Academic Entrepreneurship: Managing your academic program portfolio in times of disruption

Typing on a laptop

We recently sat down with Dr. Melissa Morriss-Olson, former Provost at Bay Path University, to discuss her recently-released book “Academic Entrepreneurship: The Art and Science of Creating the Right Academic Programs.” The following interview—which contains myriad practical suggestions for academic leaders looking to think creatively to move their divisions and institutions forward—is what materialized.

1. What inspired you to write your new book about academic entrepreneurship?

Academic Entrepreneurship is the guidebook I wish I’d had when I started out in higher education many years ago.  Most academic leaders come to their roles without experience in entrepreneurial leadership.  Nor do most of us have any training in how to strategically manage and leverage our institution’s academic resources.

And yet, helping our institutions do well and thrive in this current environment means that academic leaders need to think and act differently than our predecessors did even a few years ago.

Today, most of our colleges and universities are facing unprecedented levels of disruption—and this was before the coronovirus pandemic took hold!  The pandemic has accelerated the change that was already underway. From the research I have conducted over the course of my career about successful college management practices, one thing emerged time and again as particularly important.  At the end of the day, successful institutions of all kinds and types had competency in developing and actively nurturing an outward looking orientation while also cultivating a discipline around entrepreneurial growth in strategic ways that leveraged and strengthened their mission and their operations.  In brief, the leaders of these institutions possessed an entrepreneurial mindset in addition to being disciplined executors.  You can find many institutions that lean to one of these but not the other.  The really exceptional and successful schools did both.

And that is what Academic Entrepreneurship is all about.  For those who are new to their academic leadership roles, this book will give you a roadmap for how to set the stage for innovation on your campus and how to manage and more effectively leverage your academic program portfolio.  In the first few chapters of the book there are tools that you can use to assess and strengthen your personal entrepreneurial leadership IQ.  The book is a great starting point for deans and provosts and their teams to assess their own personal readiness to innovate and lead change along with practical suggestions for where to begin.

2. What makes this book (and your approach) to academic leadership unique?

There are two things that are pivotal to my own thinking and nearly 40-year career as an academic entrepreneur.  The first has to do with this notion of ‘both art and science’.  Academic leaders who are serious about driving entrepreneurial growth on their respective campuses need to adopt a management approach that balances what I like to call the ‘art’ side of leadership with the ‘science.’  By ‘art’ I mean being very intentional about nurturing a mindset that is open and able to see things in new ways, that is creative and intuitive and willing to consider new solutions to old problems.  By ‘science’ I mean putting in place a rigorous and evidence-based process for identifying, evaluating and operationalizing new academic program ideas.  This gets at what I mentioned earlier about the need to be both entrepreneurial and disciplined at the same time.

I would maintain -- and this is a central theme of the book – that today’s disruptive environment requires that academic leaders practice a ‘yin and yang’ kind of orientation to their work, making sure to balance both the art and the science in their planning and decision making.  This is especially critical when it comes to managing the academic program portfolio.

The second thing that is so critical for academic leaders and their boards of trustees to consider is this: rather than viewing each academic program as a ‘tub on its own bottom,’ leaders need view their program mix just like investment managers think about their financial portfolios.

Individual programs do not exist in isolation within any campus context.  Instead, each program exists within a complex web of inputs and outcomes; every resource decision that you make about an individual program has a bearing on the broader institution, its infrastructure and its resource capacity, not to mention its reputation.

In considering new programs to add to their existing mix, provosts and deans need to consider how the entire academic portfolio will be impacted and what this might mean for the institution as a whole; keeping in mind

that the overall reputation, quality, and financial viability of the institution are determined in large part by the particular mix of programs that you offer.  Wise and savvy academic leaders know this and are very intentional in shaping and managing their program mix to achieve a balance that is ideal for their institution’s mission and culture as well as the financial bottom-line. At the end of the day, you want to achieve a balance that supports and leverages your mission in relevant and distinctive ways while also equipping your institution to be financially sustainable and responsive to student demands and workforce needs now and well into the future.

