Motivational Interviewing June 2

Using Motivational Interviewing to Engage Faculty and Facilitate Change


Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a collaborative communication style, developed in the field of clinical psychology, for strengthening an individual’s intrinsic motivation and commitment to change. Within an atmosphere of acceptance, compassion, and empowerment, people’s ambivalence about change is identified and explored by evoking their own reasons to change with respect to their values and goals. Thirty years of research shows this approach to be effective in facilitating behavior changes in contexts ranging from substance abusers entering treatment to dietary changes in diabetics, medication compliance in cardiovascular disease, and increasing water sanitation practices in remote South African villages, among others. More recently, MI has been brought into the context of organizational change, including academia.

Online Program Planning May 24

How to Be More Strategic with Online Program Planning


Although you might know a few faculty members who are adamantly opposed to online education, online programming—the development of individual courses and degree programs—continues to expand. My experience, both at my institution and in my conversations with online administrators across the country, reveals that colleges and universities are beginning to think more strategically about their online offerings. I especially see evidence related to developing strategic plans for online education. If you Google “online education strategic plan,” you will find dozens of examples that various institutions have developed.

Leading throughout the Organizational Life Cycle May 8

Leading throughout the Organizational Life Cycle


According to organizational life cycle theory, institutions and units within institutions progress through a sequence of stages—inception, growth, maturity, and decline or revitalization. Understanding the challenges specific to each stage can help leaders be more effective. Although inevitable, progression through these stages can be upsetting to those who are averse to change, but “if you can convince them that this is a natural progression, it may allay their fears or concerns,” says Claire Phillips, dean of instruction at Lone Star College–CyFair.

New Academic Programs in Lean Financial Times May 3

New Academic Programs in Lean Financial Times: Process Revisited and Lessons Learned


In lean financial times, colleges and universities need to ask themselves whether to take a conservative approach to new program development or to scan aggressively for growth markets, seeking opportunities to invest in the future. In the case of University of Mount Union (UMU), we took a more aggressive approach toward investing in the future, and the investments are paying off.

STEM Fatigue March 16

STEM Fatigue


For a little more than a decade, the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have been enjoying something of a privileged status at American colleges and universities. While enrollments in some other areas are stagnant or declining, they have been rising steadily in many STEM courses. In state systems, investment in faculty, equipment, and facilities often focuses on STEM while other fields go begging. Public figures call for more students to become interested in STEM, often at the same time as they denigrate such disciplines as anthropology, art history, and philosophy.

What accounts for all the positive attention the STEM disciplines have been receiving? The answers are many. First, the severity of the economic recession has caused many students, parents, and politicians to focus on the immediate employability of college graduates. Even if a classicist is as likely as an accountant to find suitable employment within six months of graduation, it is easier for many people to see the connection of business programs to jobs than it is to make that same leap for the liberal arts. “A college of engineering produces engineers,” some may think. “A college of humanities produces . . . what exactly? Secular humanists? Is that a good thing?”

Even if It’s Not Broken, It Can Still Be Improved: Reorganizing for Effective Alignment March 16

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


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: