Assessing and Fostering Departmental Collegiality

Most faculty members are attracted to higher education to both have autonomy for pursuing their intellectual interests and collegiality for engaging with a group of intellectual peers.

This ideal is met when there is a natural flow of connection and friendly relationships among the faculty members and unmet when there is friction, tension, and isolationism within the department. “Department chairs who are proactive in assessing their departmental cultures for collegiality can take steps to encourage positive faculty interaction and create an environment that is more welcoming to new faculty” (Bensimon, Ward, & Sanders, 2000, p. 134). Below are two checklists to help with this endeavor.

Assessing Levels of Collegiality

  • Do junior faculty and senior, new and existing faculty routinely interact?
  • Are relations in the department strained or cordial?
  • Do faculty collaborate on projects?
  • Do faculty co-teach courses?
  • Are there faculty who are excluded from departmental interactions?
  • Are there faculty who are excluded from departmental gatherings?
  • Are there cliques of faculty that either purposefully or mistakenly exclude others?
  • Do any faculty in the department feel left out?
  • Are decisions for the department made by only a few of the faculty?
  • Are there important things happening in the department that some faculty are not aware of?

Fostering Collegiality

  • Create ample opportunity for faculty to come together both formally and informally.
  • Plan one activity, e.g., colloquia, lunch, at least once per month during the academic year that includes and welcomes all faculty.
  • Financially support opportunities for team teaching.
  • Encourage collaboration between junior and senior faculty.
  • Equally inform all faculty about important departmental decisions.
  • Act as a role model for inclusive interactions with your faculty.
  • Encourage constructive disagreement among faculty.