Don’t Always Assume Faculty Are Like Herding Cats

Faculty don’t listen. They don’t follow directions. You’ll have better luck herding cats. Many staff and administrators assume that faculty members have little concern for instructions or administrative direction. While that is sometimes the case, this assumption can often lead to unnecessary problems.

Photo credit: Elliott Bledsoe – Flickr

For anyone in administration, I want to encourage you to not assume faculty are like herding cats.

I have often told the following story when I teach faculty and academic governance. I think it epitomizes the problems when you assume faculty won’t follow direction.

Baseball and Higher Education: Thoughts from HOF Weekend

Over this past weekend, I attended the Induction Ceremony for the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014. As a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, it was a real treat. Three Braves went into the Hall from the great teams in the 1990’s that won so many games. The combination of baseball and history struck me. I thought about how few industries are so heavily influenced by tradition, culture, and history. One of the great things about higher education is that we, like baseball, are an industry filled with the same affinity for the past.

One of the reason that I enjoy teaching the History of Higher Education course is that history influences so much of the way colleges and university exist today.

How To Get Your Email Inbox Under Control

Email is a wonderful tool. I can’t imagine going back to the days of sending memos back and forth. However, I’m not sure we have ever had a tool that we let run our lives the way we’ve allowed email to take over our personal and professional lives. In today’s post, I want to tackle one of the biggest problems that people often face with email: an overflowing inbox.

Photo credit: Flickr dvs

Raise your hand if you currently have 50 messages in your inbox? 100? 500? 1,000? (I won’t ask if you have more than that!)

I think we often forget the purpose of an inbox. I still have one on my desk, but I rarely receive anything in it. The email inbox was modeled off of a real paper inbox.

The Importance of Writing Thank You Notes

One of my favorite segments on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is when he writes out his weekly thank you notes. You don’t need to be a talk show host to write notes. Thank you notes have increasingly become a lost art form. There are a few scenarios where thank you notes are still often used such as wedding gifts, high school graduation, and job interviews. Yet, outside of job interviews, handwritten thank you notes have largely gone the way of the horse drawn carriage in professional settings. As I’ve taken on more administrative work over the past couple of years, I have started writing more and more thank you notes. Writing these notes can be time consuming, but I highly recommend that you take the time to write them too.

Thank you notes can have a powerful impact on both you and the recipient. I believe there are 6 benefits from writing thank you notes.

Failure of the National University Idea

I recently guest lectured in a higher education course on institutional diversity and how the American system came to exhibit such an array of institutional types.  I noted that I thought the national university idea was one of the more important “non-events” in the history of higher education.  In many ways, the lack of a federal university is one of the most under appreciated concepts in our history.

In today’s post, I want to share an excerpt from my monograph, Understanding Institutional Diversity in American Higher Education.  In this section, I describe the history of the federal university idea and how it ultimately failed.