The Chronicle weighs in on provostial teas

I know it’s behind the firewall, but if you get a chance, it’s well worth the read. Money quote:

Several times a semester, Peter N. Stearns invites a couple of dozen faculty members to join him for tea and cookies in the administration building at George Mason University. During teatimes, Mr. Stearns, the provost, takes questions and listens to professors’ suggestions. Sometimes, he says, professors share “imaginative approaches” to teaching that he then passes along to others.

Mr. Stearns believes that the teas have opened up communication with professors and are the kind of thing that leads employees to rank George Mason highly when it comes to relations between faculty members and administrators.

The provost says administrators at George Mason also try to react quickly when professors have good ideas. “If a faculty member comes to me or the president or a dean and says, ‘I’ve got this idea,’ our systematic reaction is: That’s great. Let’s make it work.” Just six months ago, a professor told the provost he wanted to create a center to help third-world countries enhance information security. Administrators gave the OK, and the International Cyber Center was born. The professor who started it is already planning the center’s first conference.