These two points taken together reflect my own unique approach to academic entrepreneurship and the success we have had in launching more than 40 new programs that, collectively, have contributed more than $300 million in net incremental tuition revenue at Bay Path during my tenure as provost.

3. What do you most hope academic leaders will learn from your book? What will they be able to do, once they've read it?

The book is divided into three sections.  In Section I, we delve into what it means to be an entrepreneurial leader as well as how to encourage and build the capacity for innovation on your campus.  There are self-assessment tools you can use to evaluate and strengthen your own entrepreneurial leadership skills.  There are also checklists that you can use to assess your institution’s readiness for innovation.  Creating an innovative culture on your campus can be really tricky—it is such a squishy thing and leaders often find themselves running in circles when they try to do culture change. The tools in this first section provide a great and very tangible starting point that can be tailored to your campus culture and mission.

Section II touches on everything you need to know to decide which programs are the right programs to launch at your institution.  You will also find step by step guides for developing and vetting new programs as well as tools and guidance for assessing the financial viability of your new program ideas.  One of the biggest mistakes I have seen schools make in launching new programs is to take their eye off the ball after the program begins to enroll students. I have included a chapter on how to operationalize and sustain new programs for just this reason.  It is really important to continue to monitor the program’s performance, both internally and in its market context after launch so you can adapt quickly as you go.  It is virtually impossible to accurately predict how a new program is going to do before you launch it.  You can do all of the right things and still be surprised—just because the market shifts so quickly.    

In section III, you will find all of those other elements that academic leaders need to consider when bringing a new program to life including how to assess market demand and how to ensure the curriculum will be relevant and responsive to employer demands and workforce needs, among other things.  The book also includes practical advice about how to navigate accreditation requirements, including my own caution to colleagues to think twice before pursuing accreditation if your program and its professional context does not require it.  There is also a chapter on how to think about program resources in new ways including space and facility demands.  As we shift to a 21st century approach to teaching and learning we need to think about academic space planning differently.  Brick and mortar facilities will not need be needed in the same way; however, new infrastructure support systems may need to be created to support the learning experience of the future.

There are many templates and mini case studies spread throughout the book to illustrate key planning principles.  These resources can be used in any context—private or public, small or large institutional setting—to help jumpstart your new academic program development efforts.  At the end of the day, this book gives you many resources that you can immediately apply in any college or university setting; the resources are intentionally designed to be widely adaptable and highly practical.  From firsthand experience, I can also share that these resources reflect best practices and have been refined and improved upon over time.

4. What most excited you, as you were writing your book?

I do a lot of speaking around the country on many of the topics that are included in this book.  And I know from the positive reactions I have received that there is not another book as comprehensive or as immediately practical as this one for helping academic leaders get their arms around something that is so incredibly important for the financial sustainability of our institutions.

We are living in a state of new normal—the level of disruption facing nearly every college and university in this country is unprecedented.  It is essential that our institutions and their leaders find the courage to make the decisions they will need to make to find a way forward that ensures survival and resiliency.  But this will require that leaders and theirs Boards adopt a different mindset.

When I was doing the research for my book I stumbled across the work of the Danish politician Uffe Elbaek, founder of Kaospilot—an innovative business school designed to teach students how to lead through uncertainty.  According to Elbaek, leaders today need to think of themselves as chaos pilots and they need to get really comfortable with and hone the ability to thrive and see a way forward in the midst of uncertainty.  I believe that this book can serve a very useful purpose in this regard; first, by exposing leaders to what this mindset looks like and requires and, second, giving them the tools and a roadmap to make their institutions relevant.  I believe that relevancy and quality are going to be increasingly important differentiators for all of our institutions going forward.

