The academic ideal of shared governance requires significant participation of faculty in the decision-making and service aspects of a university. This is especially true at the department level, where a relatively small number of faculty must work together and contribute to the mission. As a result, one of the more challenging roles for department chairs is dealing with disruptive faculty. This article is designed to provide some insight on this challenge within the frame of managing difficult conversations. The authors begin with a presentation of motives and biases from the perspective of both the chair and the faculty. Efforts to build diversity and inclusion are then used to illustrate the process of managing faculty and building consensus. Finally, aspects of negotiation that might be applied to these relationships are discussed.
Bartholomew is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX. Sanders is with the National Center for Women and Information Technology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO.