IV. In Conclusion – Topics for Further Discussions

In Conclusion – Topics for Further Discussion

Dr. Ed Ray

Readers are encouraged, after reviewing the chapter overview and essays for a given chapter, to engage in further discussions of the questions provided below for that chapter. As noted earlier, leading a department, college, program, division, or university is not a spectator sport. College and University leaders cannot predict future challenges and opportunities, but they can do their best to anticipate matters of consequence going forward and to avoid startling themselves by failing to do so. To that end, leaders should constantly ask themselves and their leadership teams “what if” questions. The objective is to establish a foundation for responding quickly and effectively to new circumstances as they emerge and to seize initiatives.

The questions below include most of those provided in the chapter overviews. Our essayists have provided excellent answers to many of those questions, and readers are urged to re-read essays if they are still uncertain how to answer the chapter-based questions listed below. In addition to the chapter overview questions, the essays contained in this volume raise a number of important questions and prompt readers to ask others, which are included here. Hopefully, the discussions stimulated among leaders, teachers, and students will help them establish the foundation they need to navigate and lead going forward.

Chapter 1: Learning the Culture and Setting Expectations

  1. How does a new president or chancellor get colleagues throughout the institution to work with each other and the president/chancellor, given the existing institutional culture and the many subcultures within the institution?
  2. How does a new leader make the judgment about the need for change and the pace of change in the institution?
  3. How can one change the culture of an institution and how is the appropriate pace of change determined?
  4. How does a leader who is new to an institution determine which voices to listen to?
  5. How does one determine if he/she is a good fit for a specific leadership role or not?
  6. What is adaptive leadership and how does one become an adaptive leader?
  7. How does a new leader convey he/she understands the culture of the institution?
  8. How does a new leader determine which policies and practices should be left alone and which ones need to be changes?
  9. How does a new leader, who recognizes the need for institutional change, work productively with an institutional culture and/or sub-cultures that are resistant to change?
  10. How can a new leader take advantage of NASH programs regarding “systemness” or create an analogous structure within an institution?
  11. How can a new leader advance the implementation of an existing/new strategic plan?
  12. Each institution has an authentic culture. How does a new leader identify what is authentic and bridge rather than break the path forward for the institution?

Chapter 2: Selecting and Assessing the Leadership Team

  1. What is best practice for making staff changes?
  2. How does one create a great leadership team?
  3. How can a leader hold himself/herself accountable for effective performance?
  4. How can a leader help team members improve their job performance?
  5. Who should be direct reports to the president?
  6. How does a new president determine the leadership structure in an institution and the span of authority of each member of the leadership team?
  7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an Insider President? Outsider President?
  8. Why shouldn’t a new president ask for everyone on the leadership team to resign on Day One?
  9. Should a new president bring leaders or staff from their last institution into the new college/university?
  10. How can new leaders encourage effective communications up to boards, laterally to peers, and down to colleagues, especially bad news?
    How should a new president access and mentor leadership team members?
  11. How should a new president select new members of the leadership team and evaluate continuing members of the team? Does it matter if the new leader comes from outside or inside the institution?
  12. How can a new leader and leadership team most effectively create a strategic plan or revise an existing plan?
  13. How does a new leader develop a leadership agenda aligned with the strategic plan?
  14. Why should the leadership agenda include both internal and external goals?
  15. What are some key characteristics of an annual review process for each member of the leadership team?
  16. What are the characteristics of effective leadership team members?
  17. How can a leader encourage candor and collaboration among leadership team members?

Chapter 3: Budget Policy and Long-term Planning

  1. How can budgets be aligned with academic program demand and supply as well as institutional goals and aspirations while avoiding unintended negative consequences?
  2. How can institutions generate alternative sources of funding and manage operating costs more effectively?
  3. How can budget rules be designed to align incentives across academic and support units that are consistent with institutional strategic plans?
  4. How does “budgeting strategically” work?
  5. What are key characteristics of successful transitions from traditional to distributed budget models?
  6. How does budgeting strategically accommodate interdisciplinary courses and research, prevent course poaching and fund shared assets such as libraries?
  7. What factors determine the appropriate period of transition from traditional to strategic budgeting?
  8. What is the role of long-term planning in the budget process?
  9. How often should the budget model be reviewed and why?
  10. Why should new leaders at every level of an institution have some understanding of budget allocations and processes as well as institutional data?
  11. How can institutional leaders verify that incentives embedded in the budget allocation process are consistent with institutional goals?
  12. Why is it important for leaders at every level of the institution to maintain strategic reserves of one-time money?
  13. How can leaders deal with a “scarcity mindset”?

