of a Department or Program Head (continued)
The Head must be loyal and supportive to faculty members and
students. It is extremely important that the Head encourage,
acknowledge and compliment faculty members and students on
every appropriate occasion. It is only weak leadership that
seeks to elevate themselves. They are the ones who most often
attempt to lead by authority of position, and they seldom
have the respect of either students or faculty members.
so, faculty must be supportive of leadership, and if they
are not, then there should be new leadership. It is important
that faculty be unified to successfully deal with administration
and competition with other departments or programs within
the college or institution.
One of the more important qualities that separates the Head
from most faculty members is an ability to overview the entire
program, to plan and project it several years into the future
to identify goals and deal with change. Many teachers are
interested only in their field of expertise or courses. Any
program that is not in some degree of flux each year is going
to eventually stagnate. The responsibility of the Head goes
beyond relying on faculty recommendations for change, improving
the program or formulating new curricula. It is critical for
the Head to generate ideas or goals which are brought to the
faculty, preferably in writing, for discussion and decision.
There may be occasions where it is necessary for a Head to
overrule faculty members or make a decision without consultation.
Knowing when to consult or on what occasions to act independently
is perhaps one of the more difficult aspects of the position.
Leadership can make better decisions if they follow the rule
of doing what is in the common good.
is essential that the Head have ongoing formal and informal
communications with faculty members individually and collectively.
Regularly scheduled staff meetings are almost mandatory. The
Head does not have to be personally proficient in every aspect
of the program, but the Head must know what is required for
an effective educational program. It is the responsibility
of the Head to recruit the mix of faculty that collectively
make the Graphic Design program well balanced and comprehensive
with high standards.
important function of the Head is guidance and development
of young teachers and new instructors. This usually means
spending time counseling them about teaching, values, objectives
and passing on experience. Young teachers tend to be enthusiastic
but naive, and in their enthusiasm, they may go astray in
the classroom. The Head might discuss and advise on course
problems before they are presented to students or attend critiques.
It is extremely important that young or new teachers feel
a part of the faculty and that they are included in all aspects
of program operations.
Head must be able to be firm with administrators, faculty
and students when it is necessary. There is always room for
negotiation but there also is a point where further adjustment
is destructive. In instances where students should be dropped
from the program, when faculty members are out of line or
should not be supported for RPT, the Head must deal with these
problems promptly, directly and firmly. The Head must be principled,
and willing to accept the consequences of adhering to principles.
To not do so is to risk losing the respect of those whom they
What may be a serious flaw in education currently
is the tendency for upper administrators to judge the ability
to teach on the basis of individual accomplishments and student
evaluations. This might include how many awards, exhibits,
books or articles a person has done; it might be related to
reputation based on the quality of personal work or particular
commissions that have been highly publicized, or some other
similar criteria. Student evaluation of teachers is relied
upon much too heavily by administrators.
evaluations of teachers are based more on likes and dislikes
than being a true reflection of teaching ability. Students
simply do not have the perspective to make an accurate assessment
of teaching. Because of the pressure by administration for
high teaching scores, and because student evaluations play
such an important part in retention, promotion or tenure,
teachers may be corrupted into being more concerned about
student evaluations than teaching. In this instance, student
evaluation of teaching becomes counterproductive to its intent.
Peer evaluation (within the program) and an administrative
evaluation should have equal weight with student evaluations.
better gauge of teaching abilities for me is the effectiveness
of the individual to communicate with students, to have and
teach worthy values, to be demanding of student performance,
to be a good role model and to respect and work with colleagues
in the program for the common good of students.
the objective of education is student learning, it stands
to reason that criteria for evaluating teachers, individually
and collectively, should be based on student performance in
school and growth after graduation. It is my observation that
faculty as an instructional team dealing with the entire Graphic
Design program is more germane to quality of student education
than to individual teacher accomplishments in the studio,
academia or profession. Sometimes this includes faculty members
who might not be particularly articulate but who have devised
other means for communicating with students. There are teachers
who are dedicated to education but have weak records in research
or professional accomplishment. If their contribution to the
over all program warrants it, the Department or Program Head
along with other faculty members are obliged to aggressively
support these teachers during review or tenure time. It is
best to educate administration and the appropriate committees
as to the value and importance of these individuals before
the fact rather than during or after the fact.
quality of a Graphic Design program lies in the cohesiveness
of the entire faculty based on common goals, values and mutual
respect. This does not imply leadership surrounded by clones.
Ideally, there should be some balance of personalities, expertise,
interests and teaching styles. The key ingredient within the
instructional team is respect for one another. Faculty members
do not have to agree on everything or even like one another,
but there must be mutual respect.
divisive faculty member can be devastating to an entire program,
students and other faculty members. It has been my experience
that when teachers are reluctant to participate fully in the
review process or fail to interact with other faculty members,
there is a serious personnel problem. It is also evident that
there are going to be additional problems in the future such
as a split in faculty, undermining of colleagues or program,
and division among students. One person expressed their reason
for not participating as, "I don't want other teachers
commenting on work done in my classes, so I don't talk about
work done in their classes." Whatever the reasons, it
invariably reflects insecurity. The irony of the situation
is, that within my experience, almost every one of these individuals
was an excellent teacher with abilities and expertise that
the rest of us could never match. The reason why individuals
choose to be divisive is difficult to comprehend because it
is so destructive. Usually it is attributable to some combination
of jealousy, insecurity, ambition, fear, competition or ego.
However, when this situation develops, it should be dealt
with directly and firmly as it is so pertinent to the overall
good of program, students and faculty.