A collection of articles on communication, managing relationships, other topics of interest to faculty members and academic leaders.

 

Dear Faculty Relations 

Seen but not Heard  Dear Faculty Relations: I find my department’s faculty meetings irksome. The chair never calls on those of us who are pre-tenured, and as a result, only the senior members of the department shape important policy decisions. My other junior colleagues say, “Why talk? Someone will hold it against you when you come up for tenure.” Are they right? I am frustrated at being seen but not heard. – Seen but not Heard


Complicity and the Chair: Maintaining a Positive Environment  Dear Faculty Relations: Several faculty members came to my office wringing their hands about the behavior of a colleague who frequently interrupts others, raises their voice, and bangs on the table during meetings. The faculty member is also known to be spiteful, having tanked a person’s tenure years ago; others are afraid to speak up. They aren’t alone, I’ve witnessed this and have felt the same way, and I don’t want to deal with it. For our new faculty coming to their first meetings, this behavior feels particularly threatening and intimidating. I know this colleague well and understand the newish faculty fright, but I am used to it and would rather not engage. I checked the personnel files, and there are no notes that any supervisor has ever reported or dealt with this behavior before, even though it has gone on for a long time. I want to let it go. – Uncomfortable Chair


The Rules Do Not Apply  Dear Faculty Relations: An untenured faculty member came up to me (I am a tenured, full professor in the department) with concerns about the shifting nature of the department culture, the unwritten rules for how decisions are to be made. They told me they had been quietly waiting for three years to access a parking spot near the building they work in and believed they were next in line for one. Instead, the nearby parking spot was assigned to a newly hired faculty member. They then asked me to advocate for them. How do I support my untenured colleague? And how do we navigate these unwritten rules? – Supportive Full Professor


"The PRD is history. The PRR is where it’s at.”  Dear Faculty Relations: What is the difference between the PRD versus the PRR? – Lost in the Alphabet Soup


TA/GPTI Professionalism is Faculty Professionalism  Dear Faculty Relations: A faculty member reported a student in violation of the Honor Code and shared emails and a zoom recording as part of the supporting documents. I was dismayed to learn the TA screamed at the student and described the student as a sociopath to another colleague. Does the PRD apply to graduate students too? – TA Supervisor


"Primum non tacere. First, do not be silent."  Dear Faculty Relations: The same people bully and dominate our meetings. Everyone knows they are problematic, yet at meetings, everyone is silent. How do we speak up? - Silent


Sanction is a Contronym  Dear Faculty Relations: I was told that a faculty member acted unprofessionally. I’m the Supervising Administrator. I checked out the allegation and found it was true. What next? How do I sanction? - Sanctioner


Accountability  Dear Faculty Relations: Our department has a tenured full professor who doesn’t show up to meetings, which results in other faculty having to take up the slack. I don’t know what to do when this person doesn’t do their job. Can I hold them accountable? - Accountable


Overcoming Conflict Avoidance  Dear Faculty Relations: Dealing with faculty members who are not respectful or collegial, whether in meetings or over email, overwhelms me. I know it’s my job, but I’m not very good at handling confrontational interactions. How can I address this? - Conflict Avoidant


No Response to Emails  Dear Faculty Relations: What can I do about a faculty member who doesn’t respond to emails or submit required activity reports, like FRPA or DEPA? I email reminders; they say they’ll get around to it but don’t. Sometimes they also ignore my emails. I have more urgent matters to attend to, and besides I resent having to baby-sit adults, so I let it go. Should I? - Fed Up


The Bully  Dear Faculty Relations: An untenured faculty member came to me with concerns that a senior faculty advisor bullies them. How do I resolve this? - Stuck in the Middle 


No Mask and Too Close for Comfort  Dear Faculty Relations: I received a report of a professor wearing only a face shield with no face mask and had his face shield lifted above his mouth during class. Also, he walked within three feet of several students while teaching. What can I do? - Too Close for Comfort  

 

Insights from John P. Frazee, Former Director of Faculty Relations, University of Colorado Boulder

Why We Can't Just Get Along  In this essay, John Frazee explains why academics sometimes struggle to maintain good working relationships.


Don't Hit Send Until You Read This  John Frazee takes on one of the biggest sources of conflict: email.


New Kid on the Block  Being the new kid on the block -- a junior faculty member newly arrived on campus -- presents multiple challenges you’ll need to manage to lay the foundation for a successful career. John Frazee offers some advice.


The Old New Kid on the Block  Joining a new institution as a senior faculty member or administrator presents many challenges. John Frazee offers some advice for managing them.


A Different Kind of Career Capstone  Forging a different path in academia, John Frazee discusses the importance of conflict management and resolution as an academic leader. 


"Bullying": How Helpful Is the Term?  John Frazee speaks to the importance of using appropriate terms to describe inappropriate behavior, in an effort to avoid diverting attention from real issues in the workplace. 


"Wicked" Colleagues  John Frazee discusses parallels between the Broadway hit “Wicked” and what value can be found in hearing all sides of a story. 


Advice from a Veteran Chair  A chair with years of experience offers candid reflections and advice on the role. 


Listening is a Difficult (and Essential) Leadership Skill  A neuroscientist explains the difference between hearing and listening. 


Miscommunication  John Frazee shares thoughts on miscommunication, misunderstanding, and curiosity. 


What's an Apology?  John Frazee offers definitions and examples of what is (and is not) an apology.