A lack of faculty voice

Faculty are under enormous pressure today. Most professions are probably being asked to do more with less. Yet, I contend the working environment for faculty has changed dramatically—and not for the better—in recent years. The 3rd annual Times Higher Education (THE) University Workplace Survey includes troubling data that faculty complaints aren’t just a U.S. problem. There is substantial concern about a lack of faculty voice in decision making. Faculty don’t feel like they are heard or have a say in setting institutional strategy and priorities. This is a failure of university leadership.

The THE survey asked 3,000 faculty and staff from 150 U.K. Universities about the status of their work.  They found a troubling pattern of faculty concerns regarding job security, workload, academic standards, accountability measures, and faculty input on decisions.

Clearly, many of these issues are significant and warrant attention by institutional leaders.

However, I am most troubled by the finding of a lack of faculty voice in decision making.

How to prepare for an on campus faculty interview

The faculty job market today is tougher than it has been in a generation. Fewer positions and more doctoral graduates in nearly every discipline have ratcheted up the difficulty in successfully landing a faculty position. Just securing a campus interview is a often a reason for celebration as it means you’ve made it through rounds of reviews and Skype or phone interviews. But how to prepare for an on campus faculty interview? In today’s post, I will provide tips and suggestions to successfully navigate the grueling on campus interview.

Photo credit: Flickr Matse A

My first on campus interview was taxing. I can’t think of a time where I have been more exhausted. Two days of talking, networking, and selling myself took a toll.

Fortunately, I got good advice from advisers and mentors and was able to land an offer.

Over the years, I’ve seen candidates doom their chances while others hit a home run securing the job.

Implementing Cal Newport’s Deep Work

Deep work should be the goal of all of us in higher education. As Cal Newport convincingly argues in his book of the same name, deep work is focused work in a distraction-free environment that brings value. The challenge, of course, is how to implement deep work into our daily routines. In addition to discussing the broader concepts, Newport also suggests ways to achieve deep work in our daily lives. In today’s post, I want to share some key takeaways that I believe will help when implementing Cal Newport’s deep work.

Photo credit: Datamerge LLC

As I discussed in my last post, shallow work takes over in the absence of clear feedback and immediate rewards for deep work. Shallow work is easier and the appearance of busyness makes us feel more productive.

Although he offers far more suggestions than I outline below from the simple to the more controversial (quit all social media), I believe these six ideas will get you well on the way to implementing the deep work philosophy.

A review of Deep Work by Cal Newport

Most of us instinctively understand that work today is different than in the past. Both faculty and staff in higher education are knowledge workers where our value comes from ideas and creativity rather than producing something. While everyone agrees that ideas and creativity are important, our days are instead spent with email, meetings, and paperwork that isn’t adding value to anyone or anything. In today’s post, I want to share a review of Deep Work by Cal Newport, which challenges our current work routines and makes suggestions for how to generate more value.

Photo credit: Dom Crossley

Newport’s book is a provocative read and I suggest anyone in a job where the quality of one’s ideas is important should read it.

The central premise of the book is that knowledge workers should focus on deep work that provides value rather than shallow work which is really a false productivity.