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Coffee talk

Faculty coffee meetings open up lines of communication
Nov 9, 2009
By Colleen Kiphart

In its fourth year, the successful initiative continues to get conversations brewing between the president, executive vice president and provost, and faculty.

Knowing the importance of connecting with faculty on a regular basis, President Roderick J. McDavis and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit as well as her predecessor Kathy Krendl, have invited members of the faculty and a member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to join them for coffee twice a month for the past four years. The coffee meetings offer an informal forum where McDavis and Benoit can get to know members of the faculty more personally and listen to their concerns.

"It is important to take time to have conversations with faculty in a setting other than a meeting or at an event. These informal conversations help me to learn what is on the minds of faculty and to have a conversation about things that are important to them. The knowledge gained through these casual interactions helps me to be a better advocate for them because I have a better understanding of what faculty need in order to be successful," McDavis said.

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Chair Joe McLaughlin agreed, "I think any event that gets the president and provost in contact with faculty is a great idea. I especially like that these conversations do not have a pre-set agenda."

Benoit, who has been with Ohio University since July 2009, also endorsed the coffees. "I've found them to be enjoyable and useful. I communicate with faculty on a daily basis in many different forums," she said. "But it is great to have regular times set aside when faculty members from across the university, the president, a representative of Faculty Senate Executive Committee and I can sit down for an informal conversation. I always leave energized and in possession of valuable insights. "

The Office of the President estimates that 400 faculty members have participated. The sessions typically include 10 to 12 faculty members who are invited to attend after college deans submit their names. McDavis and Benoit strive to have every college represented at the table.

The benefits of the coffees extend beyond the fostering of faculty-administration relationships. McLaughlin, who also chairs the English department, said, "These events are also beneficial because we have a big campus with nearly a thousand faculty members. It is great for the faculty community to talk about substantive issues with colleagues whom they know quite well, casually or not at all."

 

Published: Nov 9, 2009 8:16 AM

 
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