Academic Citizenship at the NE/MA SuperRegional

April 30, 2008

The College Music Society launched a national discussion of academic citizenship among its members at the Salt Lake City conference in November. The subject was the topic of a plenary session at the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic SuperRegional meeting in April at Gettysburg College, with national chair Anne Patterson leading the discussion.

She prefaced the highly participatory, upbeat session with the comment that focus has shifted from the stereotypical lone, individual academic, creating a private niche, to a collaborative effort throughout the organism of the music unit andbeyond thatthe entire institution. Spotlighting the question that participants in the Salt Lake City conference found most engaging, the group shared experiences and techniques for the community-building needed to bring academic citizens together to produce a sense of investment, responsibility, and accountability within and beyond our institutionsin short, the good practices that make some music units so effective. Participants recognized the challenges of working in large, departmentalized units, but nonetheless focused on the positive things that units of any size are doing to strengthen the fabric of university life. A summary of the discussion appears below.

  • Participants agreed that collegiality is key in a successful unit. Civility; shared values; shared responsibilities, such as committee work; awareness of the universitys mission, access to administrators; and focus on students were identified as the major components in one departments smooth operations. For some, civility includes taking care of business, i.e., department business, when it arises, rather than waiting for issues to go away. Doing ones fair share of the considerable work load that accompanies an active department was high on many lists as a measure of collegiality.

  • Speakers advised avoiding the trap of thinking of us vs. them. When units see themselves as part of the larger institution, it is easier to think of everyone as us.

  • The contributions of part-time faculty are significant and must be valued. One department gives adjunct faculty voting rights and a voice in faculty meetings. Another provides development funding for adjuncts, as well as for full-time faculty members. The result has been an increased sense of investment among adjunct faculty.

  • Conference goers stressed the importance of participating in campus-wide strategic planning. The benefits of working with colleagues from other departments are numerous. Doing so allows us to get our story out; to explain the demands of a discipline where performance is integral to the program from start to finish; to have a say in the establishment of outcomes or performance criteria; andperhaps most importantto develop advocates across campus.

  • The members of one enterprising department of music make a point of including colleagues from other disciplines in grant proposals. Cross-disciplinary work raises the awareness of, and respect for, the work of music faculty by faculty in other disciplinesand often makes the proposal more appealing to funding agencies.

  • Likewise, partnering with colleagues from across campus in calling campaigns and other fundraising efforts by the institutions foundation creates good will and clarifies the important work that foundations do to support the academic effort.

  • Apart from grant projects, cross-disciplinary work is enriching for all participants. Examples of natural partners for this are legion.

  • Some noted that university campuses often have many musicians and artists in residence who are not professionally associated with academic programs. Some institutions sponsor gallery shows by non-academic artists and concerts/recitals by musicians in other departments.

  • Faculty members underscored the value of leading our students to be active citizens of the university as well. Suggestions were academic, as well as social in nature. Music students should be encouraged, for example, to participate in campus-wide events, such as undergraduate scholarship conferences, to participate in music living and learning communities, and to become conversant with the work of fellow students in art and theatre. At one institution, performance majors are required to organize a campus performance somewhere other than in the Department of Music and to be responsible for advertising, press releases, programs, and set-up.

  • Some departments take steps to ensure that students are prepared with the social graces, as well as with professional knowledge. Students are taught about concert behavior and dress, then attend four teas throughout the year to practice social interaction with attendees from a variety of backgrounds.

The last contribution of the morning demonstrated that preparing students with an undergraduate education is truly the work of an academic community. One department recognizes graduating seniors with a dinner, to which any faculty member at the university who has taught the graduates is invited. Students are reunited at the event with the host of teachers and mentors who have guided them through their undergraduate experience.

2032 Last modified on May 7, 2013
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