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Workshop for Academic Chairs and Program Directors Highlights Effective Hiring and Shared Governance

August 13, 2019, @ 2:31 PM
David Parkyn addresses attendees regarding shared governance models and their implications at the academic chairs and program directors event at Cedar Crest College on August 13, 2019.
David Parkyn addresses attendees regarding shared governance models and their implications at the academic chairs and program directors event at Cedar Crest College on August 13, 2019.

On Tuesday, August 13, LVAIC hosted a full-day session for academic chairs and program directors at Cedar Crest College. This event brought in facilitators Dr. Katie P. Desiderio, Executive Director, Graduate Business Programs, Associate Professor of Management, Moravian College; Charlene D. Bergstresser, Program Director, LVAIC; and Dr. David Parkyn, President Emeritus, North Park University, Chicago, Illinois.

The day began with Desiderio and Bergstresser offering a workshop regarding effective hiring and retention practices. Structuring this workshop to only serve a small population, this interactive event allowed participants to offer in-the-moment feedback to other participants and each other regarding different aspects of the search process. Areas explored included:

  • crafting a reflective position description,
  • determining and sharing expectations regarding the role,
  • determining and sharing values and cultural markers for the institution and the department,
  • creating and sharing assessment and evaluation methods to be used on the candidate once in the role, and
  • determining and clarifying any diversity needs for the institution and department.

Attendees discussed successes and challenges in their current search methods, sharing that the most common challenge lies in creating a position description and interview questions able to truly reflect the demands of the position beyond the anticipated capabilities of the candidate. For instance, many higher education positions come with an expectation of participating in campus functions and events outside of the classroom. Finding candidates prepared for the job inside and outside the classroom proves challenging, and the group discussed ways to overcome these difficulties.

Beyond these discussions, participants were tasked with providing sample interview questions used in their current search processes. Each member of the group then shared his or her interview question and received feedback from the group, working through nuances in the wording and phrasing until perfecting the questions to the point of truly reaching the purpose of the question. Working through these questions, participants were offered the chance to role play with their questions, answering the following series of questions thereafter:

  1. As an interviewer, did the questions get you the information you were hoping to learn about the candidate?
  2. As an interviewee, how did the questions feel as a candidate?
  3. As an interviewee, what recommendations would you give to the interviewer?
  4. As a coach, were there any observation of things you noticed you would like to share?

After the group worked through these scenarios, all participants received a copy of the Best Practices for Faculty Search Committees: How to Review Applications and Interview Candidates by Jeffrey L. Buller. The presentation is available here.

The afternoon portion of the program focused on how shared governance impacts the faculty hiring process with Parkyn. Parkyn offered an outline of the history of shared governance as beginning with the idea of collegiality. This overview included the original documentation for the shared governance model, highlighting the key concepts to include “joint effort” and “shared responsibility.” These documents name the governing board as the final institutional authority, but also notes that this board should undertake appropriate self-limitation. The president shares responsibility and acts as the chief planning officer with delegated authority from the board and the faculty. The faculty hold responsibility for the curriculum. Moreover, the board and president should concur with faculty on questions of faculty status. Overall, the board of trustees offers the ultimate authority. In the traditional model, staff, student life, and students themselves are not directly represented.

In the best circumstances, the presidents, board, and faculty all work together. The president functions as the main connection between the faculty and the board, facilitating communication between both groups. Parkyn observes that in most situations, this model is endorsed, but rarely is it implemented. In the ideal implementation, this model acts as a system for aligning institutional priorities.

Parkyn offers an example of three types of governance responsibility for campuses. The first model is fiduciary where important but common, everyday decisions occur through shared governance. This is mainly considered “solo” governance, wherein a particular area of campus makes a decision but consults other areas of campus. The second idea is strategic, which involves reaching beyond the present day to focus on the next 3-5 years of the institution. This is common in strategic planning and new academic programs. In this model, two of the three areas (board of trustees, president, and faculty) work collaboratively to make a decision. Lastly, generative is the final structure. This idea is imaginative and seeks to find entirely new ways to organize the institution. In this way, representatives from the entire campus work together to make larger and most impactful decisions. The full presentation is available here.

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