The theme for today emerges from the need to identify a method for the diligent administration of the various institutions under the Society of Jesus. Today I stand on behalf of St. Xavier’s College, Hathroi to express my views on the subject.
I have always felt, that the Jesuits have encouraged interactions, feedback and contributions from the staff in various ways in the running of the college.
As an alumnus of the Xavier’s schools, I share certain beliefs, not in the spiritual sense, but in the sense of what motivates me to work and more importantly how work is accomplished. Since it is a question of the beliefs and cultures which someone has been exposed to, it has been my observation that employees who follow the Christian faith or who have been exposed to the workings of a Christian institution of study, prove to be more motivated workers, and understand the motives and aims of the institutions, they have a certain reverence for figures of authority, respect for certain Christian and even patriotic practices which have never been forced upon anyone. The need to share this knowledge, not only for convenience of administration but also for the building of students in the true Ignatian way, must be realised.
The college is comparatively new, most teachers have moved from other colleges and universities to be employed in the first catholic college in the city, therefore, the Jesuits are a new phenomenon for them. And so, my first suggestion is to start a kind of short, practical training program that underlines the ideologies of the institution. All of us present here are aware of the Ignatius’ pioneering thoughts especially in the field of education, which has now become common knowledge. This information is taken for granted by many who do not realize the magnitude of it, because of a lack of context. It is important that all should know, not for the sake of arrogance but for the sake of understanding a legacy which has spread so much good in the world.
This shall also prepare employees for leadership and administrative posts in the future, which, I think, should be given to those who are willing to take up the post and not be thrust upon those who are unwilling.
With this I come to the next point, that is, about sharing managerial posts. It must be made clear from the very start as to who has the power to make administrative, financial and academic decisions. Each unit, the administrative, financial and academic is equally important to the institution and must stand united, there should not be instances where employees or students circumvent one figure of authority and seek permissions or sanctions from another. It should also be made clear as to which decisions will be communicated from the management to the employees and which ones can be kept open for discussion. Making these points known from the start will prevent later criticism of the decision and the manner in which it was enacted.
Educational institutions are as large and complicated as any other organisation. However, these other organisations have people qualified in management. Management is not everyone’s cup of tea, but those who have an inclination for such tasks, should be encouraged to qualify themselves with an MBA degree, or a certificate or diploma course in management.
This is not to say that an employee’s major objective should be to vie for a higher post, equal emphasis should be given to teaching and research. Even now, the post of staff secretary or coordinator of the student council is most envied for the power it wields and most despised because of the responsibility that comes along with that power. However, there is little attention given to research, student publications and projects, academic events and teaching. The change must come from the top, attitudes towards academic events, the time and energy invested in them will change the way others perceive those posts and duties.
Since we are on the topic of communication, I take it as understood that we often face the problem of not spending quality time with one another: gossip and rumor fly about and on the whole there is the air of artificial cordiality among employees and even with the management. This is why I think having real conversations with the staff, individually, plays a role in building a bond between the management and the staff. Just a simple conversation alleviates the strain of formality and fear. With this bond so developed, there will be fewer people leaving the institution for reasons that are less important than providing a good education to students.
Fear also hampers people from making genuinely good and honest suggestions. Perhaps an online form or forum, with predetermined or specified themes regarding academic and administrative suggestions can be developed. In this manner, anonymity will encourage certain points to come up which some might be shy about sharing. Also, the person filling out the form cannot misuse this anonymity because of the predetermined criteria which he/she must stick to.
This article, written by Ms. Roxanne Castellas, a Lecturer in St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur was shared with you through Educate Magis in an effort to broaden our understanding of collaboration in Jesuit Schools. How do you as a teacher or administrator in a Jesuit School experience collaboration and how do you think we, as a global network, can improve our collaboration efforts? Please share your comments in the Conversation below. Thank you!