21st century leadership practices needed for higher education

21st century leadership practices needed for higher education

John Paul Eddy

Advanced and improved leadership practices for higher education are needed in the 21st Century if universities and colleges are to raise standards, status, and improve the overall campus environment. This article discusses areas in which new leadership practices will be necessary, gives selected examples of current malpractice, and offers recommendations for improvement.

Introduction The effectiveness and efficiency of the university and college campus is an emerging crisis – a crisis directly related to failed practices in certain areas of leadership. The challenge for academe, more specifically leaders in academe, is to initiate and follow new leadership practices that directly confront unethical, failed and out-of-date methods of campus governance. The purpose of this article is to highlight several areas in which enhanced or new leadership practices are necessary, provide selected examples of egregious incidents of executive wrong-doing, and offer recommended leadership practices for the campus of the 21 st Century. Ethical Leadership

The New Era Scam (Eddy and Brubacher, 1996) whereby scores of graduate schools, universities, and colleges were fooled by the investment “Polizing Scheme”, is but one example of how higher education leaders and officials (Boards of Regents and Trustees, Presidents, Legal Counsels, Vice Presidents, Business Advisors, etc.) need to commit to a higher level of ethics. This tragedy, the worst financial scam ever in higher education finance, occurred in 1995 when it was discovered that the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy pulled off a Charles Ponzi type financial swindle wherein millions of dollars were lost by scores of seminaries, universities, and colleges. Reflectively, Ponzi’s scheme was based on the long chanced theme of huge profits in return for large investments. In repeated articles, higher education journals and periodicals, including the Chronicle of Education, relate accounts of “get rich quick” schemes initiated and approved by leaders of academic institutions. Truly, there seems to be an ethical crisis within our campus leaders.

Academic leaders of the 21st Century must re-cast their leadership practice to include the following essential aspects of the ethical dimension:

(1) Leaders set the tone for the ethical climate of their organizations (Kouzes & Posner, 1995). Members of Boards of Regents and Trustees, presidents, vice presidents, deans, and others comprising the academic leadership of the institution must, by deeds, speech, and action, portray their commitment to high ethical standards.

(2) A clearly understandable and set of ethical standards that can be adhered to must be devised and articulated by the campus leadership (Eddy, 1993). An unreachable or idealistic ethical code will be breached in day-to-day or routine business – thus, diluting the components that can be lived up to. (3) Ethics violations within the leadership hierarchy should be dealt with swiftly, authoritatively, and affirmatively. The results of inquiries and investigations into ethical lapses should be widely publicized

Team Leadership

Leadership unitage, that is, the quantity of leadership within a particular unit of leadership, is significantly improved when all leaders in the institution are empowered to lead their respective unit – teamwork increases productivity (Spaulding & Eddy, 1996). A shift in organizational leadership is underway according to many experts writing on the subject. Charles Handy has indicated that this evolving leadership should be termed “language of politics” – a process of leadership that includes the concepts of “adhocracy, of federalism, of alliances, teams, empowerment, and room for initiative.” He identifies the key words as “options not plans, the possible rather than the perfect; and involvement instead of obedience.” According to Handy, the title “manager” is being replaced with titles such as lead partner, team leader, facilitator, and project manager (Hesselbein, Goldsmith, & Beckhard, 1996). Critical actions that can be undertaken to improve the institutional climate wherein team leadership can thrive are: (1) Just as the Boards of Regents and Trustees work as a team so should the academe leadership operating entities. No matter what they are called, problems, challenges, opportunities, or issues, organizational activity requiring leader attention should be pursued via a collaborative or shared effort. (2) Often, those with new ideas are not considered team players. In the future, team leadership must accommodate the innovative, create, and forward-thinking from team members. Internal procedure must allow for exchanges of creative ideas – sharing a particular new way or another new idea (Spaulding & Eddy, 1996).

(3) Reward joint effort as often as indi

vidual effort is recognized. (4) Instill teamwork through team building and training.

Accountability Leadership One of the significant new initiatives to impact higher education is the “accountability movement.” Legislators, parents, students, government, accrediting bodies, industry, business are all demanding that universities and colleges produce a competent graduate. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is issuing a degree warranty for selectedtechnical school degrees. Moreover, this Board has established a similar warranty for certain nontechnical and professions degrees awarded by state colleges and universities (Magnuson, 1996). (1) Exercise visionary and “out-front” leadership in resolving academe’s responsibility in arriving at and establishing standards for graduation, guaranteed or warranted degrees, and re-schooling or refresher education for graduates not deemed fully prepared by industry or professions.

Privatization Leadership The privatization of higher education must be investigated carefully to see if certain services, activities, research and learning can be privatized or “out-sourced.” The balance between better services and lower cost must be thoroughly examined in the framework of the mission, scope, and role of the university or college. According to the research of Eddy & Spaulding (1996) some campuses have been successful in their efforts to privatize campus food service and parking while not being successful in other areas of campus activities.

