Effective faculty leadership development is important because faculty are the main stakeholders in the university who are committed to the core academic and democratic values that underpin higher education in the US. If faculty members are not effective leaders, then higher education at every level is ineffective and does not fully reflect these core values. While senior administrators, parents, trustees, students, and alumni are also important stakeholders, they may not be as fully committed to the core academic values as faculty, whose professional identity center on these values.
Yet, few institutions offer effective support in developing faculty leaders.
Offering leadership development is distinct from offering faculty development generally. In general, faculty development should be understood to include career-long support for the main activities that are required in the faculty role: teaching, research and public service. It also includes broad professional and career development services that impart the skills needed for faculty to be effective organizational actors and productive scholars. These include: managing their time effectively, working well with others, knowing how to be influential and persuasive, talking with the media, communicating with the public, presenting data, solving organizational problems and other skills.
Leadership development is a specialized and crucially important dimension of professional development for faculty. It includes all the skills and knowledge that faculty need to be effective in a wide variety of leadership roles: chairs of departments, heads of centers and institutes, associate deans, faculty governance officers, leaders in professional associations, policy advocates, etc.
In this paper, we will argue that institutions of higher education should consider introducing and expanding programs for faculty leadership development. Training mid-level faculty leaders is the most practical entry point to begin this work; it is also the most sustainable level for expanding this work in the long term.
To help you get started, this paper will share:
- A framework: 4 reasons why faculty leadership development is especially critical now
- A leadership skills inventory for mid-level faculty
- 10 considerations in designing effective faculty leadership development programs
- A case study highlighting UNC-Chapel Hill’s approach
- Next steps for moving toward a comprehensive faculty leadership development program