Case Study #24: An Interdisciplinary Department in a Major Public Research University
Project: Planning and facilitation of departmental retreat on future vision
CMCT was approached by the Chair of an academic department in a major public research university that was having issues with its interdisciplinary identity: was it a department with a core to which different specialties contribute or a loose confederation of individuals pursuing specialties? Competing views of the field and the department made long-term planning for programs and faculty resources difficult. In addition, the academic complexity of the department was reflected in insufficiently streamlined governance and administrative processes, leading to excessive faculty time spent on meetings, committees and other administrative involvements.
Advise and help the departmental steering committee plan a departmental retreat to address identity, future vision and administrative streamlining, and serve as formal facilitator of the retreat process.
Through interviews with members of the departmental steering committee, CMCT gathered information and perspectives on the department’s issues, then helped the leadership group formulate a focused 2-day faculty retreat that would enable collective consideration of the issues, the development of consensus on overall identity and future, and action steps to further the vision and address specific issues. The retreat event was then facilitated by CMCT, using state-of-the art approaches and processes for context setting, structured plenary discussions, empowered breakout groups, decision-making protocols, and the adoption and prioritization of recommendations for action.
The retreat achieved its goals. The faculty reached consensus on key elements of the department’s central conceptual mission, re-affirmed the department’s constituent groups, defined new areas of research to be pursued in the coming 10 years, committed to instituting mechanisms for cross-group integration, and articulated steps for streamlining departmental processes.
Organizational Needs Assessment, Organizational Development, Organizational Structure, Future Vision Development, Change Management, Retreat Facilitation, Leadership Coaching.
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