Leadership is part of my scholarly interest (Chen, 2009 & 2011) grounded in administrative practice, including a major responsibility in faculty development at different institutions. Based on my own experience as a faculty member spanning more than two decades, I cannot overstate its importance since I was blessed with various kinds of support as I grew professionally along the way. My time at IU was a culminating experience, where I not only oversaw/created such faculty support arms as the Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE) and the Academy for Leadership and Diversity (ALD) but also personally benefited from various training series including a yearlong program (and yearly alumni sessions) focused on the challenges and rigor of becoming a qualified institutional leader.
Academic leadership in the broad sense includes teaching, research, and service in terms of exercising positive influence in the accomplishment of these common but essential tasks. The good news is that I’ve found our CTLT/Pforzheimer Center for Faculty Development, in collaboration with our Library and ITS, has done a remarkable job in helping faculty to develop leadership in teaching and learning by keeping abreast with cutting-edge instructional technology (which will be further enhanced with improved administrative guidance and support Universitywide — stay tuned). Student learning is of paramount importance and I’m always heartened by a collective commitment to excellence in teaching (and mentoring), particularly Pace’s dedication to creating thinking professionals who are highly sought after as innovators and successful leaders, and who will positively impact twenty-first century society. This in turn will require excellence in scholarship (especially in keeping with Pace’s reputation as a doctoral research university). As emphasized by the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge, research is a key ingredient in the institutional identity of universities and an indispensable prerequisite for a successful program of teaching and public service. On the other hand, shared governance requires faculty leadership in service and active participation in academic decision making. Therefore, these are also important fronts for faculty development while the University has indicated a strong commitment in its recent Middle States follow-up report.
It’s within such a context that I proposed to build an institute for academic leadership development at Pace. The underlying premise is that the proposed institute will not replace but help to enhance, connect/integrate, and expand leadership development efforts at different levels within various divisions throughout the University. Thus, the tasks are two-fold: to build or formalize a decentralized leadership development network, and to create a central base and coordinating mechanism with major program initiatives to address major gaps or unmet needs. Also, the proposed institute needs to self-sustain at least a portion of its programs after a start-up period via community offering and national marketing. Therefore, an Institute & Network for Academic and Professional Leadership may be the appropriate name. What should/could actually be done, however, will not only depend on necessary resources but also wide input/support. I’m glad an interest/advisory group met on Friday and we’ll recruit more faculty in future planning meetings, with the anticipation of various expressed needs (demands) for action to guide the agenda setting. Notwithstanding all the issues that need to be sorted out, it’s clear that communication must be improved and enhanced throughout the University so that all will see the big picture to avoid duplicating or diluting each other’s efforts. This will be my top priority for the next few months, and I’ll keep you updated as major progresses are made.