By: N. Douglas Lees, PhD
For many years, those in higher education have been hearing about the aging of our faculty members and the new hiring that should take place, if resources allow, to replace those who leave. The mass exodus predicted has been blunted to some degree by the end of age-related mandatory retirement and health care issues for faculty whose spouses and children require health insurance coverage. Years of poor salary increments and low investment yields, which have resulted in slow growth in retirement accounts, have made it difficult, from an economic perspective, for some faculty to retire on time. Although all of this together has reduced the bolus of retirements predicted, there are vacancies occurring that need to be filled.
By: Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti, MS
Much focus is currently turned on the metrics that measure the effectiveness of higher education. Selectiveness of admissions is certainly one such metric, but universities are also being judged on employability. However, it is not just the first job that matters; how employable graduates are long after they don cap and gown is also a critical measure of the effectiveness of an education, and institutions need to turn their focus to the lifelong relationship they will have with their graduates.
By: Jean A. Wihbey, PhD
Strong and innovative leadership collaborations keep the college in the community landscape. Today, the president and the college’s leadership team are invaluable resources to states and to the nation—they educate the many talented people who work in our industries, businesses, and civic sectors. Chief executive officers address the overall balance of education at their institutions by looking at community advisory council input, educational trends, and state needs.
By: Thomas McDaniel, PhD
A couple years ago, I wrote an essay for Academic Leader suggesting that new deans should examine the administrative implements in their metaphorical “toolbox” to make sure they were ready for the job at hand: providing leadership to their institution when difficult dilemmas require effective administrative action. Those tools included: (1) a hammer when it was imperative to come down hard; (2) a saw when a dean must decide to cut some program or individual loose from the institution; (3) sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots left by hammer and saw; (4) a drill when a complex issue requires more “drilling down” to reach the substrata of the issue; and (5) tape to bind up the fractures, broken relationships, and disconnected policies and practices needing mending.
By: Jeffrey L. Buller, PhD
In a position such as department chair or dean where interpersonal skills are so important, you might think that all academic leaders would be extroverts. In fact, once while I was out on an interview, a university president (whose wife made a living administering personality profiles) told me that he’d never hire a dean who didn’t have a Myers-Briggs profile of ENTJ. (My own profile is INTJ, and needless to say, I wasn’t offered the job.) That incident taught me a lot about how even experienced academic leaders sometimes misunderstand what academic leadership is all about—not to mention that they sometimes misunderstand what purpose the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is intended to serve.
By: Thomas McDaniel, PhD
“Thanks for your ‘Dean’s Dialogue’ columns, Tom—you offer some good advice to deans and other administrators. But it seems like your deans are always noble and virtuous while the faculty they lead are villains and miscreants. What happens when good…
By: Robert E. Cipriano, EdD
Spoiler alert: people are serving in the role of department chair for fewer years than in the past. Since 2007, my colleague Richard Riccardi and I have yearly surveyed department chairs across the country in an effort to better understand and appreciate the prominent characteristics of this distinct and unique position. More specifically we were interested in seeking information regarding their tenure, the rank they hold, if they considered themselves a member of the faculty or the administration, the pleasant and unpleasant tasks they perform, their education and training for the position of chair, the skills needed to be an effective chair, the challenges they face, their plans after they are no longer chair, and their thoughts about collegiality. It is interesting to be able to determine if there were significant changes over the 12-years of the study.
By: Henry W. Smorynski, PhD
One of the biggest problems with the general applicability of current leadership theories and successful practices has been that leaders applying their successful behaviors, traits, and dispositions in one academic community do not replicate that same success in another academic position or even in a different time period in the same institution. This strongly suggests that other factors—such as organizational setting, organizational history, informal leaders, the nature of problems to be addressed, institutional readiness for change, and the style and success of previous leaders, especially the preceding leader—are equally or more decisive for leadership success.
By: Jeffrey L. Buller, PhD
The start of a new year seems like a good time to scan the higher education landscape and identify a few of the issues that academic leaders will need to deal with in the months ahead. To be sure, all of us will have our own set of issues at our home institutions, and others may identify the current year’s most critical issues differently. But here are my nominees for the top three current challenges in higher education leadership today.