Cabinet for Institutional Change
What does it mean to me as a faculty member to make decisions in a collegial way, or to be collegial towards others in our community? This is a very difficult question for me to answer concretely, but I think it has something to do with being able to disagree without being disagreeable. It is so easy, when someone presents an argument or (especially) makes a decision we disagree with, to imagine that person as a horrible terrible person for doing so. I think we do that a lot here. I am absolutely guilty of it myself. And on the other side of that coin, I think, decisions need to be made with the input and assent of the interested parties. In other words, even if we cannot agree that a decision was the correct one, if the community can nonetheless support it knowing that appropriate thought and consideration went into making it, then we would be in a good place.
I think we need to move towards the dramatic realization that there really isn’t anyone on campus who hates HSU or its mission of providing an excellent education. It’s just that we have different interpretations of what that means and how to achieve it. We will always disagree, and we will always disagree on the very important issues. We’re a university…. we’re supposed to disagree and argue and debate and talk our heads off. It would be nice if we could do that without demonizing each other.
How do we achieve that? I don’t really know. I do have some ideas… but it’s an emotional issue and I’m an emotional moron. This is the least tangible of the focus areas, but without respect on campus I don’t think any amount of futzing with procedures and structures will amount to very much, because they will just become clogged with the same lack of collegiality that we have now. How do we heal these wounds we all seem to feel, and how do we resist inflicting them on others? I am anxious to hear the community’s ideas. There are not going to be any magic solutions. But perhaps there are ways we can encourage communication and understanding.