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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Faculty Meeting Bingo

I'm on my college's undergraduate curriculum and assessment committee, and I'm sure it's because of some egregious sins I committed in a past life. We had a meeting the other day, and after an hour and fifteen minutes, it was still going strong with no end in sight. So, I left to go pick up my kids. After looking at the agenda, I thought we could get 'er done in about 30 minutes, but that means they would have had to try something that was clearly out of their comfort zone - like SHUTTING UP AND FOCUSING ON THE MATTER AT HAND!

It seems like you have the same characters and scenes in far too many faculty meetings (the actual people and issues involved change from meeting to meeting, but the play remains the same).

A while back, I came across the game called "Buzzword Bingo" (as pointed out by some of my commenters, there's an Educational Buzzwords version and a Law School version known as "Turkey Bingo"). For those who aren't familiar with it, in the game of BB you get a Bingo card filled with common business buzzwords. You take it to a meeting, and when you hear an overused buzzword, you mark it off on the card. That way, what had been an irritating, overused phrase becomes something you get excited hearing.

I'm convinced there's a niche market for an academic version of BuzzWord Bingo that can be played at faculty meetings (particularly in committee meetings). The main difference between Faculty Bingo and Buzzword Bing is that you can have boxes not just for buzzwords but for cliched behaviors. I've listed a few options for the squares of the Bingo card, but I'll add others as readers send them in:
  1. A senior faculty member brings up the same sore point that he's been harping on for the last 10 years. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
  2. A spirited discussion breaks out about changing ONE word on a document that (at most) two people will ever read. The discussion goes around and around for an hour or more.
  3. The word "Rubric" (our new word du jour) is used. And I always thought Rubric was the character Steve Martin Played in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Also (from the Cynical Professor: the terms cognate disciplines, course embedded assessment, and subvention, from King Banaian: the terms student learning outcomes, program assessment matrix, degree map, and strategic cooperation (which I think is the antonym of sincere cooperation), and from Frank: the term "co-curricular " (often used in the same breath as "extra-curricular")
  4. Someone (usually the guy in #1) complains about how things have changed (i.e. students are so much worse, they used to have a 5/5 load, it was much harder to publish in top journals, etc...) since they they were starting out.
  5. Don't forget the ever-exciting "Let me give a little institutional background" guy. He is worth 20 dead minutes in every gathering. (also from Cynical Prof)
  6. Someone frets about how any disagreement will reflect badly upon the program / department / institution's 'mission. Bonus points for being in a very secular setting or campus while muttering about the same. (HT: Ancarett)
  7. The tired old hand who tells everyone that whatever's decided doesn't matter because nobody has any real power here, anyway. (HT: Ancarett)
  8. #s 11-16 are compliments of Mike Munger: When I was at [name of previous job university], we always....[what they did].
  9. I hear that in [name of department], they just got [n new positions, a budget increase, new space]. Why don't you get that for US?
  10. The "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" guy. Committee chair reads proposal, clear that everyone agrees, if you voted now. But the Snatcher prepared a talk, and by golly he's going to give it. Starts by talking about how 25 years ago he proposed something like this (not MUCH like it, though), and was turned down. So, it's really time that anyone opposed then explains how they could have been so stupid. 7 or 8 people raise hands to respond. Vote is finally taken, an hour later, and it's 15-9. The 9 people, who were ready to support the proposal, end up sabotaging it because they are so angry at the Snatcher. After meeting, Snatcher congratulates self on "victory", since vote was positive.
  11. The by-laws guy. Either we are doing something not in the by-laws, or the by-laws need to be revised to reflect what we are doing.
  12. They guy who starts out with, "I'm going to support this, but..." and then runs down the proposal, or candidate, for ten minutes. Finishes with, "But I'm going to go along, and vote yes."
  13. The Dean's mouthpiece. "I don't think the Dean is going to like that. We need to think strategically!" This same person is perhaps the least strategic, and most politically inept, person in department.
  14. #s 17 & 18 are from Mike Barry: At our faculty meetings, there's always at least one blatant suckup. The dean will start the meeting off and the suckup will loudly thank the dean for all of his support (in something that made the suckup's job easier).
  15. We also have a social issues person. We could be talking about something like upgrade cycles for our computers and she'll somehow try to weave in a socially responsible angle. There are always a few faculty who, as soon as their hands go up, the rest of us groan. Of course, we have students like that!
  16. David Tufte contributed #s 19-23: The guy who insists that everything has an ethical angle that is in conflict with how we should present ourselves to stakeholders.
  17. The person who is secretary or otherwise in charge of documents who doesn't seem to be able to use Word, PDF or e-mail properly (usually you see this one on campus-wide committees
  18. The person who makes copies for the committee, but never makes enough - as if they had to type them all by hand.
  19. The former administrator who views the committee as a forum to perpetuate the views and continue the actions that got his butt booted out of the previous position.
  20. The student representative who never shows up for meetings.
  21. #s 24-25 are compliments of David Hammes: There's the "Oh, so what you're saying " or "Let me see if I understand you" guy who restates everyone's previous comments (oft times incorrectly), thereby dragging the meeting out even longer.
  22. The guy who "debates" himself out loud, changing his position with every comment he makes (kind of like Colin "Bomber" Harris)
  23. Someone says the word "Stakeholder". NOTE: this was found on the comments on Newmark's Door: "Personally, every time I now hear the word 'stakeholder' the first thought that comes to my mind is putting a stake thru the heart of the person who said it."
  24. Free-Wheelin' Guy: After anyone has presented their scheduled, carefully thought-out proposal, Free-Wheelin' Guy takes the floor for 20 minutes coming up with off-the-cuff suggestions for "Someone" to do. No-one ever does what he suggests (including him) but every meeting he still does his thing.
Any other suggestions? Put them in the comments, and I'll add them in as they come (with appropriate citation in the style manual of your choice). And pass this along to your friends. Once I get to about 40 or 50, I'll make up a handy sheet with boxes to check so you can keep track.

And thanks for playing...

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