Advocating for Additional Resources


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I’m a senior faculty member at a major university where I have been for over four years. During that time, basic administrative needs have been provided for only a few months at a time. I’ve encountered resistance to being provided help for tasks such as scheduling meetings, updating key documents to support grant submissions, tracking educational activities, etc. What’s the best strategy to take on my departmental supervisors? At this point I’m thinking about hiring a person into my lab group and getting the department to at least partially support them.”

This is a great question, and it’s across all industries, not just higher education. I’m sensitive to it. I sit on the board of directors of a university, I completely understand resources and budgets and here’s what tends to happen, right? The pressure on you as a faculty member is getting more intense all the time. The load is getting greater. There’s pressure on tuition. Administration is constantly weighing the talk between delivering a great student experience, which is expensive (athletics, academics, all that kind of thing).

So, I don’t know what department you teach in, but I would put together a business plan for it and actually say, look, here’s what the demand is, here’s what the load is. Here are the things that I am doing, here are all the things that are necessary to get this successful student outcome (which is what everyone is looking for). And if we get to successful student outcomes, these are all the things necessary given the current resources. We need to make a choice. We either compromise these student outcomes a little bit or we’re going to need a little help. Here’s what I propose – half an FTE, perhaps a student intern, whatever it is that you propose, and what the load is going to be to the budget.

So you have to approach it from two perspectives – student outcomes and budget – and then you’ve got to present it in a way that doesn’t just say “I need help” because everybody needs help. Everybody could use another set of hands, eyes, or ears.

There have been times when I have worked in companies in my past where I took out of my own pocket, but most of the time what I did was find another route, right? I either went to another department and said “Do you want to share this FTE with me? You take half, I take half.” Or I’ve worked with part time people, or I’ve exchanged something other than money for services. You know, something that would be helpful to them. But you have to approach it from a proposal perspective. Obviously, your department writes grants, so I look at it the same way, only not a grant.

I hope that’s helpful, take care.

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