Knowing how valuable this book is and the contribution it will make to the higher ed profession and the wellbeing of our institutions is something that is personally very meaningful to me.  As a first generation college student who could have never imagined when I was 18 years old the professional trajectory that I have been so fortunate to have, I believe strongly in the need for a higher education system that provides many options for students.  One of the wonderful things about the American higher education landscape is the availability of such a wide and rich range of institutional types.  Every institution has its own thumbprint, and I really believe that when you can match students in terms of who they are as unique human beings to the thumbprint of an institution, you will see incredible things happen in their transformation.  But many of these smaller, mission-centric institutions face enormous financial pressures these days.  It will be increasingly difficult for small schools to survive on their own bottoms.  Survival and resiliency will require thinking differently; for example, thinking about other institutions with whom they can align and share resources including academic programs.

I also do not want to lose sight of the importance of small, mission-driven colleges for developing ‘human skills’ in our students—but maybe you don’t need to do that by sitting in a traditional classroom for 3-4 hours over 15 weeks and having a professor at the front of the room.  This book is a good starting place for thinking about other ways that you can get to the same place. I hope that my book will help the leaders of the schools that are especially challenged right now to become the chaos pilots they each have the potential to be.

5. As Provost at Bay Path over the past 10 years, you have instituted a culture that has resulted in the launch of more than 40 new academic programs.  Are there some basic considerations you can offer from your experience to help others generate good ideas for programs that will stick?

The book has an entire chapter on this but let me highlight three things that I have found to be particularly important.

Formalize ideation and creative thinking: Many of us believe that creativity is something you either have or don't. And yet, the research suggests that creative thinking is no different than any other behavior that we might want to change or develop. Thomas Edison’s creative thinking habits provide a great example of how creativity can be cultivated by anyone in nearly any industry. As illustrated by his notebooks, which span six decades, the keys to becoming a habitual creative thinker include: generate as many ideas as possible, discipline yourself to ask “why” and “why not,” keep an idea journal, and adapt an exploratory frame of mind.

One of my colleagues at another institution has a standing agenda item for her weekly deans’ meeting labeled “crazy ideas.” Each week, someone is assigned to share an outlandish idea with her team, with the only rule being: “There is no bad idea.” Invariably, the ensuing discussions lead to breakthrough thinking, and more than a few new programs have been generated because of someone's crazy idea.

The point here is that new ideas typically don't just emerge on their own. The higher ed environment is one where it’s always easier to consider why something cannot be done versus considering what it might take to do something differently. The key is to be intentional in providing opportunities for creative thinking and then giving people the space and the permission to try out ideas and to fail forward.

Mix it up:  Steve Jobs suggests that the best dot-connectors are those who havehadavarietyofdiverseexperiences:“Alotofpeople in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. So, they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the humanexperience,thebetterdesignwewillhave.”

The same “mix-it-up” concept applies to higher ed when you bring the outside into your everyday work processes and experiences. For example, bringing in external professional experts who have differing points of view to work alongside faculty on new academic program brainstorming can lead to some pretty exciting breakthroughs. Research clearly demonstrates that better, more creative solutions emerge from diverse groups of individuals. So, the more we diversify our faculty and staff, the better our odds for creating cultures where creative thinking is likely to emerge.

Set and nurture a ‘beginner’s mind’ environment:  A few years ago, I took a course on mindfulness and was struck—deeply—by the notion of the Beginner’s Mind. As explained in my course, this has to do with approaching a situation with an attitude of openness and curiosity—as if you were approaching it for the very first time. The concept comes from Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi who said, “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.”

The concept sounds simple, and yet, in an academic organization—where we place high value on experts who tell us how things “should be” or “must be”—it is anything but simple. Given the benefits of the approach, it’s worth a try. Whether you’re trying to solve a difficult problem, enhance your own creativity, or open up possibilities in brainstorming, the Beginner’s Mind technique can provide you with fresh eyes and focus. When your mind is open, you are more receptive to ideas and possibilities, you will ask for help more readily, you view failure in a more constructive and less defensive way, and you will be less anxious (which removes a common block to creative thinking).

6. In your writing and speaking, you often refer to the importance of an entrepreneurial or innovative mindset.  What do you mean by this?

