A Brief History
In January 1998, under the auspices of the Institute for Change in Higher Education at Syracuse University and the leadership of its director Robert M. Diamond, a National Advisory Committee was established to explore the feasibility of establishing The National Academy for Academic Leadership. The National Academy would focus on preparing those in key university and college leadership roles with the skills and knowledge required to facilitate significant and lasting improvements in the quality and effectiveness of academic programs.
Serving on the initial National Advisory Committee were:
- James Appleberry, President, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
- Nora Kizer Bell, President, Wesleyan College
- Paula Brownlee, President, Association of American Colleges and Universities
- Lion Gardiner, Associate Professor of Zoology, Rutgers University
- William Laidlaw, Executive Vice President, AACSB - The International Association for Management Education
- Thomas Longin, Vice President for Programs and Research, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
- Margaret Miller, President, American Association for Higher Education
- Frank Newman, President, Education Commission of the States
- Judith Ramaley, President, University of Vermont
- Kenneth Shaw, Chancellor, Syracuse University
- Allen Splete, President, Council of Independent Colleges
Louis Albert, Vice President, American Association for Higher Education, and Joyce Scott, former Vice President, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, also participated in these meetings.
As the proposal for The National Academy evolved over the next several months, a number of key concepts emerged. Planners suggested that it was important to
- follow an integrated approach to change, including leaders at all levels and within all areas of responsibility (legislators, regents, trustees, presidents, vice presidents, deans, chairs, and key faculty members);
- build on and not replicate programs already in existence;
- work closely with a wide variety of national associations and help them to provide enhanced support to their members.
Planners agreed that
- the programs of The National Academy must be based on research and on best practices;
- each program must state its goals in outcome terms so its success might be measured and continuous improvements made;
- although separate programs should be developed for specific audiences (for example, academic deans and department chairs, presidents and board committee chairs, chief academic and financial officers), the emphasis would be on working with institutional teams.
Projects and Programs
The initial program of the Academy was the "Leading Institutional Change" workshop offered in January 2000. With the support of the Kellogg and Knight Foundations, participants included teams from a board of regents, research universities, liberal arts colleges, a professional school, a community college, and a military institution.
The program itself had a number of somewhat unusual characteristics that not only contributed to its success but were to become a major trademark of many of the activities that were to follow. These characteristics included:
- Projects were selected by each institution based on its specific needs and priorities. These ranged from the restructuring of an institution’s undergraduate program and the redefining of an institutional mission, to redesigning a faculty reward system, becoming a more learning-centered institution and building a more supportive relationship with the professional areas served by a specific support program.
- Conversations were held with each team leader prior to the workshop to discuss team membership focusing on identifying those individuals who were most important to the success of the project. As a result of these conversations many of the teams included institutional trustees, state board members, key administrators, and faculty members. This mix significantly improved the conversations that were to take place, the quality of the action plans that were developed, and their chance of successful implementation.
- Each team was assigned meeting space that was available to it throughout the workshop.
- There was an emphasis on small group activities with participation divided, when appropriate by team, by position or in random groupings.
- Data collection was a continual process, enabling the Academy staff to make immediate program modifications when needed. A full assessment of the program and its impact was also conducted six months after the formal program was completed.
- Instructional staff were available to work with teams throughout the workshop, this option was heavily used by a number of teams, with several requesting follow-up assistance on their campus in the months that followed.
- A complete library of reference materials was available throughout the workshop. In addition, participants received extensive handouts that included instructional outcome statements for each component of the program and other related materials.
Other programs and projects
- The Field Guide for Academic Leadership. The contents of this 526 page volume, published by Jossey-Bass in 2002 grew directly out of the January 2000 workshop and the work of those involved in designing the Academy. The Guide has been purchased by institutions for use by administrators, faculty and staff and has been adapted as a major test by a number of graduate leadership programs.
- The have been numerous publications by the leadership team of the Academy. A number of these will be found in the Resources section of this Website.
- The leadership team has made numerous presentations on campuses and at national meeting.
- The Academy is presently involved in a number of projects and proposals addressing the problems now facing higher education and the knowledge and skills needed by those in leadership positions.
- The Academy has provided assistance to institutions and agencies in the United States and overseas.