Strengthening HBCU Colleges of Education for the Current Climate: Hearing Multiple Perspectives for Change

Strengthening HBCU Colleges of Education for the Current Climate: Hearing Multiple Perspectives for Change

Kimberly Lenease King Jupiter (Tennessee State University, USA), Alethea Fletcher Hampton (Tennessee State University, USA), Thurman E. Webb (Tennessee State University, USA) and Darreon Greer (Tennessee State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0311-8.ch013
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Abstract

Central to any institution of higher education is its ability to successfully recruit and graduate students. The low graduation rates at many HBCUs is perplexing given their historical legacy. To address this woe, these authors suggest that HBCUs now face the conundrum of making themselves relevant for this generation of collegiate students. Adopting a participatory action research design (Marshall & Rossman, 2006), the authors detail their experiences to suggest strategies that will strengthen the overall college. In this chapter, the authors discuss 1) improving faculty productivity; 2) creating an environment that supports faculty success; 3) leveraging national and state accreditation expectations to improve overall program quality; and, 4) moving from an advising to mentoring model. These topics are discussed from the theoretical perspective of a change model.
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Theoretical Framework

Recognizing the need for transformation, these authors utilize Kurt Lewin’s organizational change model as a framework to approach the process of transformation currently underway. In 1951, Kurt Lewin proposed that organizations exist in a state of equilibrium until driving forces propel the institution to a new stasis. Furthermore, an institution will continue in the current state until an occurrence necessitates change. In the collegiate arena, this necessity for change can be a lack of productivity, changing accreditation regulations, governmental oversight discretions, decreases in student retention, or a myriad of other potential organization conflicts. In his force field model, for change to occur, the organization must unfreeze; there must be a recognition and awareness of the need to change and a willingness to see that change come to fruition. The last stage involves a transition from an existing state to a future state. This can only be done with support and reinforcement from change agents and delegated peers (Lewin, 1997; Wiseman, 1979).

Figure 1.

Diagram of Kurt Lewin’s unfreeze, change, and refreeze organizational change model

In order to bring about radical and sustainable shifts in the organization, Kotter (1996) describes eight steps that leaders should adopt. Leaders must establish a sense of urgency, create a guiding coalition, develop a vision and strategy, communicate the change vision, empower broad-based action, generate short-term wins, consolidate gains, and anchor new approaches in the culture. Concurrently, Fullan (2008) outlined six secrets of change that leaders should adopt. According to Fullan, leaders must: love their employees, connect peers with purpose, build capacity within employees, help employees learn, provide transparency, and understand the system. In both Kotter and Fullan’s strategies, change is only actualized when the leader develops collaborative leadership models and garners support for the change. Conceptual models for change are essential to understand how to transform thick, rich cultures that are resistant to change, particularly when the agents of change would be considered ‘outsiders’.

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