By: Jeffrey L. Buller, PhD
Make no mistake about it: any job that requires you to say “No” to people from time to time will cause you to meet resistance. We sometimes end up angering individual stakeholders because we feel obliged to turn them down for a promotion, oppose them on an issue they care deeply about, or confer on someone else a benefit they strongly desire. In most of these cases, however, their anger is only temporary. But what do you do when you, as chair, dean, or vice president, make a decision that’s bound to alienate not just one person, but the entire upper administration, every faculty member in your unit, or all your colleagues?
By: John Gratto, EdD
The superintendent of schools called me at 9:00 p.m. on August 13. “Can you come and be an interim principal? My principal left on short notice, and I need an experienced K–12 principal starting in September.” “Are you crazy?” I said. “The fall semester starts August 24th!”
As we talked some more, I became intrigued with the idea of being a principal again. I had served as a principal at that school eight years earlier and greatly enjoyed the work. Moving on from there, I had worked as a superintendent of schools before retiring from school administration and then becoming a professor of educational leadership at Virginia Tech. In addition to enjoying working with students, teachers, and community members, I was an assistant professor of educational leadership, after all. I should be able to do what I profess to my graduate students!
My program leader agreed and said that she would run the idea by our faculty chair. If he agreed, she said that she would promptly work on finding highly competent adjuncts to take my place. He did, and she did. I applied for an unpaid leave of absence, and my request made it through the director of the School of Education, the dean, and finally a vice president.
By: Rob Kelly
Although student affairs and academic affairs share the same goal of educating students and preparing them for success after college, the two divisions don’t always collaborate as effectively or as frequently as they might. With changing expectations from students, parents, and society in general, perhaps it’s time to be more deliberate in forming partnerships across these divisions.
By: Rob Kelly
Department chairs can play a significant role in promoting collaboration and cooperation for the benefit of individual faculty members and the unit. In an interview with Academic Leader, Patrick Lawrence, chair of the department of geography and planning at the University of Toledo, outlined several practical steps that can help chairs support faculty and build a collegial department.
By: Samuel Vasquez, MEd
Student enrollment stands as a high priority for almost all higher education institutions. Practitioners who work directly in enrollment management are far too familiar with the broken-record-like repeating the question, “What are you doing to increase enrollment?”
According to the Ruffalo Noel Levitz 2016 Report: Cost of recruiting an undergraduate student for four-year and two-year institutions, the number of full-time admissions/recruitment staff at four-year public institutions is 125:1, while the ratio is 225:1 at two-year public institutions. In other words, two-year admissions/recruitment staffs must be equipped to handle a larger influx of prospective and new students with half the professional staffing capabilities.
By: Kimberley Buster-Williams
Ten years ago, I was a new director of admissions at the University of Michigan- Flint with an enormous goal: to grow enrollment at a school that had many competitors in the state. I was encouraged because we had strong leadership, a good product, great staff, and a strong infrastructure. We also had a customer relationship management system (CRM) with a bridge to our student information system (Banner). In admissions, we had a CRM manager, a business analyst, and a Banner specialist. This team was supported by a divisional ITS person who was very forward-thinking. In all, the team was small but mighty.
By: Suzanne Painter
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.
By: Thomas McDaniel, PhD
As a recently retired academic leader—a former department chair, division head, dean, vice president, provost, and interim president—I have had time to reflect on the joys and woes of leadership at a small liberal arts college. What successes did I have? What failures? What could I have done differently that would have made my college a better institution? “Too soon old and too late smart,” an old saying goes. But there is some value in ex post facto assessments, yes?
By: Jeffrey L. Buller, PhD
In geopolitical terms, the phrase strategic autonomy is often used to describe the desire of countries such as India and Turkey to negotiate treaties and engage in military activities without regard for the dictates of a stronger ally or superpower. In corporate or academic terms, strategic autonomy (along with its less mellifluous cousins autonomous strategic action and skunkworks) refers to a leadership philosophy that empowers individuals or small groups to engage periodically in activities that lie outside the scope of the institution’s strategic plan. (See, for example, http://tinyurl.com/lff84l8.) Strategic autonomy is common practice at businesses such as 3M, Hewlett-Packard, and Google, where employees are permitted to devote a certain portion of their time—typically 10 to 20 percent—to whatever they feel like doing. (See http://tinyurl.com/k8ktpvn.)