Succeeding in an Academic Career: A Guide for Faculty of Color

By Mildred García | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Office Politics and
Departmental Culture

Evelyn Hu-DeHart


THE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT

Among the many things we never learned about in graduate school, one matter concerns what might be termed "office politics" among the faculty. Oh, to be sure, we heard bits and pieces of gossip about faculty relationships and interactions, but as graduate students, we were rarely ever privy to what really went on behind those closed doors during departmental meetings or in the chair's office. Meanwhile, most of our professors closely guarded from everyone else, including graduate students, the nature and substance of their office politics. So it is not surprising that when we stepped into our first faculty position, having just made that rapid and abrupt transition from ABD to Ph.D. during the summer before the fall semester, we had little idea how to behave like a member of a faculty outside the classroom, the one arena in which we have a sense of control. For the most part, our academic mentors did not prepare us for dealing with office politics all during our graduate training.

Office politics plays itself out according to departmental culture (and by extension, campus and institutional culture), for it is that culture and its traditions which determine to a large extent the nature and practice of office politics. Dealing effectively with office politics, therefore, must

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