Chapter 4: Responding to Authority: Delegating and Establishing Accountability

  1. How can communications between the board(s) and the president/chancellor be kept clear and timely? How are differences resolved?
  2. How can a board delegate but verify internal effectiveness by the president/chancellor?
  3. How can the campus leader reduce duplication of effort among members of the leadership team?
  4. Given the external roles of both the board and campus leadership, how can they support each other’s efforts?
  5. How can a leader confirm the accountability of each team member with delegated authority for outcomes that meet expectations?
  6. Why should senior leadership in an institution be expected to report contacts and communications with board members to the president/chancellor?
  7. How can a president/chancellor operationalize a partnership with the board in which the campus leader manages and the board governs?
  8. Why is it critical for the president/chancellor to share information, especially bad news, quickly with board members?
  9. What are some of the ways that board members and boards can enhance the president’s/chancellor’s effectiveness as a leader?
  10. What are the three “ask for forgiveness” rules?
  11. How can a president/chancellor build a firewall to offset contention with board members?
  12. What do you think of Dr. Young’s advice to never take a job you cannot quit?
  13. Why should a president take responsibility for mistakes or failures by members of her/his leadership team?

Chapter 5: Access, Affordability, and Student Success

  1. Are there additional and, perhaps, more appropriate measures of student success than first-year retention rates and four-year or six-year graduation rates?
  2. What does an effective enrollment management plan look like?
  3. How do we create a more positive, diverse, inclusive, and socially just campus culture?
  4. What are best practices for raising graduation rates, closing achievement gaps, and improving other measures of student success?
  5. How does an institution develop and implement an enrollment management plan that is effective and responsive to societal needs?
  6. What are the causes of the “demographic cliff” facing higher education?
  7. How can low-income students be made more aware of limits on federal loans they obtain?
  8. What can institutions do to provide students with information about campus groups they can join to feel part of a community?
  9. Can more be done to provide students with employment opportunities on campus and should freshmen be required to live on campus?
  10. What are some high-impact practices, HIPs, that can help students persist through to graduation?
  11. Can HIPs be incorporated into courses at every level of instruction?
  12. Should career counseling begin in the freshman year?
  13. What is the University Innovation Alliance and how does it work?
  14. What is meant by the student-centered redesign of higher education?
  15. To what extent should colleges/universities offer students certificates and badges along with traditional degrees?
  16. How can process mapping help institutions redesign administrative processes that students have to navigate to be successful?

Chapter 6: The Learning Process

  1. How can we provide new and continuing faculty with the pedagogical tools they need to be effective teachers today and in the future?
  2. How can institutions most effectively support the teaching and research activities of fixed-term, unionized, and tenure-track faculty, who are often working together?
  3. Under what circumstances are traditional, hybrid, and strictly online courses and student service offerings most effective for successful student learning?
  4. How will we most effectively teach, do creative work, conduct research, and collaborate within and across institutions in a post-COVID world?
  5. How can a college/university begin to provide resident students and others with quality online learning opportunities?
  6. Are online teaching skill requirements the same as in-person skills and, if not how are they best acquired?
  7. Are students of particular age groups or other student characteristics more likely to benefit from online education?
  8. How can a college/university reach out-of-state and out-of-country students with online programs?
  9. How can faculty incorporate technology into teaching and class management?
  10. How do faculty craft and practice pedagogies that reach a student population that is increasingly diverse in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, gender identity and educational background?
  11. How do faculty provide deliberate engagement of undergraduate students in research and graduate students in the skills required to be a great teacher?
  12. How can faculty engage more effectively in advising, which includes awareness of student mental health challenges, as well as in the creation of support systems and pathways to success?
  13. What are the three basic skills of excellent teachers and can they be scaled?
  14. What does it entail for faculty to commit to the “whole student”?
  15. What does it mean for faculty to have an agility mindset and how can an institution foster that?
  16. What support systems and financial incentives could institutions provide to enable faculty to become excellent teachers and scale that process across the institution?

