Friday, September 18, 2015

Welcome, Outsider: Here’s How You Can Foster Faculty Confidence

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 15th, 2015


At a leadership conference almost a decade ago, I met an incoming dean who had no previous academic experience except being a student. He was, in fact, a longtime business professional with a list of impressive "real world" accomplishments. He had been hired, he said, to radically transform a business college at a major research university. I cautioned him that to accomplish anything in higher education, especially a revolution, he would have to work long, hard, sincerely, and creatively to win over most of the faculty (not to mention staff, students, and alumni). Fast forward: After two tumultuous years and several faculty revolts, he was "resigned" by his provost.
The recent major upset at the installment of J. Bruce Harreld, a business leader and consultant, as the new president of the University of Iowa, thus, did not surprise me. I spent four years at Iowa as director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Industry outreach and donor engagement — the donors tending to be successful businesspeople — were and are now among my key duties, so I know that the differences between higher education and corporate America are real; border-crossers tread dangerously.

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