November 12, 2018

Can Innovation Be Taught?


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?

5 Tips on Closing Programs November 8, 2017

5 Tips on Closing Programs


There comes a time in the life of an academic program when it is no longer viable due to dropping enrollments, lack of faculty resources, budget cuts, changing external contexts, or other factors. When the decision is made to close a program, the department chair’s attention to planning will be vital. You will need to plan a timeline for action to make sure that your institution’s related services are synchronized with the program closure and that others affected by the closure are not caught off guard. More important, you will want to ensure that current students are not left adrift when faculty turn their attention to new programs.

academic leader checklist October 20, 2017

Checklists: An Academic Leadership Tool


There are probably few tools we can use in academic leadership that seem less interesting than a checklist. But as Atul Gawande argued in The Checklist Manifesto (2010), checklists aren’t an excuse for mindlessness; they’re a recognition of how complex our lives have become. It’s the humble checklist that keeps us safe when a pilot makes a pre-safety inspection, and when a building inspector decides that a house is ready for a family to move in. Checklists don’t mean that our work as academic leaders can be reduced to guidelines in a policy manual. It means that our work is multifaceted and has an impact on the lives of others.