to pursue this important work and to do it for my alma mater."

Frazee's efforts center on improving the professional relationships among faculty members and between faculty members and administrators, handling a range of issues that fall between those addressed by the strictly voluntary and confidential services of the Faculty Ombuds Program and those involving research misconduct, discrimination and harassment or other issues with possible legal implications. He is available for informal consultations, formal departmental assessments and training sessions to help improve productivity and build more positive faculty interactions.

"It's not an easy life to be a faculty member at a high-powered institution, and conflicts and conduct problems take their toll on people, on departments and ultimately on the culture of the institution generally," said Frazee. "My primary responsibility is to help individuals and communities deal with these issues more quickly, more thoroughly and more effectively so that they don't get to be bigger issues. Whatever package of services will produce that outcome is pretty much what I will provide."

Since returning to CU-Boulder in January of this year, Frazee has spent much of his time getting reacquainted with the university and building an understanding of the most common conflict and conduct issues on campus. With his unique perspective as a CU-Boulder alumnus, a former faculty member and an academic administrator, Frazee sees a great opportunity to have a positive impact. He already has a list of issues to address and will be organizing training sessions on resolving and managing conflict for current administrators and future faculty leaders this summer.

"The very real challenge of this position is that you're dealing with really smart people who are used to being critically minded, and they don't take anything on faith," said Frazee. "If I can help make a difference here for faculty and administrators, then I'll feel good about accepting this position."


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