Thesis: Attributes of the Ideal Leader in Higher Education

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Higher Education

The sphere of higher education demands leaders that are strong and efficient at carrying out the stated goals of the institutions they serve. In recent years there have been many changes at institutions of higher learning. These changes have forever altered the types of attributes that are needed by leaders at these institutions

"Higher education in general, and business education in particular, face a barrage of demands for change. These include calls for greater accountability, greater access, more relevant research, enhanced global competitiveness, and more responsiveness to pressing societal concerns. Many educators and administrators perceive these demands as threats, and they have reacted with defensiveness to the possibility of outside intervention and oversight (Penley 2009)."

purpose of this discussion is to provide a literature review of the attributes of ideal leaders in higher education. The review will focus on where learning and leadership occur, learning opportunities, leadership opportunities, how adults will participate, and the purpose of activities.

Literature Review

Leadership in higher Education

Over the past decade there have been many changes in Higher Education in countries across the world. These changes have been driven by stakeholders including government, communities and students. The author further explains that these changes have led institutions of higher learning to question the manner in which they are managed. In the past models of leadership were associated with collegiality, however, these models are no longer consistent with the demands of customers who desire business-like reactions to complex circumstances. As such today's institutions of higher education have to focus more on organizational vision (Davies et al., 2001). Such vision is inclusive of customer-centered and outward looking leadership. This type of leadership is in direct conflict with the inward looking culture that has been the standard form of leadership at institutions of higher learning for many years. The authors further explain that "The main sources of these pressures on higher education establishments are students, the government, the business community and the local community (Davies et al., 2001)."

Marginson (2006) also explains the changes occurring in the Higher education are now found in the context of an open information environment. In this environment national borders no longer exist and identities are formed on a continuous basis as a result of interaction with people from different backgrounds. As a result of this environment higher education can be viewed as a singular global arrangement. This does not mean that the higher education system is unified. However it does mean that the higher education system consists of the following three characteristics.

(1) Globalization and networks contains ideas and concepts, interinstitution relationships, knowledge and finance (Marginson, 2006).

(2) Institutions of higher learning that are fashioned by law, history, funding and policy (Marginson, 2006).

(3) individual institutions operating simultaneously on the local, national and global level (Marginson, 2006).

The author further explains that

"It is an imperfectly integrated arrangement, characterised by uneven and changing patterns of engagement and communication; many zones of autonomy and separation; and stable and unstable hierarchies. Relationships are structured by cooperation and competition; and there are fecund mutual influences, doggedly persistent differences, and often surprising similarities of approach within and across borders. This bounded, complex, hierarchical, fragmented, contested, product-making, subject-forming, continually transforming world-wide arrangement; with its specific rules, discourses and exchanges; recalls Bourdieu's (1996) notion of a 'field of power'(Marginson,

2006)."

Learning and Leadership

In the field of higher education learning and leadership go hand in hand. Institutions of higher education have the primary goal of educating students and creating leaders for the future. As such leadership at institutions of higher learning must understand their role in ensuring that this goal is realized. This means that there must be a clear mandate as it pertains to where and how learning will take place. For the most part a great deal of the learning takes place in the classroom. However students also learn outside of the classroom environment. For instance, students at colleges and universities learn a great deal about life and how to interact with others by living in a dormitory.

Students also learn from activities associated with community service. On many campuses community service is highly encouraged and in some cases students are required to have a required number of community service hours in order to graduate. This teaches students the importance of assisting people in the community. Such a process also assists students in building leadership skills of their own.

The art of providing an environment in which students learn in the classroom and outside of the classroom is the responsibility of leaders. Unfortunately many schools have difficulty bridging the gap between the learning environment and the leadership environment in the context of institutions of higher learning. The reason for this difficulty has its foundation in the serious changes that universities have undergone as it pertains to leadership styles. In addition the speed at which change occurs in the sphere of higher education has rapidly accelerated. According to Davies (2001)

"For centuries universities were relatively stable environments in which change occurred slowly and normally at a pace dictated by the universities themselves as they discovered advancements in knowledge. In this sort of environment, which would be classed by Weber as bureaucratic (Cole, 1990), an administrative

approach to running the organization is all that is necessary to keep things 'ticking over' . This could largely be accomplished through the support structures such as

Registrars' departments. Senior academics developed policy that was then largely implemented by these administrators. In broad terms, universities saw their mission as discovering and disseminating knowledge (Davies 2001)

As a result of these rapidly occurring changes associated with the type of education that institutions of higher learning offer and the manner in which people in positions of leadership react to these changes, colleges and universities have experienced some difficulty as it pertains to the manner in which these issues are confronted.

In recent years, leaders have been placed in the position of finding and taking advantage of leadership opportunities. Because these institutions are managed in a manner that is more reflective of a for profit business, many of the leaders on college and university campuses have some experience in the business world. Gone are the days when the president of a university was also a professor at the university. Because there is less of a link between academia and certain leadership positions on college campuses choosing leaders with the proper leadership attribute is key.

One of the primary attributes that should be present in a leader in the field of higher education is a high ethical standard. Having high ethical standards are important because leaders in this field are trusted with the minds and lives of young people who are often away from home and the security that family brings. As such the manner in which leaders handle student affairs is vitally important.

Additionally the presence of ethical standards is of particular importance as it pertains to the admissions process. According to an article entitled "Ethical Leadership

in Higher Education Admission: Equality vs. Equity" many leaders in the area of admissions have to make difficult choices concerning the admission of students. According to the article "Ideally admission decisions should match the goals of individual and societal equity, and equality should drive both policy and specific decisions. However, the ideal seldom applies. Rather, admission professionals find a tension between equity and equality; the individual and larger social benefits; and in an artificially created market shortage (Caldwell, 2007)." Because this issue is present leaders must have an ethical standard that ensures that they can make decisions that are reflective of the standards of the institution while also ensuring that the decisions that are made are ethical. The article further explains that

"Many policy decisions have negatively impacted participation of the disadvantaged in higher education of the past two decades: the shift from need-based to merit-based financial aid; a shrinking pool of financial aid; and the reduction of state support for public higher education occurring at the legislative level. Additionally institutions' desires are often driven by financial need, raising student qualifications. The consequences, albeit unintended, of programs, such as the Hope Scholarship Program and the shift to merit-based institutional scholarships, have worked against both equality and equity. They neither provide all students the same opportunities nor provide an advantage to a specific group.

Instead these polices have tended to reinforce the status quo and narrow the range of benefiting students able to benefit."

The changing environment related to the diversity of applicants has created a complex decision making process. This process must take into consideration the issues that arise when evaluating people from vastly different backgrounds. In some cases adhering to certain admissions standards becomes difficult because students may not meet all of the criteria but they have compelling backgrounds that would enhance diversity on the campus is f the student is selected for admission. In such cases leaders must possess the capacity to understand their ethical responsibility in such situations.

Another article entitled "Enhancing higher… [END OF PREVIEW]

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