Navigating Change and Complexity in Higher Education

Navigating Change and Complexity in Higher Education

May 18 - 20, 2020 | Kansas City, MO



Please check back for confirmed dates and location information.

Coronavirus update: To ensure the safety of participants and speakers, this program has been postponed. Registration details will be provided soon.



Learn how to lead change through collaborative, task-focused, strategic meetings.

Change—and how to lead people through it—is one of the most important yet difficult tasks that higher ed leaders face today.

Join us for a one-of-a-kind program that will equip you with the skill set and mindset you need to lead your team through change in a confident and collaborative manner. Through a mixture of case studies, simulations, and group discussions, you will receive a variety of practical tools you can apply to your own change effort to help you:

  • Establish a shared vision
  • Gather input from stakeholders at multiple levels  
  • Gain buy-in
  • Turn fear of the unknown into excitement for the future


Unique to Higher Education

Leading change in any setting is difficult—even more so in a university setting that is tradition-bound and unaccustomed to moving quickly. That’s what makes this program so unique; every tool and strategy we share has been proven to work in higher education.

This training is highly experiential; you’ll spend your three days with us doing hands-on activities, engaging in discussion, and applying what you learn to your own work. You’ll walk away with a practical workbook loaded with tools and strategies to support you once back on campus, as well as a complimentary copy of Dr. Patrick Sanaghan’s book Collaborative Leadership in Action.

To help preserve the practical and interactive environment, attendance for this program is capped at 30 participants. You will receive personalized attention to ensure you can move your unique effort forward.


Who Should Attend

This program has been specially designed for mid-level to senior leaders who are managing large-scale change efforts. Past participants who have benefitted from this program have been engaged in change efforts such as:

  • Leading strategic planning processes
  • Managing growth or culture change within a division
  • Degree program redesigns
  • Regional accreditation processes

Internal staff focused on organizational development will also benefit.

Follow Through With Success Coaching

Have you ever gone to a training only to find that you came back with great ideas but don’t have the time, support, or skills needed to make the changes?

Academic Impressions has produced thousands of trainings and we have learned that utilizing a coach after attending a conference helps provide accountability and bridges the training with the on-the-ground work of getting the job done.

As a result, we are now offering success coaching on select conferences.

  • Purchase this training + 3 one hour follow up success coaching calls
  • Work with an assigned coach who has extensive experience in higher ed.
  • Get individualized support to help you follow through on what you’ve learned.
  • Workshop your plans, run your ideas by someone and get additional help/practice.

To learn more, contact Elizabeth Ross Hubbell at or purchase the Premium Pass with success coaching below.

"This workshop exceeded my expectations. I've vastly expanded my abilities and knowledge of the subject matter and will take back to my institution those new skills. The shift in how I view collaboration is tremendous.”

- Michelle Rosecrans, Director of Alumni Engagement, Miami University

Read what past attendees have said about this event.

“This conference was very resourceful and jam-packed. There was a lot of powerful information and take-aways provided specific to higher education.”

- Amanda Archambeau, Business Manager, Duke University

“Packed schedule, but so organized; I was ‘present’ the whole time. Great methods to take back to my university and move us forward.”

- Shauna Corry, Dean - College of Art and Architecture, University of Idaho

“After attending countless conferences during my 15 years in higher ed, this stands out as one of the absolute best experiences. The presenters, subject matter, and small group atmosphere made for a game-changing experience.”

- Emily Berry, Assistant Vice President for Development, Individual & Annual Giving, Miami University


Your registration fee includes full access to all conference sessions and materials, breakfast, lunch, and access to the networking reception on Monday, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.

Day One

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Framework: Thinking Styles Inventory

Anytime you bring together groups of people, you will have multiple perspective and working styles. We’ll use the Hermann Brain Dominance Inventory as a lens for looking at engagement and creating the conditions for collaboration.

Conceptual Framework: 3 Questions
Why do some people readily engage in change efforts while others hold back? We’ll introduce you to the three questions people ask themselves as they decide whether or not to personally invest in a group. These also serve as lenses for creating the conditions of participation and commitment.



An Appreciative Inquiry into Collaborative Leadership

We often approach change efforts from a deficit mentality, trying to fix what’s wrong or not working. In this session, we’ll introduce appreciative Inquiry, a strength-based approach to planning and innovating as a more productive means of engaging stakeholders and moving change efforts forward.



Case Example/Study: School of Public Health

This case will demonstrate how the faculty in a school of public health was meaningfully engaged in the redesign of their Master's in Public Health degree.  



Case Study: Community College

In our second case, we’ll explore an example of a large and decentralized community college that had two campuses and was coming together under a single governing structure for the first time. Using the techniques presented in this program, they gathered more than 200 faculty and campus leaders to identify the big issues and compelling themes that would guide their new strategic plan.



