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The phrase, "We've got to stop meeting like this" is taking on new meaning in higher education as colleges and universities experiencing tighter budgets search for new ways to increase productivity, reduce costs and, as always, raise morale. Traditional collegial governance has in common with newer unionized approaches to decision making one especially notable characteristic-the need for meetings and committees. A conservative estimate of a person spending five hours in meetings per week would add up to 10,400 meeting hours in that person's lifetime. Higher education is probably responsible for more than its share of the 11 million meetings occuring each day in the United States (Doyle and Straus, 1976). It is not rare (unfortunately) for a medium sized university to accumulate from all its hierarchical levels as many as 65 committees a year.
Since time spent in committees and office meetings is time not spent on teaching, advising, researching, raising funds or other primary responsibilities, it has become imperative to examine the number of purposes of committees and to make quantum leaps in the sophistication of group decision making within them. Thus, this article is devoted to illuminating ways to make meetings in general - and committee meetings in particular - useful, more efficient, and even pleasurable.