Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recognizing Teacher Scholars is Great Customer Service Excellence

Somehow higher education has developed the notion that people who teach cannot and do not do research. That to do good research one needs time off to conduct the work. And that work must be a major book or scientific discovery. Nothing is really farther from the truth.

A good teacher is often a good researcher and producer of good work just as part of what they do as professionals while a good researcher is often, too often a poor or at least weak teacher.

Nowhere is this attitude more embraced than in the university while in the community college faculty have found time to do great teaching and research. Community college and small college professors have heavy teaching loads but I have found that many of them do some great research and produce some very important work outside of the classroom. This is especially so if we realize that to do good academically-related work does not always mean publishing arcane papers such as the lack of boat shoe images in Moby Dick.

When I was a community college dean many too years ago and also as college president (work I do miss on many a day) I realized that we had defined research much too narrowly. Yes we did have faculty who published papers in research journals and in academic tomes> We even had a Spanish professor whose book was the bestselling text in the country and another who wrote a bestselling novel. But what we needed to realize was that this is not the only valid type of service to the college and general community we needed to recognize.  Yet it was the publication of a book or a major article that called for celebration. That was an error and a case of poor customer service excellence to one of our most important sectors of the institution – our faculty.

So what we did was expand the definition of research beyond the book or research article to that work outside of class that added to the general store of knowledge, art, music and community value done by members of the college community. For example if an art professor had a piece of work in a juried show, that was research. It would not normally have been recognized except by a few close friends but that was the work of a researcher and artist in his or her field. If an English teacher had a poem published, an architecture professor had a house she designed built, a phys ed teacher wrote articles on running for the newspaper, an IT prof write a program to help others get something done, a music teacher gave a concert performance and so on. That was all research and academic work that should have been recognized so we did do.

We printed up engraved invitations to an evening reception during which we honored all the faculty and staff who had contributed research and work beyond the classroom just as we would have a party for someone who had published a book. We took out ads in the local papers to invite the public as well as mailed out the engraved invitations to the local officials, newspapers, politicians, colleague at the school and of course the families and guests of the honorees.

We had a catered party with wine, cheese, hors d’oevres and recognized the work of each of our honorees. Their work was laid out on tables and easels for everyone to see, hear and recognize. The ceremony recognized the contributions of all the participants and was a great success each year we did it.

This was a great recognition of the contributions and research that our faculty and staff made to add to the knowledge, culture and value of the society just as faculty do at every school. It also recognized the people as the full academics they were and are. They were teachers first and foremost but they were also researchers and academic professionals whose work and love of their work need to be recognized and rewarded. They too deserve recognition of service excellence and these ceremonies still stand as one of the greatest and most positive experiences I had in my administrative career and hope they are still recalled by the participants.

As a side note, I happened to visit one of the honorees and the framed certificate recognizing his scholarly work still hung on the wall of his office. I urge you all to recognize the work of all our great teaching and researching faculty. If you want more details just contact me at and I’ll be glad to help you put a ceremony recognizing our great teacher scholars together.

UMass Dartmouth invited Dr. Neal Raisman to campus to present on "Service Excellence in Higher Ed"  as a catalyst event used to kick off a service excellence program.  Dr. Neal Raisman presents a very powerful but simple message about the impact that customer service can have on retention and the overall success of the university.  Participants embraced his philosophy as was noted with heads nods and hallway conversations after the session.  Not only did he have data to back up what he was saying, but Dr. Raisman spoke of specific examples based on his own personal experience working at a college as  Dean and President.  Our Leadership Team welcomed the "8 Rules of Customer Service", showing their eagerness to go to the next step in rolling Raisman's message out.  We could not have been more pleased with his eye-opening presentation. Sheila Whitaker UMass-Dartmouth

The University of Toledo was able to really get its customer excellence focused after Dr. Raisman and his team performed a full campus service excellence audit of the University. Dr. Raisman’s team came on campus for a week and identified every area we could improve and where we are doing well. The extensive and detailed report will form a blueprint for greater customer service excellence at the University that will make us an even better place for students to attend, study and succeed. Thank you, Dr. Raisman, for doing a great job. We unreservedly recommend his customer service audits to any school looking to improve customer service, retention and graduation rates.    Iaon Duca, University of Toledo

The report generated from the full campus customer service audit that N.Raisman & Associates did for our college provided information from an external reviewer that raised awareness toward customer service and front end processes.  From this audit and report, Broward College has included in its strategic plan strategies that include process mapping.  Since financial aid was designed as the department with the most customer service challenges that department has undergone process mapping related to how these process serve or do not serve students optimally.  It has been transformational and has prompted a process remap of how aid is processed for new and continuing students.                            Angelia Millender, Broward College (FL)
N. Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops, presentations, research, training and academic customer service solutions for colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as businesses that work with them 
We increase your success


No comments: