Developing Academic Leaders

Cultivating the Skills of Chairs, Deans, and Other Faculty Administrators

Topics: Leadership and Professional Development, Faculty Affairs, Academic Affairs

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By reading this study, members will learn to:

  • Cultivate Core Leadership Skills in Department Chairs
  • Deliver Just-in-Time Support to Department Chairs
  • Provide Customized Development Resources for Deans
  • Scale Leadership Development to Reach All Leaders
  • Prepare Top Talent for Succession to Senior Roles

Executive Summary

Today’s academic leaders must do much more than in decades past, allocating scarce resources, directing complex change initiatives, and making influential decisions at a rapid pace.  New regulatory requirements have intensified administrative burdens on leaders at all levels; increasingly rapid news cycles and the rise of social media technologies have raised the stakes on leadership missteps.  What is being asked of leaders, as well as the context in which leaders are operating, is more complicated than ever before.

Though leadership development has been common practice in other industries for decades, corporate trainers and consultants seldom translate well into higher education. Corporate world terminology can alienate faculty leaders, and shared governance and the tenure system can significantly impede implementation of corporate world approaches. And while leadership development programs created specifically for higher education professionals do exist, the number of new-in-position academic leaders each year far exceeds the number of seats available in these national programs annually. Off-campus programs also miss the institution-specific context so often critical for leaders to fully understand how particular issues manifest themselves on campus.

Thus, a growing number of colleges and universities are developing in-house programs, resources, and tools to grow, support, and advance academic leaders.  Focusing on academic leaders at all levels, this report profiles institution-based strategies for achieving cost-effective excellence in leadership development.

  • Leadership Development Resource Center

    View our collection of leadership development materials, compiled during more than 100 research interviews with academic leaders, association heads, and directors of on-campus and external programs. Access now.

Top Lessons from the Study