Update on the Central States Regional Meeting
The Central States Regional ECEDHA Meeting took place on October 13-14 at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK with ten department chairs in attendance. Discussion topics included the revision of the Chair’s Survey questions to best fit the operational needs of departments and the assessment of the survey’s utility, in addition to three topical sessions, namely, on budget models, industry advisory boards, and motivating underperforming faculty.
On the first day, Don Gruenbacher, Kansas State, and Jerry Hudgins, Nebraska, led a discussion on budget models from the traditional “incremental” model to the pure “responsibility center management” (RCM) model, and all the hybrid variations in between. There was a lively exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences especially with respect to tuition revenue sharing, service costs, and strategic investment. The session ended with dinner at a local restaurant, but the discussion continued through the evening confirming the timeliness of the topic and the motivational skills of the presenters.
On the second day, J. R. Cruz, Oklahoma, led a discussion on the effective use of an industrial advisory board. He started by listing typical duties of such boards, presented various organizational structures, and proposed techniques to motivate its members and increase their effectiveness. There was a lot of interaction among the chairs, who freely shared suggestions for specific activities to enhance the board members experience. Topics discussed included the involvement of student organizations, graduate student poster sessions, and frequency and duration of the meetings.
The last topical discussion, led by Erik Perrins, (Kansas), addressed motivating underperforming faculty, a very challenging topic fraught with peril. The discussion highlighted the need to differentiate between dysfunctional and unmotivated faculty; the former requiring some creative action, which is heavily situational rather than normative, while the latter may be more amenable to incentives and other motivational practices. The need for realistic assessment of the capabilities of each faculty member coupled with developing strategies to best utilize those assets for the overall betterment of the department was the main takeaway from the discussion.
The meeting concluded with a guided tour of the Radar Innovations Laboratory (RIL), a 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility dedicated to advancing radar science and technology at The University of Oklahoma.