Faculty as Leaders in the 21st Century University

Faculty as Leaders in the 21st Century University

Sharmila Pixy Ferris (William Paterson University, USA) and Maureen C. Minielli (City University of New York, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7438-5.ch015
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Increased participation in institutional leadership is one of the most important changes demanded of contemporary faculty. This chapter summarizes findings based on interviews of eight current academic leaders. Interviews employed a qualitative ethnographic approach, strengthened by Flanagan's classic critical incident technique with purposive convenience sampling. Leadership narratives from lived experiences of interviewees illuminate issues, problems, perspectives, and opinions about contemporary academe, including changes in higher education and with today's college students. This chapter discusses administrative leadership tools and provides insider insights about idealistic expectations for administrative leadership styles versus realistic actualizations. This chapter further discusses useful skills in four areas: communication, collaboration, organization, and work-life balance. The rich data from the interviewees provide rare perspectives of how contemporary faculty-turned-leaders can view and influence leadership responses to the changing face of higher education in the United States.
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Since the establishment of America’s first formal institution of higher education in 1636 (Morrison, 1935), U.S. institutions have continuously evolved. That is, as higher education grows and changes, new leadership perspectives and skills are needed. This section briefly reviews American higher education and the changes faculty members experience as they move into administrative leadership positions. This section also discusses the study’s methodology and describes participants whose views and opinions provide advice for faculty-turned-leaders in the early 21st century.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: In this chapter, leadership is defined as positional—as a characteristic of someone who holds an office or position in higher education that involves directing the work of other educators. The position includes (but is not limited to) department chairs, associate deans, deans, provosts, vice-presidents, and presidents.

Critical Incident Technique: A qualitative research technique that allows researchers to get direct observations of human behavior. In the chapter, the term is used to describe a means of gathering data by asking interviewees to tell a story about a critical leadership experience.

Higher Education: While higher education, or post-secondary education, is often understood to mean education received through colleges and universities, it can encompass other educational institutions such as vocational and professional schools.

Best Practices: Practices or procedures that are generally understood to be effective or most correct.

Qualitative Interview: An ethnographic interview research technique that allows for in-depth data collection by obtaining interviewees’ experiences and opinions in their own words. In this chapter, the term specifically refers to structured interviews about leadership through lived experiences.

Work-Life Balance: The art and skill of balancing commitments to work and personal commitments, including family, social, and mental-health. While the flexibility of academic life can facilitate achieving work-life balance, it is an important issue for higher education leaders whose schedule constraints are demanding.

Changing Role of Faculty: Traditionally faculty members in higher education have three roles: teaching; research; and service. In the 21st century university, a range of social, political, economic, and technological factors impact the academe in complex and intertwined ways, demanding ever-increasing responsibilities of faculty and changes in their traditional roles.

Lived Experience: Lived experience is defined by Given (2008) as representation and understanding of a research participants’ experiences, choices, options, and how these factors influence one’s perception of knowledge.

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