Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Did I say that?

"[We] have already managed to get approval from most of our faculty regarding decisions both on the overall building design and on specific lab sizes and layouts."
Silly me. I thought that when a group of faculty and staff all got together in a room, and after much discussion all chose one specific plan for the new biology building by saying some equivalent of "yes, I agree, that's the best option," that the faculty members actually meant that they agreed.

Yesterday I learned my lesson, as shortly after I made my previous post, my office was swarmed by three members of my department who made it very clear they were unhappy with the options chosen for a lab and stockroom they were interested in, and wanted the designs changed. Said lab is intended to be used by many different instructors, and thus the department had a group of at least six people all working on the layout of the room. The details of the discussion with these specific department members don't matter, but what became very clear after only a few minutes (of the hour-and-a-half-long discussion) was that these department members wanted me, as the committee chair, to quietly overrule the rest of the members of the committee and change the design option for this lab.

What irritated me about this whole interaction was the underhanded manner in which it was carried out; all these individuals agreed to the plans during the previous meeting. Then, these department members decided that they didn't like the plans and, instead of calling for a new meeting, wanted the plans changed immediately without consulting anyone else.

I'll have no part of that. In response to these concerns I've called for a meeting of the entire department, where we'll all be able to go over these issues in public, everyone can voice their concerns, and (hopefully) in the end we'll come to a group consensus.

Of course, from a personal perspective, this has meant that I've spent most of the past two days talking to everyone involved in this mess, finding a meeting time the entire department can make, informing everyone of the meeting, and having multiple exchanges with the architects to let them know we're having consensus problems and need more information.

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