Comprehensive University Environment Thesis

Pages: 12 (3216 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

¶ … University Environment Leadership Change

A comprehensive university environment demonstrates a unique environment for change and especially high order change such as the replacement of senior leadership, be it departmentally or university wide. Due to the fact that a comprehensive university environment contains many of its stakeholders and requires those stakeholders to interact on a daily basis a comprehensive university is unique from other organizations. Change models apply to this scenario at a higher order level as the dynamics of interaction and the need for unilateral communication are intense. This work will discuss the question of "What happens" in a Comprehensive University Environment when there is a change of Senior Leadership; comparing the styles of leaders and the impact of those styles in a Comprehensive University Environment; and finally reviews and critiques of emerging leadership theories/models; and successful development programs.


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The comprehensive university environment is a dynamic and unique environment for many reasons not the least of which is that the environment is collective and contains continual interaction between consumers and providers. There are actually few other organizational environments which combine the consumer with the provider on a continual basis. This is particularly interesting with regard to organizational change as perception is one of the key factors in all dynamic change processes. (Weick & Quinn 1999) the comprehensive university environment contains the perspectives of both the organization itself and all its players and that of a large body of students who comprise its consumer base. While many continual dynamic changes can take place that are relatively unnoticed by the consumer, unless they directly affect them senior leadership changes are fundamentally noticeable and often leave both groups wondering what the new leadership as apposed to the old leadership will change about the environment and whether such change will be positive and productive or negative and frustrating.

Thesis on Comprehensive University Environment Assignment

Organizations undergo change, and how they cope with that change in large part determines whether they succeed or fail. Of all the kinds of organizational change, changes in leadership are among the most common.

Perception of the change process then becomes a twofold issue, one in which the new senior leadership must communicate with the publics, including direct consumers (such as enrolled students) and faculty/staff of the university. Consumers need to fully understand the positive aspects of proposed leadership vision and faculty/staff need to have a cohesive understanding of how the leadership change will affect the manner in which they conduct their work.

While some changes may be seen as overdue, implying that the previous leadership was not doing its job well, (Weick & Quinn 1999) while others that are reflective of progress might be resisted, as they could be seen as overbearing and fundamentally destructive to the learning environment. Some examples of each of these possible change functions can be found in one area that is frequently addressed when primary leadership changes in a university or other environment, i.e. economics.

They often bring with them the need for additional communication within the organization, and the organization's public relations practitioners frequently are asked to manage that communications activity. Additional communication is called for at such a time because one role of a leader in an organization is to provide a vision of a "realistic, credible, attractive future for [the] organization" ( Nanus, 1992, p. 8). That vision has been conceptualized as "a set of blueprints for what the organization will be in the future" ( Tichy & DeVanna, 1986, p. 128), a "roadmap" for organizational members to follow ( Barge, 1994, p. 183), and an "agenda" ( Kotter, 1982, p. 60). (Farmer, Slater & Wright, 1998, p. 219)

Universities all over the world are currently seeking to reduce costs to better meet the needs of a growing student population, without the auspices of additional funding. ("Despite Aid Pledges, University," 2002, p. A09) (Merrill, 2004) for this reason a new leader might institute an energy conservation program that might be seen by all as long overdue, while at the same time the leader might need to cut programming or funding to trim underutilized aspects of a program or department. While the former might be seen as fundamental and necessary and might be perceived to reduce costs in a way that limits impact on the learning environment, budget cuts to programs are seen as intrusive and often feared by both students and faculty/staff. Of course this is just one example that crosses the gambit of possible real and feared change that takes place in a comprehensive university environment when senior leadership changes. Not to be taken lightly, budget shortfalls and having to do more for less is one of the most fundamental reasons why senior leadership changes occur in higher education as the shortfall between providing the service and doing so with the accountability/corporate mindset are changing universities and other public institutions in fundamental ways. It was once acceptable to spend excess of income on institutions of higher learning as the work they did was seen as an "investment" in the future knowledge of the nation and world, yet increasingly knowledge is seen as a commodity that must in many ways account for itself and this has created a massive perceptual shortcoming for many universities, both public and private that have traditionally been allowed to use more than they receive in support. The pressure this places on senior leadership has created what many might see as a revolving door on senior leadership, where tried and true old school leaders, that people once assumed would leave their positions near the close of their careers are now being replaced by those who have accountability in the forefront of their minds. It is therefore unlikely that a new senior leader in a comprehensive university environment would not challenge existing models of leadership and have new goals that better fit into a new model of accountability, economically and theoretically.

To achieve the ends of economic growth, governments resort to many devices that are presumed to create greater efficiencies in the use of public dollars while expanding the reach of higher education. Budget reductions and general resource constraints have become commonplace, while institutions are being asked to serve increasing numbers of students and constituencies (Dill & Sporn, 1995; Eicher, 1998). Methods for administering higher education are being transformed, while colleges and universities are being urged to engage in new tasks and assume new responsibilities (Marcus, 1997). The entire nature of the traditional relationship between government and higher education is in the process of significant change in stretching the public dollar to serve more students in attempting to maximize economic returns. (Alexander, 2000, p. 411)

So, in short comprehensive university environments can be seen as a group of environments under intense scrutiny and in a period of dynamic overall change. This change process, again, often results in the replacement of senior leadership, both departmentally and university wide. This work will discuss what happens in a comprehensive university environment when senior leadership changes occur and how this environment falls into existing and new organizational change models.

Senior Leadership Vision

The perception of these changes, which will likely be different for both the student and the faculty/staff might be fundamentally resisted or embraced depending on how they are perceived as changing the environment as well as the individual goals of each stakeholder. Creating communications and utilizing management styles that will fundamentally support even the toughest organizational changes is the role of the new senior leader. If the senior leader is able to achieve "buy in" from both students and faculty/staff regarding the new "improved" way that the university will focus its time and resources the new leader is more likely to be successful at developing compliance and positive growth. Desirable leadership attributes such as the possession of "passion to lead" as well as physical and psychic energy, "organizing abilities, a mature personality, a requisite amount of intelligence, task-relevant knowledge, confidence, adaptability, and integrity." (Muczyk & Adler, 2002, p. 5) to develop the appropriate communication styles and developmental "buy in" for a new vision a senior leader must do three things for the stakeholder; "1) increase subordinates' awareness of the importance of their taskls and performing them well; 2) make subordinates aware of their needs for personal growth, development, and accomplishment; and 3) motivate subordinates to strive for the good of the whole as apposed to pursuing their personal agendas." (Muczyk & Adler, 2002, p. 6) Muczyk & Adler suggest that though some of the skills needed to perform these tasks are innate others are learned skills associated with good leadership training. (2002, p. 5) Training a good leader, though it may not seem implicitly effective is still very much a part of the development of organizations, yet in a comprehensive university environment the tasks are so fundamentally large that it is hopes if not assumed based on the historical successes of the chosen senior leadership that they will have developed as leaders prior to their entrance into the position. (Sanders, Hopkins & Geroy,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Comprehensive University Environment" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Comprehensive University Environment.  (2009, August 31).  Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Comprehensive University Environment."  31 August 2009.  Web.  28 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Comprehensive University Environment."  August 31, 2009.  Accessed February 28, 2021.