Strategic autonomy November 3

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.)





Best Practices for Conducting a Faculty Search April 12

Best Practices for Conducting a Faculty Search

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“The success, stability, and morale of an academic department largely depend on its faculty.” This is according to Thomas Weidner, chairperson of the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science, and Samuel Cotton, chairperson of the Department of Technology, of Ball State University. At the 32nd Annual Academic Chairpersons Conference, they shared some of their best practices for conducting a faculty search that will result in a new hire who fits well within the department and will make a lasting contribution to its success.


Does Online Faculty Development Really Matter? March 18

Does Online Faculty Development Really Matter?

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Laurence Boggess has had an interesting career path to his current position as the director of faculty development for the Penn State World Campus. After 25 years as a K-12 administrator, he earned his Ph.D. at Penn State and continued on to take a faculty position in the department of educational leadership at Miami University. He moved to the college of education at Penn State before taking his current position as director. Along the way, he has formed his own opinions about the importance of online faculty development and whether it really matters.


Making Faculty Development an Institutional Value and a Professional Practice March 18

Making Faculty Development an Institutional Value and a Professional Practice

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Sometimes faculty development programs are inherited by an academic leader, and other times they have to be built. In either case the academic leader needs to heed some wisdom from the Chinese classic the Tao Te Ching. Faculty development is a long journey wherever one starts; like a journey of 1,000 miles, it begins with the first step. Faculty development is also to be understood as a destination. Only if one has a clearly identified end for it will it achieve its desired destination—a highly effective and participatory faculty.

Faculty development program success begins with recruiting faculty to a specific institution’s mission during the recruitment and interview process. Bringing faculty into an institution who are not committed to its teaching, research, and service mission incentives and imperatives will lead to mismatches between faculty career aspirations and institutional resource commitments. Such mismatches undermine collegiality and undercut faculty development efforts. Hiring faculty who are overly focused on their discipline versus teaching and the school’s mission will lead to faculty dissatisfaction and turnover, with negative consequences for the classroom and within academic departments.