== Faculty Governance?==

Institutions differ in having more or less faculty governance. This is reflected in the frequency of their faculty meetings, and what is discussed there. Even within the same university, each department's customs vary, and may change when the holder of a key administrative position changes.

At one end of the spectrum, some departments have no regular faculty meetings. Decisions are made by the administration, and the faculty are simply informed. At the other end of the spectrum, some departments operate by consensus-based decision making, and have frequent and long meetings where even small matters are discussed at length until everyone agrees on a course of action. Most departments are, of course, somewhere in the middle. If you're thinking of accepting a faculty position, asking about their faculty meetings will give you some insight into how things operate.

Silence is GoldenEdit

Departments differ in how hierarchical they are. Does the chair assign service tasks, or do people volunteer? For new faculty members, it's important to remain relatively quiet during your first few meetings. You need to 'get the lay of the land'--understand how the meetings work and the patterns of existing social relationships. There may be existing tensions, and by expressing an opinion you may be walking into a long-standing dispute.

Most importantly, remember that expressing an opinion on something is de facto volunteering to deal with it. You do, indeed, want to volunteer to do your share of service work. But before you express an opinion on how the new student recruiting weekend could be better run, you should think carefully about whether this particular service opportunity is the right choice for you. Because the conversation is going to end with the chair suggesting the two or three most vocal people form a sub-committee to do the work. It always does.