Understanding the Flow Model

Collaborative meetings can accelerate your strategic change initiatives. We’ll introduce the underlying structure of a good, collaborative/participatory meeting. We’ll use the work we’ve done together to illustrate the Flow Model and how its use helps you people engaged and committed to the discussion.



Action Learning: Reflection and Debriefing

This is an opportunity to “go to the balcony” and shift from active participant to reflective observer and do sensemaking of the material presented. This will be an opportunity to consider implications and discuss emerging questions.

Homework: Scan the design book and see what catches your attention/piques your interest. Be prepared to discuss this on Day 2.   



Networking Reception

This informal reception is your chance to decompress, have some refreshments on us, and expand your network of connections. Our programs are intentionally designed for smaller groups, so this is a great time to catch-up with attendees and speakers whom you may not have connected with yet.


Day Two

8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Designing Change: Expanding Your Toolkit

We’ll explore additional methods by which you can engage stakeholders across silos and across the campus to move a change process forward.



Collaborating Across Boundaries

While silos serve a functional purpose, they reinforce fragmented or partial views of the whole. We’ll walk through multiple ways to create a holistic view of the institution and use it to establish relevance and generate momentum towards the new initiative.



Designing Change: Practice Session

As a way of applying the concepts and tools, small groups will be given a design challenge. This will highlight both the structure and flexibility in designing a collaborative meeting or process.



Case Example: Reinvigorating the Strategic Plan

This case focuses on the use of a one-day faculty/staff retreat to refocus and re-energize a strategic plan.  



Mini Case Example: Input to Committees

We often divide up a strategic effort by forming committees or task forces to take on different pieces of the whole. These groups do their work and then have the challenge of selling (or getting buy in) to their recommendations from others. In this mini case study, we’ll explore how we flipped this dynamic.



Design Your Next Meeting

We’ll provide templates to help you scope out a real situation where convening and engaging campus stakeholders would be critical to moving a strategic effort forward.


Day Three

8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Designing Change: Expanding Your Toolkit

We’ll explore additional methods by which you can convene large groups to gather data, synthesize information, and make recommendations to move a change process forward.



Designing Your Change Process and Receiving Feedback

Time to translate the tools into a useable, meaningful back-home application is an essential part of the learning process. We’ll designate time in the session for individuals (or teams) to draft a collaborative design and get feedback from small consulting groups. This is an opportunity for individual integration and for learning from and supporting the efforts of others.



Guided Journaling and Action Planning

Alone and with a thought partner, you will identify specific steps that you can take when you return to your campus.



Distilling the Most Important Lessons

We’ll reflect on the last three days and distill the most important lessons and takeaways about working with larger groups to tackle your institution’s most difficult challenges.

May 18 - 20, 2020 | Kansas City, MO

Please check back for hotel information.

All Room Reservations have been canceled for this event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Niecie Washington at or 720.988.1266.



portrait of Nancy Aronson
Nancy Aronson

Clinical Assistant Professor
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Nancy specializes in bringing large groups of people together, to work across silos, and achieve a meaningful outcome for the task at hand. Bringing people together is critical to leading change in higher education, Nancy can help you do it right.

Read Nancy's Full Bio.

portrait of Patrick Sanaghan
Patrick Sanaghan

The Sanaghan Group

Pat has helped over 100 institutions facilitate strategic planning and change processes that engage the entire campus community and actually get implemented. Whatever change initiative you're undertaking, Pat can help you ensure that it gets implemented.

Read Pat's Full Bio.

All-Inclusive Members Get

$250 OFF!*

Learn More About Membership


  • All presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources

  • Main Conference

  • Breakfast & Lunch All 3 Days

  • Networking Reception

  • 3 Follow Up Success Coaching Calls

  • $2,795

    through Jan 18 $2,895

Conference Binder

  • -

  • -

  • -

  • -

  • $295


Conference Pass

  • -

  • $2,495

    through May 1 $2,595

Premium Pass

  • $3,095

    through May 1 $3,195

Conference Binder

  • All presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources

  • $295


Conference Pass

  • All presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources

  • Main Conference

  • Breakfast & Lunch All 3 Days

  • Networking Reception

  • $2,495

    through May 1 $2,595

Premium Pass

  • All presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources

  • Main Conference

  • Breakfast & Lunch All 3 Days

  • Networking Reception

  • 3 Follow Up Success Coaching Calls

  • $3,095

    through May 1 $3,195

Questions About the Event?

Portrait of Patricia Sandler

Patricia Sandler
Director of Integrated Professional Development

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.

*All-inclusive members receive $250 off of conference registrations (in addition to the early bird discount if applicable). Academic Affairs, Advancement/Alumni Relations, Business Office, Enrollment Management, Student Affairs, and Leadership members will continue to receive $100 off conference registrations. Upgrade your membership to qualify for a higher discount. Please note this discount is not applicable on pre- or post-conference workshops or conference binders.