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The College Administrator's Survival Guide Hardcover – August 28, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Tina Gunsalus's seminar on administrative survival skills kept a crowd of academic administrators rapt for five straight hours, and eager for more. Her advice was lucid, practical, and remarkably shrewd; she adroitly showed us how to elicit the best from ourselves and our faculty even in the worst situations. (Michael Schoenfeldt, Associate Dean for Humanities, University of Michigan)

Tina Gunsalus has enormous experience as an administrator, and in this book, with the conversational tone that makes it so enjoyable to read, her knowledge and common sense shine through. The case studies she uses can be as funny as Richard Russo's Straight Man. Unfortunately, what sounds like a novel can be a real-life problem, and her recommendations for finding solutions are very useful. She used the cases in a workshop on our campus, and the academic leaders who attended found her compelling and thought-provoking--just like the advice in this book. (Hal Irvin, Executive Director, Organizational Development, Georgia Institute of Technology)

Where was this book when I was department chair? It provides an extremely useful and comprehensive set of tools and skills that would help almost anyone in academic administration--and in a conversational tone, with a good dose of humor. I found myself laughing one minute and shaking my head in recognition the next. Colleges should buy this book by the truckload and provide copies to all the poor souls who are about to be thrown into the abyss of academic administration. I learned a tremendous amount. (Laura Schreibman, former Associate Chancellor, University of California at San Diego)

With chapters such as "Embrace your fate" and "Bullies," the author reveals a down-to-earth style. Gunsalus says budgets and curriculum planning are a piece of cake when compared to people management. During her years in university administration she has had to investigate myriad problems, including sexual harassment and financial improprieties. The upside of confronting such "yucky problems" is her book, which reflects her hands-on experience with reworked procedures and managerial training. (Jean Marie Angelo University Business 2006-11-01)

About the Author

C. K. Gunsalus is Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics in the College of Engineering and Professor Emerita in the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674023153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674023154
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Survival Guide deals with the human relations complexities administrators like deans and department heads face in higher education, especially in big public universities like the author's own University of Illinois. Much of its advice can be summed up in (a) be aware that administration is a *role* (actually, a number of them) that must be *played* in an appropriate way, (b) when problems of certain sticky kinds come up, consult with the people at your institution who are paid specifically to worry about those kinds of problems, (c) know and observe the rules governing what you do and be careful to document your actions accordingly - "Process is your friend".

But this dry précis sells the book way short. Its notable strengths include:

* A rich lode of cases taken from the author's own experience and gleanings from years of consulting on other campuses. Anyone who has ever spent time as faculty or staff at a university will find much to interest them here.

* An analysis of the various kinds of problems likely to come up, together with clear guidelines for dealing with them, distilled from her deep experience and reflection.

* A natural and easy delivery that makes the book engaging and easy to read, and a consistently-maintained clarity that makes it easy to understand. I worry just a bit that some academic readers will conclude that any book so easy to understand must not be saying much. (Wrong!)

* A shining authenticity that has to appeal to every person of good will. The book is a potent manual of practical idealism dedicated to "leav[ing] the institution better than you found it".
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Format: Hardcover
Although I am not a college admnistrator, I attended a presentation by C. K. Gunsalus (full disclosure: I attended because I know her relatives in my area)and found myself looking forward to her upcoming book. Her commonsense approach to awkward situations and challenging personalities is both novel and imminently practical. I am a small business owner. I encounter the business-world counterparts of the characters in Professor Gunsalus's book regularly, and I can tell you that her approaches work equally well in both worlds. I heartily recommend this book. In fact, I am purchasing a copy for each of my staff with the hope that we can bring Professor Gunsalus's positive and ethical systems into practice in our offices and we will be discussing her examples at our next staff retreat.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that pinpoints specific issues in Higher Education and how to handle them properly as an administrator.

Each chapter of this book discusses a particular difficult issue in higher education administration. Examples include specific "hot-shot" faculty asking for unfair favors, the handling of controversial issues between faculty members and students, negotiation for shared resources across departments, and handling adult bullies, etc. Each chapter begins with a mini-case to illustrate the difficult problem involved. Then it discusses the related issues and how to handle every detail. At the end of each chapter, it presents the solution for the mini-case.

Reading this book enhanced my understanding of academic issues from an administrator's point of view. I had always thought that managing a higher education institution was less challenging than managing a Fortune-500 company. On the surface, it seemed that everything would just go by the book. Now I know that, it is far more complex than going by the book, though knowing "the book" is crucial. Being a college administrator has its own set of challenges: managing faculty members who do not want to be managed. Due to the employment structure (with tenured faculty, faculty who can bring in a vast amount of resources: publication and research grants, etc.), it is not entirely a direct command-and-control situation. In addition, since a university environment is quite decentralized, there are a lot of complicated interpersonal power issues among faculty, graduate assistants, and students. According to the author, one leverage administrators should use is the established mission and goals of the university.
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Format: Hardcover
Even after thirteen years as faculty member and five as a college administrator in Upstate New York; this was a reminder of the basics. I found this to be an easy read. I read it in a matter of two evenings. I have decided to take it upon myself to purchase this book for many of my friends who are new administrators.

This would be a great book for all new hires.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought my first copy of this book because the author is a friend, and - OK - that's what you do when a friend writes a book. Then I read it and have since bought three MORE copies because it really is terrific. I bought two for family friends graduating from college, because I wish I had read this before I took my first professional job. I bought another for my son for the same reason, even though he is not that age yet. But I know when the time comes, reading it will help him launch his working career, or at least avoid some major pitfalls.

Careers are like so many other events in life: there is what you learn in school and what you learn the hard way. This book teaches - in an entertaining and amusing way - what most of us learn the hard way and what some of us are still learning. And it teaches those practical lessons from a moral center that is seldom articulated.

My only real quarrel with this book is its title: It should be the Everyone's Survival Guide, because it is not just for college administrators. Anyone who has worked in an organization will recognize the types and the traps discussed in this book. This book would be a great gift for any young person starting a career, or anyone thinking about a new job or a career move. You won't be disappointed.
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