The importance of this notion first arose when I was completing my doctoral dissertation research on successful college management practices in the 1990s. I studied the financial performance and management practices of 100 small colleges over a ten-year period.  These were schools that all looked pretty similar at the beginning but by the end of the decade, some had become wildly successful, some experienced little change and a handful had failed.  In looking at these schools, I had this burning question: ‘Given that these schools all started in pretty much the same place with similar resources and constraints, how do you account for the difference in performance;  how is it that some but not all were able to pull together the courage, ambition and skill to improve and become more resilient?’

One of my key findings—which turned out to be statistically significant and has been repeatedly confirmed throughout my career--is that many institutions are shortsighted in their strategic approach.  Particularly during financially challenging times, the temptation to ‘cut one’s way to success’ and improved financial condition is tempting.  And yet, institutions that focus exclusively on retrenchment and sweeping, deep cutbacks rarely succeed.

In my study, I discovered that the schools that were the most successful exhibited a set of characteristics which I termed an innovation or entrepreneurial mindset.  I go into considerable detail on these in the book but here is the list of attributes that are reflected to a greater or lesser extent in the actions taken by the most innovative institutions:

  • Vision and dissatisfaction with present state
  • Perseverance and focused execution
  • Self-belief and internally motivated
  • Courageous risk-takers
  • Opportunity oriented and outward looking
  • Wired to network
  • Negative capability and comfort with uncertainty
  • Focused on doing the right thing and asking the right question
  • Work with what you have, make it up as you go along and just do it
  • Curious

The other important point is that the leaders of the most resilient institutions also reflected these traits. There was a deep synergy between the leaders and the institutions: I am not sure which came first, but it is an important point.  The fit between institutional culture and aspirations on one hand and presidential leadership style and attributes on the other is critically important for long term viability.

7. In this current era of uncertainty, Boards and their institutional leadership teams are facing unprecedented financial challenges.  How does one maintain an innovative mindset when your top challenge is trying to figure out how to keep the doors of your institution open?

According to the research from the business world, successful innovative organizations work at it. They pursue innovation holistically and systematically; they pay attention to the many aspects of the organization that are important for creating and sustaining a culture that embraces new ways of thinking and responding. They establish a discipline around innovation, and they track metrics—religiously—to monitor their results. They also invest in innovation and structure processes and resources to ensure their efforts will be successful.

In higher education, academic leaders need to similarly make innovation a priority. However, in a field as dynamic as higher education where change and creativity can be hindered in surprising ways, any effort to institute change must take into consideration the unique organizational dynamics that are at play on a particular college campus. In my experience, effective academic leaders in higher education are those who adapt their entrepreneurial approach to fit their organizational culture—globally (the culture of higher education as a whole) and granularly (the culture of their specific campus or academic department). What does that look like?   Let me touch on three things that are important:

Make innovation a priority:  Building an innovative culture starts with letting everyone on the campus know that this is an important priority. If innovation is important, then you should treat it just like you do the other things that are important in a collegiate environment such as enrollment, financial management and so on.  Rather than just “doing innovation” for the fun of it, leaders need to provide a clear, compelling, and transparent context for the innovation strategy that clearly links the purpose and goals with your context and mission. For example, Southern New Hampshire University’s 2018- 2023 Strategic Plan is structured around five commitments, each of which responds to four priority areas: “strengthening what we do well; innovating for the future; building capacity for our new ambitious goals (building a platform that allows us to educate 300,000 learners by 2023); and game changing initiatives.”  Other institutions appoint someone at the executive level to be the leader for innovation. And some institutions even create a Board committee that is charged with making sure innovation happens.

