leading change February 14

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

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An amazing metamorphosis sometimes affects academic leaders between the time they interview for the job and the time they begin their position. As candidates for the position, prospective administrators are usually overwhelmed by the quality of the students and faculty. They’re impressed by the curriculum and mission of the institution, college, or department they may soon lead. They’d be honored to join such an elite group of talented individuals. But then, by some mysterious transformation that begins the day they sign the contract, they arrive on the job with all kinds of ideas about how to rescue this now not-quite-so-impressive unit.


Academic retreats to enhance performance January 19

Using Academic Retreats to Enhance Academic Affairs Performance

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Every academic leader invests time in strategic planning groups, presidential cabinets, councils of department chairs, dean’s council meetings, and similar regularly scheduled meetings. Academic leaders occasionally leave the campus for meetings of professional societies or to participate with other academic leaders in retreats. What few institutional leaders do is develop a meaningful retreat on campus or at a location close to campus for a day to day and one-half of their academic team including deans/assistant deans, service units (registrar, counseling, support services), institutional research, budget officer, etc.), head librarian, and the secretaries servicing major officers.



college teaching December 29, 2017

Effective Transitioning to College Teaching: Part 2

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Fourth, no matter how well intentioned and no matter how much material is covered, student learning will be severely limited by lack of retention. Retention in learning must be built into syllabus construction and course delivery from the first day of class. A useful guide to have all new faculty read is L. Dee Fink’s Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (2003). Courses that generate both significant and sustainable learning involve challenging students; using active forms of learning; having teachers who truly care about their subject, students, and teaching and learning; having teachers who interact positively with their students; and creating a good system of feedback, assessment, and grading.


transitioning to college teaching December 27, 2017

Effective Transitioning to College Teaching: Part 1

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In recent years, there has been more attention given to the reality that most PhD programs do not prepare future faculty for college teaching. Even when college teaching is addressed, it is frequently in the context of sharing insights in teaching subject matter from innovators in the various disciplines. So the reality persists in colleges and universities that most PhD graduates are well prepared in their (possibly narrow) subject fields but are ill prepared to teach in the college classrooms of today and tomorrow.


Faculty mentoring program December 15, 2017

Establishing a Quality Faculty Mentoring Program

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Teaching at the collegiate level is a wonderful yet complex career. We hire people and expect them to teach effectively, publish frequently, serve as effective committee members, and maybe even serve as successful administrators. How many new hires on your campus arrive fully prepared and competent to fill that job description?

Too often, a college’s expectations are not matched with appropriate training and resources for faculty members, especially during the more formative years. When a faculty member fails to meet expectations or falls short in the rank-advancement process, the time-consuming and costly process of recruitment and hiring must begin again.


informal faculty leadership December 1, 2017

Informal Faculty Leadership: Spreading Innovative Teaching

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There’s a long-standing tradition of informal sharing of pedagogical innovation among K-12 teachers and a whole line of research on this phenomenon, which is known as teacher leadership. The same type of informal faculty leadership exists in higher education as well, but there is very little research on this topic.

In an effort to better understand informal faculty leadership in higher education, Pete Turner, education faculty member and director of the Teacher Education Institute at Estrella Mountain Community College, conducted a study that combined faculty surveys and administrator interviews at three Landmark Learning Colleges identified by the League for Innovation in the Community College.


Strategic autonomy November 3, 2017

Fostering Strategic Autonomy

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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.)