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Director Evaluations

April 24, 2012

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

In my previous installment, I discussed reading annual reviews of faculty and staff and meeting with each of 25 professors and lecturers in my office, going over their contributions during the 2011 calendar year.

Now the focus is on me, as faculty and staff review my performance during the 2011-12 academic year.

At the Greenlee School, the Promotion and Tenure Committee conducts an evaluation of my performance. Faculty and staff are surveyed using 26 questions plus 3 open-ended items that allow for positive or negative comments. All budgeted faculty, staff and lecturers receive the survey.

The P&T committee tabulates results and sends a summary to the dean who is tasked with providing me with a summary and then summarizing that meeting and the survey results with the faculty and staff.

Employees are not asked to provide their names on the survey, but do identify as faculty, staff member of lecturer.

I do not send the faculty any of my accomplishments or goals prior to the online survey. However, I have to provide that data—plus answer other questions—in an annual evaluation conducted by the dean of my college.

My supervisors are interested in my documenting “significant administrative accomplishments; progress toward achieving faculty diversity; major challenges; key administrative goals for next year; plus a summary of my teaching and research.”

Hence, I am evaluated twice, using different criteria—one faculty based, and another administration based.

This reflects why the chair or director’s job ranks among the most difficult in academe. Please one, and you’re apt to displease the other.

While I do not have to work on anything specific for the faculty and staff evaluation—it is primarily based on their memory of the past academic year—I do have to work on my conscience, taking time to see if I could have acted more in their interests or whether I have dealt fairly with colleagues.

They haven’t had significant raises in more than three years, because of the recession, and though I have no authority to grant such raises—as pay freezes were mandated by central administration—I know this weighs heavy on some of my employees. I didn’t have major run-ins with any faculty and staff, but I know some of them wish they had a director that cared more about research than professional practice and others, that cared about professional practice than research. (I have to support both because of the dual nature of our comprehensive school.)

Some colleagues also may not like my hands-off management style. As long as a faculty or staff member contributes, I try not to get in their way, believing my job as an administrator is to pool their individual talents rather than decree new ones.

No one feels entirely comfortable being evaluated, but there is always something for an administrator to learn by taking the process—or processes—seriously.
Next month I will heed what the faculty and staff say about my performance, because there is always something to learn, something that could have been emphasized or clarified, something that could be changed or enhanced. And a few employees, like a few students, will never be satisfied because they want something—or someone—else.

You can’t help that. All you can do is the best for each individual faculty member and give them the resources they need to do their jobs.

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