Invest strategically in innovation:  One can usually tell what is important on any campus by looking at the budget to see how financial resources are being allocated. Particularly with new ideas, it’s important to have a transparent funding approach and process that can make innovative ideas a reality.  For example, several years ago, Westminster College (Utah) established The President’s Innovation Network (PIN), comprised of individuals and corporate representatives who, collectively, annually provide the president with venture funding to be used in developing educational innovations or other strategic initiatives. In the PIN’s most recent report (annual reports describing the investments and their impact for that year are posted on the President’s website page), the fund supported twelve initiatives ranging from a $50,000 investment to launch a social impact incubator to a $40,000 investment to support Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming and $25,000 to launch a Center for Innovative Cultures.

Take baby steps:  Next time you have a new idea to introduce, try a low-risk learning launch. When my institution was considering adapting our One-Day-Saturday campus-based program for adult women to provide a fully online delivery option, we were concerned that our market might not respond to an online format. Instead of converting all programs at once, we piloted one program to start. After cycling one student cohort through the program and evaluating their experience, we were confident enough in the results to move forward in converting other majors to online delivery. The learning launch was invaluable for testing assumptions about how our adult women best learn, for testing what and how aspects of the campus-based experience can be translated into the online experience, and for experimenting on a smaller, less-risky scale before assuming bigger risk.

My book includes an organizational tool that builds from these ideas to assess your institution’s readiness for innovation.  This can be a good starting place for identifying those things that may get in the way of your innovation efforts if not addressed at the outset.

8. Can you talk with us about innovation in the context of COVID-19? What would you say to academic leaders who, in the crisis, may have their gaze fixed on the short-term?

One of my favorite Kaizen management principles has to do with maintaining the long view in all things. Clearly, Bay Path’s trajectory reinforces the importance of maintaining an outward looking perspective while disciplining yourself to always think two or three steps ahead of where you are at any given moment.  When the baccalaureate occupationaltherapyprogramenrollmentsfellintheearly partofthe2000sduetoexternalregulatoryissues,the president and her team decided to stay the course and not eliminate the program, a strategy many other institutions were pursuing at the time. Maintaining the long view in this case meant that, as the regulatory issues worked themselves out, Bay Path’s program was able to quickly adapt and accommodate the burgeoning student demand. Occupational therapy is now Bay Path’s largest graduate program. Given the pace of change and experimentation within the higher education world these days, academic entrepreneurs must maintain that forward looking eye and be ready to adapt quickly—but in such a waythatthechangesleveragetheinstitution’scoremission and purpose, its strengths, and itspotential.

How might academic leaders best maintain a long view right now, especially as time and resource critical decisions are at your doorstep?  Let me suggest two things for starters:

First, broaden your short-term preparation and planning to extend beyond the current semester. Use this crisis as an opportunity to plan creatively for the entire year and be sure to look beyond just the tactical matters.  Consider the short-term budget and resource allocation decisions you make now in light of your long-range ambitions. For example, if your ambition is to develop more flexible enrollment options for your students, ask your faculty to extend their use of digital technologies in their course preparations for the entire year.  With every decision you make in the next year, ask yourself how potential options will best serve your institution for the long-term. Does it move you closer or further away from the institution you aspire to be in 2030?

Second, look beyond today’s pandemic and focus on the next several years—as far out as 2030—and get clear about the pathway you want your institution to stake out, both post-pandemic and beyond the ‘cliff’ that many had predicted was coming prior to this current crisis. Convene a second task force right now and charge this group with developing a blueprint for the next decade.  Spend some time reflecting on what your institution has learned from Fall 2020. Ask your faculty and students to tell you what went well.  What did you do that is worth continuing and pulling forward?  How are your students’ needs changing in the midst of this pandemic and what does that signal for the future that you must respond to?  Make sure your blueprint for 2030 reflects a well-informed and realistic understanding about the changes in our world as well as in who the students of the future will be and what they will need. Make sure your preparations are driven from the outside in versus being tied to an entirely internal sense about what is happening.  When you are in the midst of great uncertainty, your own instincts and perceptions are likely to be off kilter so be sure to vet them against external data and trends.  Spend time listening to your students but also to employers and other constituents who will be the next link in your students’ journeys---make sure your plans are responsive to what they are telling you.

