Developing Faculty For Academic Leadership

Developing Faculty For Academic Leadership
By Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

There are many challenges confronting higher education in the 21st century. These challenges range from cyclical state and federal support, legislative oversight and accountability to a changing student population and the need for more effective leadership in academia. One key to addressing these and many other challenges is the continuous development of leadership skills for junior and senior faculty, and the need for administrators to find innovative solutions to fulfill university missions and serve its customers.

At historically Black colleges and universities, the need for leadership development of faculty is more pronounced. Recent changes in high-level leadership and administrative positions at HBCUs have caused some concern for many. But for Black colleges and universities as a whole, the need to “reinforce” an academic leadership pipeline is critical and essential to producing talented graduates consistent with the missions of these institutions. “The pipeline needs to be strengthened,” says Dr. George Ayers, president of an academic search and consulting firm focused on recruiting and developing Black leaders in higher education. Due to an aging faculty and staff at many HBCUs, it may become difficult to recruit and retain future administrators in the face of competition from corporate America and other educational institutions.

The two challenges facing HBCUs in developing faculty for academic leadership positions are increasing the pool of graduates with advanced and terminal degrees, and training faculty for administrative responsibilities in higher education. In recent years, many academic-focused organizations and universities have created programs for developing faculty for administrative positions. For example, the University of Illinois has a “Faculty Fellow in Academic Administration” program for tenured faculty allowing them to complete one-year half-time
assignments to gain experience in administration. The University of Florida has a similar initiative. The American Council of Education (ACE) has several leadership programs for faculty development.

As administrative challenges continue to confront HBCU presidents, deans, chairs and program officers, academic leadership roles extend to all levels of the organization to maintain academic excellence and recruit quality faculty and staff. However, it is debatable whether HBCUs are developing the individuals prepared for these positions. In most instances, good teachers are permitted to become administrators despite their limited experience. A tenured or non-tenured faculty member usually becomes a department chair based on evidence of excellence in teaching, research and service. In other instances, certain administrative roles may experience a high turnover due to ineffective and ill-prepared personnel. However, high-level administrators are typically trained or exposed to their positions by their education and/or extensive experience. Thus, a truly effective academic leader must possess the necessary skills and commitment to serve others to make the transition to an administrative role. The person must be committed to moving from a “discipline expert” to an “academic manager.”

Recognizing that there is a greater need for academic leadership at HBCUs, what is needed is a collaborative HBCU faculty development initiative to cultivate the next generation of academic leaders, and train and expose faculty with less than 10 years of academic experience to address the future administrative needs of Black institutions.

— Dr. S. Keith Hargrove is chairman of the industrial engineering department at Morgan State University in Baltimore.



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