As a new hire, once you’ve worked out your relationship with your academic department — how to establish your voice in meetings, how to avoid factions, how to keep your head down and get your work done while maintaining a presence in decision-making — it’s time to think about where you fit into the rest of the campus.
When I interview faculty job candidates, I always point out that their department will want to own them, and keep them focused on the departmental curriculum and major. As dean, my job is to remind faculty members that outside their department lies a big university that needs them, too. The business of my college and the larger university can only get done if professors take an interest in campus governance and in (with apologies to those who are allergic to corporate language) innovation.
Why? Because the things that get done at the department level — curriculum approval, hiring, assessment, grievances — also have to get done at the university level. Colleges and universities have governance structures in place to do that business, and those structures vary from campus to campus. But they all depend on faculty stepping outside their departments and examining proposals from a whole-campus perspective. How would a proposed change in degree structure in one department affect another department's enrollments? What would a curricular change mean for external accreditation or time to graduation?
Your role in campus governance. None of the work you will do on curriculum or policy committees was taught in your graduate programs, and it’s a rare mentor who prepares you for how to participate in governance work. It’s mostly on-the-job training, and you’ll be expected to pick it up quickly.