(1) Privatization demands results in change in the organizational structure. The new paradigm of institution leadership calls for a special ability to wrench out of the traditional bureaucracy an attitude that accepts and thrives on change (Senge, 1996).

(2) Just as public schools are seeking new ways to join with the private sector to fulfill their education mission (Eddy & Spaulding, 1996) so must higher education leaders explore creative paths toward including the private sector in operating the university.

Global Thinking Leadership The Untied States of America leads the world in the number of other nation or international students studying in U.S. institutions of higher education. Currently, over 400,000 students from outside the U.S. are enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. These students, many pursuing graduate degrees, return to their country to become influential leaders. Such leaders often take a leading role in policy-making and operational matters affecting world peace, war, and terrorism (Eddy, J.P.1995). Leadership in this environment requires academic leadership that (1) Understands and projects the global implications of the role of education on the grave matters of peace, war, and the economy (Spaulding & Eddy, 1996). (2) Academic leaders must develop grant contacts in the home countries of international students so as to assist in the retention and graduation of these students (Eddy, McLeod, & Nichols, 1995). Just as business leaders are required to integrate into the economies of other countries so should academic leaders learn to cope with grant challenges in the high student sending countries of China, Russia, Japan, Iran, Germany and others. Volunteer Leadership As the age demographics of America change toward an ever increasing older population, many of these citizens are volunteering to assist community institutions. In 1995-1996, the senior author became aware of faculty who were rejected when volunteering services at some colleges while at others these volunteers were warmly received and the best use made of their talents. In 1996 however, this author volunteered to assist several Filipino universities and colleges with the development of their electronic technology and distance education approaches to link over 400 institutions of higher education world-wide. Volunteers will offset the financial retrenchment underway in many higher education institutions. The progressive academic leader of the future must: (1) Envision the role of and integrate volunteers into the academic institution (Beckhard, 1996).

(2) Develop unique motivational and reward systems to keep volunteers on the job and productive. Distance Education Leadership Education is rapidly expanding beyond the physical boundaries of the university and college. The challenges posed by technology assisted education are, as noted by Eddy, Burnett, and Spaulding (1996), (a) balancing the personal contact of classroom professors and the impersonal contact of technology, (b) limitations, such as library access and student services, of not being on-campus, and (c) the benefits of group learning over individual learning. The academic leader in the time that is to come should possess the following leadership skills with regard to distance education:

(1) An appreciation and understanding of the relationship between education, technology, time, distance, location (Eddy & Spaulding, 1996) is essential. Moreover, the goals of education must blend with the technology so as to be the medium rather than the message. Distance education will be commonplace in the future. Just as the home is fast becoming a workplace so might home learning become the central place of learning.

(2) The interaction of communications technology and knowledge dissemination is a rapidly advancing field. Academic executives must rapidly learn to control and harness this process (Mandl & Seti, 1996).

Multicultural Leadership Leadership in today’s society demands recognition of the diversity and difference present in our culture. The effective academic leader of the future must negotiate the multicultural environment by fully recognizing diversity and difference while exercising leadership that unites all toward a common goal. This process of future leadership must include the following: (1) Successful reformation and change of education can only take place when academic leaders are able to unite disparate and diverse individuals and groups. Envisioning the possible contributions of all persons, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other measure of difference and diversity, will be a significant challenge to future leaders (Kouzes & Posner, 1995).

(2) Creative means of communicating the accomplishments of diverse and different individuals within our global society must be developed to portray the importance of multicultualism. In a Texas university, the author or and associates developed a “Gallery of Great Educators” as a permanent visual exhibit, within the education environment, wherein diversity, difference, and internationalism may be studied, understood, and appreciated (Eddy, Cooper, & Spaulding, 1996). A mobile “Multicultural Pictorial Gallery,” also established by Eddy and associates, depicts significant contributions of minority women in business, science, and education. Conclusions Leadership in American higher education needs to take new directions. Higher education leaders, administrators, and faculty must be more progressive, innovative, and creative to manage the reformation and change that is underway and will occur in the future. This article identifies and makes recommendations critical to the path of future leadership in academe. This new leadership must take new directions in ethics, collaboration, accountability, privatization, international and distance education, volunteerism, and multiculturalism.


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About the Authors

John Paul Eddy is Professor of Counseling, Development and Higher Education at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas and he is a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Donald S. Spalding is former Professor of Military Science and Chair of the Department of Military Science at Eastern New Mexico, Portales, New Mexico. He is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Counseling, Development and Higher Education at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas and a U.S. Army (Ret.) Lieutenant Colonel.

Stanley Douglas Murphy is a licensed professional counselor. Kay V. Chandras is a licensed psychologist.

Copyright Project Innovation Spring 1997

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