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“What I am Working on Today” Blog

Ensuring Shared Governance

June 28, 2011

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

Administrators are on call even on vacations, as I found myself this week, with an email request to submit a proposal—along with Psychology and English—to be the tenure home of two assistant professor hires who predominantly would teach communication studies.

I can’t get into the entire history of the Greenlee School and Communication Studies. Suffice to say that the department used to be located at our School when I arrived in 2003; however, a few years later, we all agreed that our programs should part ways.

Since then communication studies migrated to English, then Psychology and finally the College; now it will not be a tenure home for any new professors. Hence, the email to solicit proposals.

Keep in mind that my faculty did not know anything about this as an initial administrative meeting about new hires took place at the College level after the Spring semester had ended.

My associate dean gave me a deadline to get a proposal to him, which caused me to ponder how I could ensure shared governance while honoring his deadline.

My chief concern involved the Greenlee faculty. After all, the new hires would have to meet our P&T requirements, if our proposal was chosen. Also, some might not appreciate the new reality concerning Communication Studies not being a tenure home anymore, especially since we split from that discipline in 2005. Was this an attempt to reunite us?

My advisory committee is made up of chairs of standing committees along with School administrators.

I sent this message:

“I am seeking your approval to (a) submit a faculty-written proposal for an intercultural communication studies hire who would be able to do diversity-related courses at Greenlee; (b) to name an ad hoc search committee … (which would have to be formalized with a faculty vote in September, per our Governance Document); and (c) to search at AEJMC, ICA and/or NCA and any other venue the ad hoc committee sees fit."

I felt a proposal for a diversity-based position could enhance our re-accreditation and better inform our mostly Iowa students, as we could always use new voices and deeper perspectives concerning bias, equity and social norms in any area of communication.

As anticipated, my advisory committee initially had demurs concerning budget, P&T requirements and other related issues. Two senior members emailed my dean for a meeting to inquire more about the hire during my absence. While some administrators might think this inappropriate, I welcomed such interaction, because my professors often help me ponder issues I otherwise might have missed.

In telephone conversations with me, both professors had serious concerns before they met with our dean. Afterward, I learned, they had a good meeting and seemed in favor of submitting a proposal.

I’ll return to the office soon and my colleagues will inform me of how we should proceed. I instructed them to write a position responsibility statement for the new hire and an advertisement, if they wanted to go ahead with the proposal.

Before sending the proposal the College, I'll also have to inform the entire faculty so that they know what we did. If more issues arise, we'll have to postpone our proposal until we can reach consensus in an August retreat.

That’s not teamwork. That’s shared governance.

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