Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Who am I representing on this committee?

I think this is an issue that is rarely discussed.
People just assume their point of view is the valid one. Then they are surprised or upset when the "representative" does not act as they "should".

Suppose Professor Smith from the Chemistry department is on a committee from the College of Arts and Sciences that determines some internal funding or policies for the departments within the College. Here is a list of different interests and perspectives that she could represent:

-her own
-her research subfield of synthetic organic chemistry
-the chemistry department
-just the science departments
-all the departments in the College
-the Dean of the College
-senior management of the university
-tax payers, alumni, students., ..

Idealists might say that of course she should consider and understand all views. But that rarely happens. Some seem to think that in this cruel world representatives should fight tool and nail for their own interests, or at least those of their department. This may mean belittling others.

My own view is that representatives each bring a unique perspective; but, they should be striving to do what is in the best interests of the institution as a whole. Unfortunately, this sometimes means going against the interests and views of their department and of senior management.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. At a faculty meeting yesterday, one person strongly supported a particular point of view on the topic at hand. A few minutes later, he graciously pointed out a logical way of thinking about the issue that would lead to the opposite conclusion than the one he supported. This is an example of someone who can influence a discussion in a sensible way.