Understanding How Location and Setting Affects Higher Education Leadership
The importance of place when it comes to leading a higher education institution.
While working as the president of a college or university is obviously challenging enough, presidents who move to a considerably different location to work face even more difficulties. In an article written by John Marx, professor and chair of the English Department at University of California, Davis, Marx identified the importance of place when it comes to leading a higher education institution. Through interviews with presidents who have moved across geographical, demographic, and other divisions, Marx explored the challenges of leading a college or university.
According to University of Minnesota, Morris Chancellor Michelle Behr,
“Because colleges and universities are both mostly the same and simultaneously unique products of place, a leader arrives with certain tools and experiences that form her general approach to leadership. At the same time, like an anthropologist, it is crucial to develop local cultural expertise.”
How and whether academic leaders should embrace the role of anthropologist was one of the major topics of this year’s ACE Fellows Program. According to program participants, many have found that leadership success means branching out. To illustrate that point, Kenya Ayers, president of Tarrant County College’s Northeast Campus, explains,
“My career has taken me to Michigan (my home state) twice, to Florida, to Texas (twice, though I believe this third time will be the charm), to DC, and to Illinois. Each setting has offered something entirely different in terms of state versus local autonomy, unionized vs. non-unionized environments, educational philosophies, private versus. public settings, four-year versus community college settings.”
While Marx interviewed many academic leaders who moved to serve different institutions, some common themes emerged. For instance, many identified the importance of specificity. While two institutions may be operating in the same geographical region and serve demographically similar communities, each institution’s specific history and tenants shape its campus atmosphere. Essentially, every university has its own culture that creates a unique experience for campus leaders.
This is how professor John Marx identified the importance of place when it comes to leading a higher education institution. Looking for a consulting firm with experience working with salary, legal, and other human resources issues? Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc. We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.