CURRENT ARTICLE • November 19th

Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Mental Health Effects of Noncollegial Colleagues

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Tracy Ford has just completed her PhD and is searching for a full-time position in a university. She is a much sought-after young academic as she has published six articles and presented at a national conference. Also, she has experience in teaching in an adjunct position, and her evaluations were outstanding. She is attending a national conference and is searching job listings for a position. One university catches her eye, and she is excited, as it is in the part of the country where she wants to reside, and the position sounds as if it was written specifically for her. Tracy discusses with colleagues the department where she will be if she is offered the job. The response by everyone she speaks with is the same: WARNING. TOXIC. STAY AWAY. People explain that the department is lethal and dysfunctional. Members of the department are in open warfare with each other. In sum, it is an awful place to work. She does not apply, and no one else does either.

OTHER RECENT ARTICLES

November 12

Can Innovation Be Taught?

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As budgets tighten at colleges and universities, academic leaders are repeatedly urged to be more entrepreneurial in their approaches. “It’s time to think outside the box,” we’re told. “Be creative. Be daring. Be innovative.” But what do you do if you’re not a naturally innovative person? Or how can you be creative if the people who work in your area rarely seem to display much creativity? In short, can innovation be taught? And even if it is taught, can it be learned?


leadership development November 8

Assessing the Impact of Leadership Development, Part 2: The Holton Model

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Elwood F. “Ed” Holton III, former director of the School of Human Resource Education & Workforce Development at Louisiana State University, recognized as early as 1996 that the Kirkpatrick Model of Training Assessment, although so widely adopted that it has become virtually an industry standard, had several serious drawbacks (Holton, 1996). To begin with, he noted that the Kirkpatrick model is essentially a taxonomy, or classification scheme, and he stated, “One shortcoming of taxonomies is that they do not fully identify all constructs underlying the phenomena of interest, thus making validation impossible” (Holton, 1996, p. 6).


Leadership development November 7

Assessing the Impact of Leadership Development: Part 1, The Kirkpatrick Model

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With all the investments that colleges and universities make in trying to develop their academic leaders—sending them to conferences and workshops, creating their own in-house professional development programs, assigning new leaders to mentors, and so on—institutions want to know whether they’re getting any return on their investment. In short, does the leadership development that current and prospective academic leaders participate in make any real difference? If so, what difference does it make? And in either case, how do we know?


republicans distrust higher education November 6

Why Republicans Distrust Higher Education (and What We Can Do about It)

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This is the first year that the Gallup poll has included political affiliation in its survey, so there is less historic data than one might desire. However, taken together, the two surveys point out differences in attitudes that can be either a problem for higher education to confront or an opportunity to steer the conversation.


higher education November 1

Higher Education: Exporting Middle-Class Dreams

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Many countries are currently considering diversifying their higher education systems by modeling U.S. community college-like institutional designs. Vietnam and China, along with other nations, are intrigued by, curious about, yet somewhat suspicious of American community colleges—especially in terms of their relationship to universities and higher learning.


Even if It’s Not Broken, It Can Still Be Improved: Reorganizing for Effective Alignment October 30

Even if It’s Not Broken, It Can Still Be Improved: Reorganizing for Effective Alignment

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When systems and processes are misaligned and do not function effectively or efficiently for students, faculty, or staff, the need for reorganization of academic affairs is obvious. But it’s a daunting task. Broach the topic in a meeting, and you’ll immediately detect a rise in the level of stress in the room. And when word spreads, even people in units not directly affected by the proposed reorganization often will become apprehensive as well. This reaction poses a dilemma: how can institutions handle alignment and unit reorganization without inducing unnecessary stress or anxiety?

Shying away from the task is not a viable option. It would mean missing an opportunity for transformational change in operations. Consider the following issues that can drive the need for reorganization within academic affairs, and the possible consequences if these go unaddressed:


succession planning October 29

Succession Planning: Developing Future Leaders from Within

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Succession planning, or targeted leadership development, is not very common in higher education institutions, perhaps because of the corporate cronyism it often calls to mind. Certainly, the values and hiring practices in higher education are inconsistent with the “good ol’ boy” network found in the corporate sector, but perhaps higher education institutions could apply some of the more benign aspects of succession planning to minimize disruptions associated with leadership change, preserve institutional memory, and make full use of the talents within the institution.


avoiding groupthink October 25

Avoiding Groupthink

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With the spate of books and articles that deal with the issue of incivility in higher education, it’s easy to conclude that destructive disharmony is the single biggest problem facing colleges and universities today. To be sure, lack of collegiality has become a significant challenge, and nearly every academic leader can recall at least one department or college that became increasingly dysfunctional because of its inability to work together in a mutually supportive manner. But the great deal of attention we pay to the challenges of incivility can cause us to underestimate the dangers of an opposing threat that also exists in many academic units: groupthink.