Three clients have recently considered quitting their jobs. Two Deans and one Chair, at different institutions, are so frustrated that they have discussed returning to faculty positions or even leaving higher ed altogether.
What is going on here?
We know that higher education, as an industry, is experiencing enormous stress. As discussed in an earlier newsletter (Questioning Higher Education’s Value
) numerous factors are forcing institutions to take a hard look at their value proposition.
Those most responsible for making decisions about how the institution will respond to these forces (trustees and senior leadership) are developing bold and innovative visions in order to strengthen their institution’s visibility and viability in the increasingly competitive market. They are looking to Deans and Chairs to realize these visions with minimal controversy and little, if any, additional resources.
At the same time, individual faculty members are seeing the demands of their discipline change. They are being told to teach differently in support of scrutinized learning outcomes, to obtain more funding to support their necessary research, and to volunteer for more service to strengthen community. They are looking to Chairs and Deans to advocate forcefully for their needs and to secure additional resources.
Given these conflicting demands, is it any wonder that some Deans and Chairs are considering throwing in the proverbial towel?
Few academics begin their career with the long-term vision of serving in academic administration. They assume these roles in order to be of service to their colleagues and their institution. They do so at the risk of losing professional momentum in their field of study while taking on roles and responsibilities for which they have not been prepared.
Higher education cannot afford to further alienate those who are willing to step into these difficult stewardship roles.
The three clients referenced above are continuing in their positions. One is focused on a “bottom up” approach, building on small agreements made with sub-groups of faculty. Another has clarified expectations with senior leadership and is creating more “top down” change. And the third conducted an inclusive, iterative process with all stakeholders resulting in a new leadership structure.
How is your institution responding to these challenges? And what more might you do to help?