  

I believe that this moment provides much cause for optimism; especially for those institutions that are able to differentiate between those things that are most worth holding on to—such as our core educational values—and structures, traditions and features that may have outlived their usefulness.  To whatever extent your institution can carve out a pathway to 2030 with options that leverage and reshape your core educational values, using new models and approaches that are responsive to the changing world and your students’ needs, you will remain relevant and your opportunities will be ample.

9. Why is it so difficult for many colleges and universities to be innovative?  In your experience, what are the challenges and what can a leader do about this?

Why is it so difficult to create and maintain a spirit of innovation and creativity within an academic organization? Is there anything that leaders can do to rebalance the dynamics of their work and role?  In my experience, significant change will never occur until the forces for change are greater in combination than the forces preserving the status quo. Especially in academic institutions, the forces for resisting change are often institutionalized in complex and powerful ways resulting in obstacles that can be difficult to overcome.

While some of these obstacles are at work in all organizational settings, they play out uniquely according to a college’s culture, mission, resource constraints, and political dynamics.  I recently wrote about this in my IngenioUs blog.  As condensed from this article, here are three common obstacles that I have seen get in the way of even the most effective leaders along with suggestions for mitigating their impact.

Fear of Change:   Faculty, staff, and administrators are no different from anyone else in being slow to exchange what they know and do, even if they are not happy with it, for the unknown, which has the potential of being far worse. The risk of being deskilled and rendered irrelevant is a powerful fear, especially for faculty, and is often the reason for resistance to new program ideas or delivery models.  How to respond? As leaders, it is important to recognize, validate and normalize the fear that always accompanies any kind of change.  And then make people part of the change—from the very beginning.  Especially with faculty; if they don’t create it, they’ll feel threatened by it.  And if they feel threatened, they’ll resist. 

Zero-Sum Thinking:  Most colleges and universities exist in a culture of competition among institutions, programs, and even among faculty. The pull towards self-protection can be intense, resulting in a fear that if another department or faculty gets new resources, “there will be less for me and my department.”  How to respond?  Be intentional in communicating the purpose of whatever change you are trying to bring about.  Make sure people understand the bigger context and how their individual piece contributes to the greater effort. And don’t forget to spell out the ‘why’—how will this change make things better for your campus community, your faculty, staff and students?

Internal Systems, Processes and Perceived Constraints:  The systems and processes on most campuses tend to reinforce the status quo with few rewards for taking risks. And top-down, control-based hierarchical structures discourage individual initiative and reduce autonomy. How to respond?  Leaders should keep in mind the old adage that ‘while some rules may be necessary, others may encourage mental laziness.’  How might you support the rule breakers on your campus and give voice to those who can see the benefit of rethinking the way things have always been done?  Next time someone suggests that something cannot be done because of budget constraints, send folks back to the drawing table.  Reframe the constraint as a creative challenge by asking ‘what if? or ‘why not?’ questions.   When used to focus attention and energy on the problem at hand, constraints can lead to creative breakthroughs.

10. You have held senior level leadership roles at two resource constrained institutions, each of which has undergone an extraordinary transformation process.  From your experience, what lessons have you learned that you can pass along to other leaders who want to grow and/or strengthen their institutions, especially during these difficult times?

One of the final chapters in the book is actually a case study that tells the story of Bay Path’s success over the past 25 years.  Let me highlight a few of the key takeaways from the Bay Path story, all of which are more relevant today than ever:

Program and revenue diversification are paramount:  There are still too many institutions that have resisted moving to online or adding graduate programs and now that they are faced with a major disruption to their primary educational delivery mode, they are really stuck. The very best way to lower your risk for the future uncertainty that is sure to come is to have as broad a portfolio of offerings and delivery models as your institution can afford.  Obviously, you cannot do it and it is not smart to try and be all things to all students; however, every institution typically has untapped potential to broaden its reach starting with moving existing programs online and offering students some choice.

