Model for easing tensions after tough battle over unionization
- The Chronicle of Higher Education shared the story of Macalester College, which in 2014 experienced a tense split between faculty members and administration over a unionization effort that ultimately did not come to vote, but left the campus in need of relationship repairs between leadership and professors.
- Macalester President Brian C. Rosenberg worked with faculty committee leaders in finance, tenure and governance to make wholesale changes to key areas that did not draw consensus during professors' internal negotiation for unionizing.
- Communication is key during disputes or controversy between administrators and faculty members, the Chronicle reported. At Washtenaw Community College in Michigan, president Rose Bellanca survived a faculty uproar after a non-transparent firing by vowing to improve transparency and then doing it. Michael Duff, a Washtenaw professor of automotive services and former union vice president, told the Chronicle, "We didn’t know her, and there was a learning curve. … Some people thought she wasn’t approachable, but we’ve moved forward and we’ve had a couple contracts in since then."
Many presidents and other campus executives believe that faculty members should only be involved in decisions that impact teaching loads, research requirements, rank and tenure or shared governance. But instructors tend to have a much better view of administration and a more enjoyable professional experience when they are consulted on many areas throughout the academic enterprise, including student affairs, athletics and community relations.
These are areas that administrators should consider bringing to faculty bodies at large, or at least, sizable working committees. Professors are charged with making sure that students are ready-to-work, encouraged to innovate, and trying to complete on time in order to make the campus a more desirable destination for enrollment and funding. For faculty members, having their say in the direction and spirit of the campus may be just as important as representation on topics like earnings, benefits or workload.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education The battle is over: How can presidents and faculty mend fences?
- Education Dive Survey offers mixed reviews on faculty member satisfaction