What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Faculty Buy-In’ May 5

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Faculty Buy-In’


At a recent meeting with fellow community college administrators, I found myself increasingly bothered by the repeated invocation of a certain term: faculty buy-in. At this meeting, the term was included as part of some well-intentioned advice (“If you want this program to succeed at your campus, you absolutely need faculty buy-in”), as a means to highlight a successful venture (“I was pleased at how quickly we were able to secure faculty buy-in”), and as a way to underscore the potential pitfalls of moving the college in a certain direction (“Without faculty buy-in, this initiative is doomed to fail”). Upon reflection, I realized that it was more than just the repetition of the term that bothered me—it was also the actual use of the term itself and what it implies about how faculty members are viewed at many institutions.

Collegiality Incentivized March 18

Collegiality Incentivized


Traditionally a person in higher education is hired as an assistant professor. After an agreed-upon number of years, usually six, she or he is either tenured (aka, the Holy Grail of higher education) or terminated. At this time, the person also applies for promotion to the rank of associate professor. Of course, he or she is highly motivated to attain tenure and promotion in rank. This motivation to teach well, produce scholarly research, and have an enviable record of providing service to the department, school, university, and community is logically self-evident: the reward of tenure and promotion. The same reward-incentive system is in place when, after a number of years, this associate professor is rewarded with the rank of full professor. The person is rewarded based on how well she or he meets standards of teaching, scholarship, and service. However, of equal importance to the overall effectiveness of a person’s worth to a department is how she or he interacts with colleagues. If a person is downright nasty, unwilling to collaborate with colleagues, does not do a fair share of the work, and is consistently toxic to students, peers, and staff, should that person be rewarded with tenure and promotion in rank?

Peacemaking 101 March 17

Peacemaking 101


You are the chair of a department of six full-time faculty members. You have been chair for three years, are tenured, and hold the rank of full professor. Four of your faculty members are tenured, three hold the rank of associate professor, and one, Dr. Bill Dudas, is a full professor. One faculty member, Dr. Amanda Thompson, is a tenure-track assistant professor in her fourth year at the university. You consider Thompson your most valuable and productive faculty member. She is a master teacher, a great scholar with many databased articles published in highly regarded journals, and on five university committees as well as three key committees in the department. She is project director for a US Department of Education five-year grant to fund students in the department’s master’s degree program.