Even when times are tough, do not stop investing for the future:  Even in the direst of times, there are opportunities to be found for those who can rise above the trenches and consider the full range of assets available to any institution. Sometimes these assets are found in partnership with other institutions and organizations in your area. The point is to look outward and consider your resource base in the broadest terms possible.

When balancing operating efficiencies and market responsiveness, always err on the side of market    responsiveness:  One of the ongoing tensions in any entrepreneurial organization is the need to achieve operating efficiencies and reduce complexity while operating in a flexible and highly adaptive manner. And this a tension that is certainly alive and well at Bay Path. Given the wide range of delivery models, calendars, pricing schemes, and curricular arrangements, there’s always someone who believes the balance has tipped too far in one direction or the other. Yet, it is Bay Path’s ability to respond “on a dime” to market opportunities by structuring programs in a flexible and adaptive way that provides the institution with an advantage that most of its competitors do not possess. Ironically, one needs to also be aware of the potential for new innovations to lose their flexibility once they are enveloped into the institution’s structure.

Exploit synergies—they are everywhere:  Much of Bay Path’s success with new program invention begins with its ability to leverage synergies that are right in sight. For example, the first graduate programs were built on top of existing undergraduate programs, providing a built-in student pipeline from the outset. Many of the graduate programs were designed so that students could customize their programs with coursework and certificates from other areas, leading many to stay on and complete additional degrees. Plus, the multiple delivery models enable students to complete their degrees “their way,” something that has given the institution an important competitive advantage. As noted earlier, every institution has unspent assets that can be leveraged to create new opportunities; rather than looking for that next big “shiny thing.” Try to shift your focus to what already exists and see what low hanging fruit you might be able to find.

11. I understand you are stepping down from your provost role this summer after ten years on the job. This is a very long stint as provost, considering the national average is now less than 4 years!  What’s next for you?

Thanks so much for asking this question.  I am very excited about the next chapter in my life.  I will be remaining at Bay Path in a new role:  Distinguished Professor of Higher Ed Leadership and Founding Director of our new Doctorate in Higher Ed Leadership and Organizational Studies (HELOS) and The Center for Higher Ed Leadership and Innovative Practice (CHELIP).

CHELIP operates as a University-wide learning hub which is supported by an advisory board of partners who are among the most innovative thinkers in higher ed today.  Through CHELIP, we will be providing training opportunities in adaptive leadership, convening discussions focused on innovative ideas across a range of challenges facing higher education — present and future; disseminating content that reports on "breakthroughs" and other higher education innovation best practices, and sponsoring webinars, seminars, and other forums involving trailblazing practitioners and thinkers.  Recently, we launched IngenioUs which is a podcast and blog series helping higher ed professionals stay ahead of the curve with resources about best practices, industry trends and leading-edge thinking.

I am not aware of any other doctoral program that prepares higher education professionals in the way that the Bay Path HELOS program does.  Especially today and in this current climate where disruption is the new normal, leaders need to think and act differently than we did even a few years ago.  The Bay Path doctoral program is all about helping our students develop both the mindset and the skillset to effectively lead change and innovation in an organizational context.  Our students come from a wide variety of institutional types—small, large, public, private and they hold roles across the institution as faculty, staff and administrators.  Regardless of the role or institutional context, students will graduate with what they need to effectively lead in a highly dynamic and disruptive environment.

Of course, I am also looking forward to continuing my involvement with Academic Impressions with more articles, webinars and other trainings and perhaps even a new book in the months ahead!

I have long been a huge fan of Academic Impressions.  You have a wonderful knack for anticipating the professional development needs of faculty and staff and in doing so, you meet a need that is more critical today than ever before.

 

Portrait of MMOMelissa now serves as a Distinguished Professor of Higher Ed Leadership at Bay Path University, and is the Founding Director of the Doctorate in Higher Ed Leadership and Organizational Studies (HELOS) and The Center for Higher Ed Leadership and Innovative Practice (CHELIP). You can purchase her book, “Academic Entrepreneurship: The Art and Science of Creating the Right Academic Programs,” here.