Chapter 7: Research and Service

  1. What strategies can Research I public and private institutions employ to increase and diversify their research funding and still serve the needs of society?
  2. How can colleges and universities more broadly support all of the creative activity in their institutions and bring discoveries and creative endeavors into the classroom?
  3. How have universities shifted away from the simple focus on basic versus applied research of earlier decades and why?
  4. How much at risk is the traditional notion in public universities that research findings are free to the public and why?
  5. How difficult is it for graduate students to include research findings in their master’s or doctoral thesis?
  6. How can contemporary research officers be best positioned for success?
  7. How can a chief research officer work research messages into presidential remarks and provost speeches and why is that important?
  8. How does an institution build a positive culture for research?
  9. There are several lists of national and global research challenges. How does an institution assess which, if any, of those challenges it can or should address?
  10. How can an institution initiate and sustain interdisciplinary centers/institutes to address global research challenges?
  11. How can interdisciplinary centers/institutes connect to the curriculum and traditional disciplines?
  12. What are the major federal sponsors of research funding and how important is federal funding to university research?
  13. Why isn’t there more private business funding in academic research?
  14. What are the advantages of using off-the-shelf commercial data resources for tracking research?
  15. How can innovation and entrepreneurship be integrated into the tenure and promotion system?
  16. What are some examples of actions that offices of research can take to foster the development of transdisciplinary teams?

Chapter 8: Creating a Safe Community

  1. How do colleges and universities respond to demands to punish sexual assault offenders, protect the rights of the accused and support victims in a timely way?
  2. Should campuses rely on local police for protection or have their own public safety programs?
  3. Beyond litigation that may succeed or fail, what can institutions do to better serve the needs of victims?
  4. What are the most effective programs in academic institutions to address drug abuse and mental health problems among faculty, staff, and students?
  5. What are the best practices for a college/university that is serious about providing work-life balance for faculty, staff, and students?
  6. What is the most effective way to provide a safe working, living, and learning environment for the campus community?
  7. Should campus police carry guns?
  8. Are there effective training programs for campus public safety officers?
  9. When there is an incident on campus, why is it important for leaders to “show up” authentically and not on anyone’s side?
  10. Why is it important to recognize campus safety as a multidimensional construct?
  11. What actions are campus leaders required to take in response to the Clery Act and Title IX?
  12. What does it mean to take the educational approach as a leader in handling incidents of inappropriate language or behavior on campus?
  13. What would you include as key elements of a safe campus in the broadest sense?
  14. How do we understand the current challenges facing our students?
  15. What campus resources do we have to help students address their challenges?
  16. What can we do to strengthen our communities to meet the needs of students?
  17. Young people, in particular, continue the process of self-formation in higher education. How can colleges and universities help students to develop and recognize their authentic selves?
  18. How can we more deeply connect the activities that support the work of formation with our programs that support mental health?
  19. How are we engaging new research from across the academy to shape a commitment to mental health?
  20. What are some recent campus programs focused on student mental health and wellness?
  21. How can campuses defy the 40-40-33 law?
  22. What are institutional betrayal and institutional courage?
  23. What are steps leaders can take to create and sustain institutional courage?
  24. Why should institutions focus on mandatory support rather than mandatory reporting in cases of sexual assault?

Chapter 9: Fundraising from Soup to Nuts

  1. What are the characteristics of successful stewardship programs for current and potential donors?
  2. What are best practices for an institution-wide fundraising campaign?
  3. How does one develop a feasibility study for a fundraising campaign?
  4. How are program and institutional goals set for a fundraising campaign?
  5. How does an institution create a compelling narrative for a fundraising campaign to garner donor support?
  6. What happens to fundraising when the campaign is over?
  7. How aligned are the fundraising and strategic planning goals of the college/university?
  8. How does donor stewardship contribute to long-term fundraising success?
  9. What is the 80-20 or 90-10 rule and why is it relevant to fundraising strategy?
  10. Who should development officers report to in the institution and why? How are they evaluated?
  11. Why is it important for the institutional leader to be disciplined in the fundraising effort?
  12. Why is it helpful to think of fundraising goals as a “to-do list”?
  13. To what extent are deans and chairs held accountable for fundraising success?
  14. Who determines which leader(S) and development officer(s) work with a particular major donor?
  15. What are some examples of how volunteers and potential donors can be meaningfully engaged in the institution?
  16. How can the alumni association enhance the friend-raising-fundraising relationship?
  17. How engaged should the president/chancellor be with the foundation or fundraising advisory board?
  18. What is the best approach to setting a fundraising campaign goal?
  19. What are the long-term benefits of a fundraising campaign?

