About this book
This book is an invitation to academic administrators, at every level, to engage in reflection on the ethical dimensions of their working lives. Academics are very good at reflecting on the ethical issues in other professions but not so interested in reflecting on those in their own, including those faced by faculty and administrators. Yet it is a topic of great importance. Academic institutions are value-driven; hence virtually every decision made by an academic administrator has an ethical component with implications for students, faculty, the institution, and the broader community. Despite this, they receive little systematic preparation for this aspect of their professional lives when they take up administrative posts, especially when compared to, say, medical or legal training.
The authors intend this work to be a first, rather than a final word, on the subject. This is because the practicalities of academic administration have not been the subject of much sustained ethical reflection. Surprisingly little has been written about the ethical challenges that academic administrators are likely to face. Most of the literature relating to academic administration focuses on "leadership" and draws heavily on management and social science theory. The importance of focusing on ethical deliberation and decision-making often goes unrecognized. What is needed is in-depth analysis informed by the general principles of professional ethics, as well as the more than 2000-year-old body of philosophical work on ethics.
It is clear that academia should examine its own domain. In focusing on ethics in academic administration, this book explores the issues that are faced every day by those managing seats of learning. What challenges does a new chair face when suddenly she is no longer simply a friend and colleague, but now the person adjudicating disputes, evaluating performance, and recommending career-impacting action? How does a dean respond to the struggles of balancing a budget and promoting his college’s interests? When a donor calls the president and requests a favor, what are the implications for the campus, internally and externally? It is these conflicts, and others, that are analyzed in this much-needed volume.