Change Leadership in Higher Education
Leading change involves some challenges, but this useful guide is a strong conceptual and pragmatic resource for forecasting those challenges, and going in prepared. Administrators and faculty no longer satisfied with the status quo can look to Change Leadership in Higher Education for real, actionable guidance on getting change accomplished.
Change Leadership in Higher Education
Whenever you talk about change in higher education, someone will inevitably express one or both of two common sentiments. The first is that it's a little bit odd to regard change in higher education as a topic in and of itself because higher education by its very nature is constantly changing. With new technologies, increased competition for students and resources, shifting social attitudes about the very purpose of higher education, the continual emergence of new disciplines or fields of inquiry, changing demographic patterns that alter who goes to college and when, and similar developments throughout society, no one actually needs to initiate change in higher education. It's already there. The second cliché someone will invariably introduce at some point in the conversation is that despite all the changes it's going through, higher education doesn't handle change particularly well.
In many ways, even though I hear this second remark all the time, it's far more surprising than the first: Why should the very institutions that exist to develop innovative ideas and question traditional ways of doing things be so resistant to change that they often stifle it? As every academic leader knows only too well, many strategic planning processes either collapse entirely or fail to produce even a small fraction of what they promised. The result of these two commonly cited truisms is that (1) colleges and universities are perennially in a process that (2) they don't handle well and that produce few tangible results. Change processes in higher education usually mean missed opportunities and a resulting waste of resources.
In that context, what can yet another book about change in higher education bring to the discussion that is new and helpful? Certainly the very topic of change in higher education today has become almost a cottage industry. As we'll see in chapter 1, there's no shortage of books arguing that higher education is undergoing, should undergo, or must undergo radical change. Many of these books are also rather prescriptive about the type of change colleges need. "More distance learning is the answer!""No, emphasizing job skills is the answer!""Wait. That's not right. Active learning is the answer!""To the contrary, cutting costs is the answer!""Seriously now, a focus on the STEM disciplines is the answer!""Abolishing tenure is the answer!""Greater competition is the answer!" Every six months a new "answer" appears, and yet the question is never really answered, and the problem is never really solved. The contribution that I'd like to make to this ongoing conversation is that effective change leadership in higher education is rarely if ever about imposing specific answers; it's about asking the right questions . For this reason, the change leaders we'll meet in this book (particularly in chapters 7 through 9) who have brought about sustained and meaningful change at their institutions-as opposed to change that is merely trendy or designed to look as though the school is moving in a new direction while it basically continues along its current path-are those who devote their energy to changing the culture, not mandating a new vision. As we'll see, genuine change leaders are almost never voices crying in the wilderness that this idea or that idea is the wave of the future. They're the ones who become catalysts for change.
Despite what we read in newspapers and see on television, lasting change in higher education usually isn't the product of a billionaire who pours resources into academic models that initially seem impressive but ultimately prove to be unsustainable. It's surprising how often today's "next big thing" quickly becomes yesterday's fad of questionable value. I've witnessed that pattern often enough to conclude that the last thing the world needs is yet another book designed to tell you what to change at your college or university. Instead what I think