Increasing Leadership Capacity to Build a Change Model for Higher Ed

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

We need to intentionally develop more leaders at all levels of academic departments and support units, who share a common language and purpose regarding innovation.

Archivist Notes


J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., is the Director of the the Center for Teaching at UNC Charlotte. His work involves fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies. Garvey is also an alumnus of OLC's IELOL program (2010) and has remained an active member of this professional community of practice and served as co-director of IELOL 2018 and as a faculty member of IELOL from 2019 - 2021. He has served on various conference committees for OLC Accelerate and has served on the Steering Committee for OLC Innovate.

Extended Abstract

Peter Drucker famously asserted that "culture eats strategy for breakfast." He explained, "Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got."

Is Drucker right, that we should resign ourselves to our current school culture and work within those confines? The lack of a leaderly culture may be the biggest barrier to innovation in university culture, and we must find a way to challenge and overcome that.

If we are to innovate in higher education, then we need leaders who are innovative, design thinkers, big-picture folks who also know how to drive forward changes, operationally. Vision and big ideas alone are meaningless unless they can actually be carried out. And we cannot expect university faculty to embrace new methods and tools for teaching and learning unless there are leaders distributed throughout the university who have the leadership abilities or competencies to make change actually happen.

How Did We Get Here?

Department chairs--and even associate deans and deans--are often promoted through the ranks or put in leadership positions because of external criteria which have little or nothing to do with actual leadership competencies. Perhaps they have published a lot, or they bring in lots of research dollars, or they are good at recruiting graduate students. While each of these activities do require some form of leadership skill, they do not necessarily translate to the ability to lead a team or group of other people towards larger, strategic goals of the department, college, or university. Nor do these things require any ability to embrace innovation in teaching and learning or, even when innovation is embraced, the ability to diffuse innovation throughout an organization.

It is not enough to have a few, well-placed leaders sprinkled throughout a university. We need to intentionally develop more leaders at all levels of academic departments and support units, who share a common language and purpose regarding innovation, leadership, and new forms of advancing scholarly teaching.

Purpose of This Session & Who Should Attend:

As a "Conversations That Work" session, we want to bring together other leaders who face these same challenges. The format of shared exploration is perfect for this interactive session and topic. We very much need the audience to participate to help solve the dilemmas and to explore the topic we am presenting. We envision two kinds of attendees: (1) those who face these same challenges and likewise need this session to generate concrete ideas to bring back to their home campuses, and (2) those who have already started this kind of work and wish to engage and assist others with their lessons learned.

Guiding Questions:

(1) What are the leadership competencies necessary to lead innovation on campus? [There is plenty of literature on this, but are there between three and five we should concentrate on?]
(2) How do you develop these competencies in people? [What kinds of development programs would work in your school culture? Pros/cons of different formats?]
(3) How do you sustain this program as a long-term effort? [This is not a one-and-done program but an effort that will take years to see widespread success and then be a continual effort afterwards.]
(4) How do you build on successes and get more people involved? [Who are the key stakeholders? Do you have "champions" to target early on?]
(5) How do you measure success? [Short term and long term success will look different.]
(6) How do you communicate success--to which audiences and what formats? [A robust communications plan is needed and will vary by school culture, context, and audiences.]

How Is This Different Than Other Leadership Development Programs on Campuses Already?

Those traditional programs typically focus on management skills for the day-to-day operational efforts of the business of running a department: finance, HR, legal affairs, time management, conflict resolution, accreditation, year-end reports. This is different. This eschews all of those things and instead focuses on innovation and change and how to build capacity on campus to embrace online learning, emerging technologies, evolving practice, new policy and metrics for success.