Chapter 10: Big-Time College Athletics

  1. What are the best practices for aligning operations within athletics with institutional values and practices and goals for student success?
  2. How does the current model for funding Division I athletics programs work and how should it change?
  3. How should transfer portals and name-image-likeness funding be regulated, if at all?
  4. How engaged should the president/chancellor be in the operations of the athletics program?
  5. What is the proper role of the board in athletics?
  6. What is the appropriate reporting line for the athletics director?
  7. Should athletes be paid employees of the university?
    How can a president/chancellor learn about Big-time athletics and stay informed?
  8. Are media contracts realigning conferences and eliminating historical rivalry games in college football and basketball and is that okay?
  9. What are Alston benefits and how are they changing the financing of college athletics?
  10. What, if anything, can the NCAA do to maintain competitive equity in collegiate athletics?
  11. Should a football student-athlete be able to start his own a lawn care business utilizing his name, image, and likeness?
  12. The NCAA prided itself on its three-in-one philosophy of Division I, II, and III all in one organization with one set of rules. How is this structure changing and what are the good and bad aspects of those changes?
  13. The NCAA rulebook has decreased from 43 to 18.5 pages, mostly to reduce the risk of future litigation. Is this change likely to affect competitive equity in collegiate sports and, if so, who benefits and who loses?

Chapter 11: Internal and External Communications and Accountability in a Crisis

  1. How does a leader operationalize a policy of no surprises with an institutional board and/or a system board?
  2. What do effective communications between boards and campus leaders look like in the context of a crisis?
  3. How are responsibilities assigned and performance monitored within the college/university to address a crisis?
  4. How can alignment be established and maintained in the face of a crisis with regard to strategic planning and the deployment of resources to implement planned actions?
  5. How does the institution communicate effectively with its many internal and external constituencies, given the existence of continuous review and comment by internal and external constituents?
  6. How does one foster alignment among board, faculty, staff, unions, and students and how do these relationships change in a crisis?
  7. In a multi-media environment, what is best practice for effective communications with external constituents and do communication requirements change in the face of a crisis?
  8. How can campus leaders maintain an objective assessment of race relations, safety, and sense of belonging on their own campuses?
  9. When there is a campus crisis, how do campus leaders know what communications will be most helpful and how should messages be communicated for the greatest effect?
  10. Who are the best messengers for different kinds of crises?
  11. How does one balance transparency and swift communications against the need for accurate reporting?
  12. How important is two-way communication with the surrounding community during a crisis and how can it be implemented?
  13. How can college presidents discern public sentiment as a means of determining what is possible in times of crisis and when to weigh in?
  14. How do leaders determine when a crisis warrants comment? What is the process for crafting a narrative and who delivers the message?
  15. How important is trust and a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the president and the board to effective crisis management?
  16. How can a president build trust with internal stakeholders such as faculty, staff, students, and unions?
  17. How can a president build trust and support in advance of a crisis with external stakeholders such as local, state, and federal elected officials, business leaders, local, state, and national media, alumni, and donors?
  18. How does one go about creating crisis management plans and crisis communication plans and stress test them in advance of a crisis?
    How does one create and stress test whole enterprise risk management plans?
  19. How can the facts surrounding a crisis be confirmed and how should they be communicated to stakeholders?

Chapter 12: Passing the Baton

  1. What is the anatomy of a failed leadership in higher education?
  2. What are the circumstances under which an established and even strongly supported leader should step down?
  3. How can a leader prepare the way for his/her successor?
  4. What can leaders do to set the stage for continued institutional progress after they have stepped down?
  5. How do leaders know it is time to go and how can one leave gracefully?
  6. What are the common causes of failed presidencies?
  7. How much notice should a leader give before stepping down?
  8. How should a leader negotiate his/her transition when stepping down?
  9. If a president/chancellor steps down and stays on campus, should she/he keep a low profile?
  10. Should campus leaders face mandatory retirement and, if so, at what age?
  11. Why is it better for a former president to provide advice to a successor only when it is requested by the new president?
  12. All transitions are not created equal. How long should transitions from campus leadership be when they are genuine retirements, moving on to another position, and a failed presidency?
  13. How can an established strategic plan help in implementing a transition to new campus leadership?
  14. How important is the quality and effectiveness of the leadership team in managing the transition to a new president/chancellor?
  15. How can a troubled leader get honest and objective counsel on whether or not it is time to step down?
  16. How does a president/chancellor know he/she needs to move on?
  17. When matters go badly and a president needs to leave, how can he/she help to minimize the damage dealt to all concerned?
  18. What are some warning signs that a presidency may be heading for a bad ending?
  19. What is a “principled North Star” and how can it smooth transitions in leadership?

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A Handbook of Higher Education Leadership Copyright © 2024 by Dr. Ed Ray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.