CRLT Theatre Performance

I. CRLT Theatre Performance, Spring 2013

Navigating Departmental Politics

Navigating Departmental Politics depicts a faculty discussion involving important topics and how faculty rank and gender dynamics can influence conversations and affect participants. Educational theatre performance allows faculty to interact with the actors and each other in a way that promotes positive dialogue and personal change, as well as transformation at the institutional level.

During the workshop, there were several opportunities for enthusiastic discussion among varying groups of faculty. Results from the post-performance evaluations revealed that overall, faculty came away with very good impressions and learned from this experience.

II. Detailed Evaluation Results for “Navigating Departmental Politics”

Thirty-seven of forty-eight participants (20 female, 15 male, 2 unknown) completed evaluations for the 2013 CRLT Theatre performance.

Questions & Responses

  • I had an interest in the issues presented in the sketch prior to attending this session.
    N = 37 Mean = 4.78 Range = 1 (Strongly Disagree) - 5 (Strongly Agree)
  • This sketch enhanced or altered my understanding of the issues/topics discussed.
    N = 37 Mean = 4.51 Range = 1 (Strongly Disagree) - 5 (Strongly Agree)
  • The post-sketch discussion enhanced my understanding of the issues presented in today's session.
    N = 37 Mean = 4.78 Range = 1 (Strongly Disagree) - 5 (Strongly Agree)
  • I anticipate making changes to my current practices as a result of my participation in this session.
    N = 37 Mean = 4.27 Range = 1 (Strongly Disagree) - 5 (Strongly Agree)

Questions & Sample Answers

What was the most significant thing that you learned today from the performance? (open-ended)

  • The department chair has a responsibility to make the department's vision for the new hire clear, and to articulate this before the applicants are evaluated.
  • [There can be a] disastrous result with chair's lack of commitment and attention to process and vision.
  • Reinforced how difficult it is to effect positive change results with flawed personalities in charge.
  • It is difficult when a certain strong personality is allowed to predominate as a negative force.
  • Many of the interactions portrayed are similar to those I've seen in my department, which helps me understand different perspectives and personal histories.
  • The importance of people with formal power, making room for the dismembered/bullied within a department/unit/etc to be heard, respected and valued.
  • Power dynamics can be adjusted and controlled by proper procedures and staffing.
  • Leadership is the key to department governance.
  • Biases in hiring women faculty are real and these kinds of situations do occur.

What might you do differently as a result of participating in this session? (open-ended)

  • As a chair, pay more attention to seeking and fostering participation by all faculty.
  • When being a chair, make sure the goals and criteria are agreed upon and spelled out clearly. Recognize the importance of scoring.
  • Find a way for junior/minority members to be able to voice their views more freely and without fear.
  • More clearly articulate formal process at outings and meetings where important decision is to be made. I am a chair.
  • Take senior members of the department out to lunch (I am a junior faculty member). More networking among my junior colleagues as well.
  • More gender sensitivity.
  • Be more thoughtful about process matters for search committees.
  • Be strong advocate for junior faculty.
  • Pay more attention to subtleties at faculty meetings and be aware of processes - how important it is in allowing for full discussion.
  • Seek out advice from a female mentor on how to deal with department hiring decisions and other department practices.

How might the sketch or discussion that followed better reflect the complexity of the issues presented in today's session? (open-ended)

  • Spend a little more time on workable solutions for a few of the fundamental problems: over-bearing senior faculty, mentoring or facilitating junior faculty, conflict resolution by going outside the department and how to stand by your convictions but not be viewed as "difficult."
  • The members did a brilliant job. I can only suggest more time for discussion.
  • Would have been fun to envisage particular situations in a person's behavior and how that could have played out. Ex. Examine how each actor had power to alter process/outcome.
  • Perhaps some alternative scenarios could help. For instance, after the 1st skit, model behavior that could be more productive.
  • I'd love to have seen the inside of the search committee screening meeting before the department meeting - more insight into other forms/venues for leadership.
  • I think it was very relevant. Not suggesting any changes.
  • Nothing, it was spot on. If anything, I've witnessed interactions that are even more intense and hostile.
  • Superbly well done as is.
  • The discussion was mild in comparison to what really happens in those kinds of situations, the kinds of personal contact that faculty members have and the resulting vote.
  • This was very well done - nuanced and true to life. Plenty to think about.

Additional Comments

Excellent skit and follow up questions. Vignettes following main performance were very useful and thought-provoking.

I recognized some of my own behavior is a result of gender politics within my group. Intend to spend more time thinking about that in particular.

I enjoyed the performance as a way to understand the search that's currently going on in my department.

Very worthwhile in all contexts, very engaging.

Reverse genders in roles but keep same roles, ie, Gordon's role should be played by a woman and Jean's roles by a man. I have seen these dynamics and would subject that you may be "encouraging" gender bias where one might not necessarily exist.

Very good performance that made me think a lot of my department environment.

All "5's" are genuine.