"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Change and Turf

When we merged the journalism and communication departments four years ago--amid much controversy--I'd go out on the back porch and write snippets in a journal, almost every day, of insights into higher education, departments, administrators, faculty, students, everything that I'd come across. These journal thoughts helped me survive. Most were pretty random, but I've tried to organize them some.

So here are some snippets of Clark's wisdom, or lack thereof. More coming from time to time to add some intellectual meat to this blog.

* Turf—maintaining it, guarding it, increasing it—is the ruling principle of higher ed administration. Don’t’ give it away without recompense.
* Departmental divisions no longer make sense in the explosion of overlapping knowledge, but are cohesive factors for faculty and students and an administrative necessity.
* Learning to balance that inconsistency is vital to leadership and to providing a good education.
* The more you try to break down departmental turf, the more progressive you are. But you’ll also be a threat to those whose only security is the castle walls of academic turf.
* Change in higher ed is glacial.
* Be passionate about what you do. Passion helps melt glaciers.
* Faculty are routinely and justifiably skeptical of administrative change because so much has been promised or pushed and so little accomplished, other than more slogans, meetings and paperwork.
* If you’re going to lead change, you have to overcome that attitude and you’d better succeed.
* If you can’t be passionate, change jobs.
* Change is uncomfortable, so find a way to soften it, like a new pair of shoes.
* Pay attention to icons and symbols. Changing them carries risks that can’t be anticipated.
* Every group is like a vampire—it needs new blood or it will wither and die.
* Things change so fast these days that a year ago is ancient history—especially to young people.
* Longevity can be a blessing or a curse. You need continuity to build a program and direction. But it can lead to stagnation.

That's what brewed in my coffee pot

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