Committees. Seemingly endless, boring discussions going nowhere. No university survives without them, and no faculty member can avoid them. Why are there such a plethora of committees in the university? What functions do they serve? And how can you, as a committee member or chair, ensure that the work gets done quickly and effectively with a minimum of conflict, boredom, or wasted time? Author Neil J. Smelser has incorporated decades of experience on a myriad of committees from the local level up to national policy advisory groups into this book. He skillfully demystifies committees and explains how to get on certain committees and avoid others, how to get the committee work done as efficiently as possible, how to ensure that your views are properly represented in the committee's report, how chairing a committee can help shape its mission and direct its outcome, and how to use committees as a positive factor for your academic career. Smelser's advice will be useful to anyone working in the university setting.

Giving Birth to Committees

Giving birth to committees

Before you agree to serve on a committee, you should reflect on two matters: (a) how and why the committee came into existence, and (b) why you might or might not want to serve on it. Those two matters are closely connected, and they are the subject of this chapter. I consider first the reasons for forming committees; second, the “charge,” or the motive imparted to a committee; third, the selection of members for a committee; and finally, the motives you might have for joining a committee.

Forming a Committee

Permanent Committees

Most American colleges and universities have a roster of committees that are much the same as those in all other such institutions. There are administrative committees that deal with ...

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