Most higher education institutions are not organized to encourage, support, and reward collaboration. Yet, collaboration—across disciplines, functional units, institutions, and organizations—is a highly effective way of dealing with complex issues.
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academic leadership issues
One of the goals of any academic leader is the ability to improve morale. But how do you do that in difficult times? How do you make members of the faculty and staff feel appreciated and optimistic about the future when raises are minimal or nonexistent and operating budgets are reduced?
Many academic leaders are involved in regional accreditations, and I am no exception. The six regional accrediting agencies are becoming increasingly stringent in the application and interpretation of their standards, and this can make the accrediting process a difficult one to survive. Our institution was a founding member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and has been accredited continuously from the beginning. I have been involved in four of the 10-year “reaffirmation” activities, serving as chair of the college steering committee twice and serving as our institutional liaison with SACS for many years.
As every academic leader can attest, the current generation of college students has been blessed with parents who remain highly invested in every aspect of their children’s education. It is not uncommon for parents of students to call the dean, provost, or even president to discuss a problem with a course. Occasionally even the parent of a graduate student will attempt to intervene in an academic issue affecting his or her child.
Editor’s Note: Today we feature part 2 of Dr. Greenstreet’s “10-Point Survival Guide to Being, and Staying, an Academic Leader.” If you missed part 1, please click here for yesterday’s post.
6. Talk straight: Someone once said: “Sincerity is the key to good leadership — if you can fake that, you’re in.”
While entering the administrative ranks of academia might seem a formidable task, staying there presents a whole other series of challenges. The average length of stay for a dean, vice chancellor, or chancellor can often be fewer than five years and in some programs, the duration of leadership has been known to be considerably shorter.
It’s been said that no one dreams of someday becoming an academic administrator. It’s a tough job that’s only gotten more challenging as budgets shrink, public scrutiny rises, and responsibilities continue to grow. But what does it really take to be an effective leader?
During the past year or so the poor economy has forced everyone to do more with less. Now it’s almost December and we’re in the thick of the end-of-semester crunch … with the pressures of the holiday season closing in fast. Feeling a little stressed?
If you’ve worked in higher education long enough, you’ve already had this experience. A supervisor or member of your institution’s governing board calls an administrative retreat, and there, following the inevitable icebreakers, brainstorming, and team-building exercises, you are presented with the “bold new paradigm” that is to determine how you are to reorganize your unit, “reconceptualize” your leadership style, or modify every policy and procedure that is already in place. Someone, it seems, has been reading a management book and has bought into a new approach to how you should do your job.
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned all-day orientation program to get new academic leaders acclimated and ready to tackle the challenges of their new positions, right? Wrong.