The Wrong Way to Talk about Higher Ed
Picture a day when you’ve gathered your faculty together to have a substantive conversation about some pressing issue facing the institution. You explain the situation using terms such as revenue, the business of education, efficiencies, degree production, throughput, and the like. This may seem sensible given that, in part, universities function like businesses. As with our counterparts in the for-profit corporate world, we in education experience the reality of balancing budgets and making tough choices about how to steward limited financial resources.
Best Practices in Preparing Academic Leaders
It’s increasingly common for colleges and universities to offer programs designed to help chairs, deans, and other academic leaders become more effective. Sometimes falling under a center for teaching and learning, at other times existing as an independent office for leadership and professional development, these programs reflect the recognition that college administrators often come to their jobs woefully underprepared for their responsibilities. How can institutions know whether their academic leadership initiatives are worth the resources they require? Here are five practices commonly followed by successful leadership training programs.
Proven Tools for Academic Leaders to Successfully Lead Change
Department chairs and deans find that campuswide and unit strategic plans expect them to be change leaders. Add on the complexity of engaging in processes that involve politics, negotiation, persuasion, and inspiration, and change leadership can seem overwhelming.
When Academic Leadership Comes with Baggage
The baggage we bring to work with us can take a variety of forms. It could occur because we applied for our positions as internal candidates and suddenly find ourselves as bosses of the very people who only a short time ago we regarded as close friends. It could occur because we find ourselves in charge of a department or college in which a current or former mentor, romantic partner, or spouse works. It could occur because we develop a special affinity for someone who reports to us—or to whom we report—and we need to set aside those personal feelings when it comes to making a decision. In all too many cases, baggage places us in a lose-lose situation. If you decide in favor of your friend/lover/mentor, you’ll be accused of playing favorites. If you make a decision to that person’s detriment, the personal relationship could easily be strained.
Five Recommendations to Advance Careers in Enrollment and Retention Management
Whether you are an entry-level admission officer or an assistant or associate enrollment manager, you will, at some point in your career, desire to move to the next professional level, either at your current school or at another college or university. These five recommendations may help you make a successful transition.
Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership
Online learning has “gone from a wild frontier to a more established professional [undertaking],” says Jay Halfond of Boston University, Senior Fellow of the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy and Chair of the National Task Force on the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership. As the field of online education has matured, the need has arisen for standards and benchmarks that challenge university leaders to hold themselves accountable to practices that demonstrate commitment to online education and its place in the university.
Academic Leadership at Multicampus Institutions
Although all academic leaders face certain administrative challenges, those who work in a multicampus setting have unique opportunities and problems. The sometimes-difficult balancing act of preserving a single identity throughout the entire institution while also allowing each campus to develop its own distinct personality raises issues that administrators at single-campus institutions never have to address. The ability to make everyone feel included in a community that may be spread over hundreds of miles can be critical to an administrator’s success. And the need to appreciate each program and location for its unique value becomes an important responsibility of the academic leader. Having served on both a hub campus and a spoke campus at different institutions, I have learned the hard way just how destructive to morale a mistake in this area can be. The following guidelines are, therefore, lessons drawn from my own experience.
Leading Change Amid Opposition
When Amanda Gingery Hostalka became chair of art and visual communication design at Stevenson University, one of her priorities was to make sure that learning outcomes for every track and major aligned with the department’s and institution’s missions. The importance of this task was heightened by the department’s upcoming move into a new building.
Locating the Academic Leadership Land Mines
Beginning a position as an academic leader can be challenging under any circumstances. But those challenges increase exponentially when you’re hired into an institution. You enter a world where nearly everyone knows more about most local issues than you do. Alliances have already been formed. Coalitions that stand in opposition to those alliances have emerged. People have strong opinions about what should and shouldn’t be done, and they all have plenty of evidence to support their views. How do you know whom to believe and whom to regard with a bit of skepticism? If you make the wrong choice on an important enough issue, it can make it much harder to accomplish your goals. You can find that people mistakenly believe you’re aligned with this or that faction, causing them to interpret everything you say with a certain degree of distrust. Even in the best of circumstances, being in academic leadership can sometimes feel as though you’re constantly negotiating a minefield. But how do you locate the land mines in new and unfamiliar terrain?