leadership development for the next generation

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  • This chapter addresses the critical need for leadershipdevelopment, the current options, and recommendedsolutions for meeting the training needs of a newgeneration of community college leaders.

    NEW DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES, no. 120, Winter 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 59

    8

    Leadership Development for the NextGeneration

    Gordon E. Watts, James O. Hammons

    For well over a decade, researchers and writers have predicted that a significant number of faculty not only would be approaching retirement,but would, in fact, be retiring by the late 1990s and early 2000s (Berry,Hammons, and Denny, 2001; Illinois Community College Board, 1988;Parsons, 1992). All decry the potential problems associated with a shortageof qualified faculty members, and rightly so. That researchers did not alsopredict a concomitant loss in leadership positions is somewhat surprising,especially because faculty status has traditionally been one of the majorpathways into leadership positions.

    Nevertheless, in the past year or so, the looming retirement of lead-ers at all levels created the need for the American Association ofCommunity Colleges (AACCs) Community College Leadership Summitand prompted an AACC study on the retirement plans of community col-lege presidents. The purpose of the leadership summit, according toMcClenney (2001), was to promote a clear and shared understanding ofthe state of community college leadership and the challenges ahead, toheighten awareness of initiatives underway, and to begin building a frame-work for a national plan of action (p. 25). As for the AACC study, Shults(2001) reported that within five years, community colleges will face a crit-ical shortage of leaders at all levels due primarily to planned retirements.Shults concluded that [c]ommunity colleges are facing an impendingleadership crisis (p. 1).

    Clearly, the immediate concern is the preparation of future communitycollege leaders, and it is to that concern that this chapter is addressed.

  • 60 ENHANCING COMMUNITY COLLEGES THROUGH PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    Specifically, we will address the need for and importance of leadership devel-opment, options that currently exist for professional development, issues thatneed to be resolved to meet training needs, and solution strategies.

    Need

    According to Shults (2001), 45 percent of current presidents are planning toretire between now and 2007, and 79 percent are planning to retire by 2011.The number of people in traditional pipelines to the presidencythose earn-ing doctoral degrees through community college leadership programs andcurrent faculty, division chairs, and senior level administratoris also rap-idly declining. Shults (2001) reports that presidents are projecting the retire-ment of at least 25 percent of their top administrators and faculty by 2006.Kelly (2002) reports that in California alone, 50 percent of the faculty willturn over by 2010, and she also points out that between 1982 and 1997, thenumber of advanced degrees awarded in community college leadershipdeclined by 78 percent. Despite the pessimistic tone of the Shults report(2001), he concludes by stating, The skills community college leaders willneed in the future have been identified, however, and professional develop-ment activities exist to help teach those skills (p. 11). Because there arenumerous resources available that address leadership skills, that topic willnot be addressed here.

    Importance

    In discussing the importance of the retirement of community college lead-ers, Shults (2001) points out that inestimable experience and history, aswell as an intimate understanding of the community college mission, val-ues, and culture, will disappear, leaving an enormous gap in the collectivememory and the leadership of community colleges (p. 2). Community col-leges certainly need strong leadership to maintain their overall effectivenessand to maintain their competitive position with four-year institutions inseeking state funding.

    Perhaps of greater importance, however, is the need to maintain thenational stature that community colleges have acquired, as evidenced bycomments from prominent business figures. According to Jim Adams, chairof Texas Instruments, The community college system is an absolutelyimperative part of the fabric of education in this country. Its the thing thatwill help us be competitive leaders in the world, and corporations like minehave to retain a competitive leadership throughout the U.S., throughout theworld (as cited in American Association of Community Colleges, 2002).Tom Peters, management guru and author, has urged, Support your com-munity colleges; the unsung, under-funded backbone of Americas all-important lifelong-learning network (as cited in American Association ofCommunity Colleges, 2002). According to an article in Work America, a

  • monthly newsletter by the National Alliance of Businesses, Clearly, com-munity colleges play a pivotal role in fueling the knowledge economy withqualified workers and, as such, are a critical link in the knowledge supplychain (2000, p. 4).

    What all of these sources are saying, in effect, is that community col-leges have become a vital link between education and the nations economy.The next generation of leaders must have the knowledge and skills to main-tain that position of prominence.

    Certainly it would appear that ample skills and competencies are iden-tified to guide and inform the development of the future cadre of leaders, andthe importance of the task is clear and compelling. The burning question,however, as McClenney (2001) points out, is whether the leadership devel-opment system that served a movement well in the second half of the 20thcentury is now adequate to meet the leadership needs of the 21st. Theanswer, many people believe, is no (p. 26). The remainder of this chapterwill hopefully lead to a more affirmative response.

    Options

    Currently the three main options for providing leadership developmentare through graduate programs, in-house programs, and institutes andworkshops. Each is described below, along with their positive and nega-tive aspects.

    Graduate Preparation Programs. For several decades, traditionalgraduate preparation programs have been the primary suppliers of trainedleaders. On the positive side, there are enough of these programs nation-wide that most potential students have access to one or more. However,McClenney (2001) expressed the concern that too often, graduate pro-grams focus on institutional and faculty needs rather than student needs.Institutions have residency and admissions policies that are antiquated,unnecessary, or do not take into account the needs of nontraditional grad-uate students. Further, classes are frequently scheduled at the convenienceof faculty, and the curriculum is based on what faculty want to teachrather than what students may need to learn in todays workplace.Together these can be barriers to effective graduate programs. Perhaps theideal graduate program would provide students with the opportunity toassess their own learning needs and then with faculty assistance, designtheir own program learning objectives and activities.

    In-House Programs. In-house programsor grow-your-own pro-grams, as they are sometimes calledare based on community college cam-puses. Some are simple and may include nothing more than an internshipexperience for potential leaders while others are fairly elaborate and formal.These programs have the benefits of potentially being developed on everycommunity college campus, can include all potential leaders on campus,and usually operate at no cost to participants. However, the quality of

    LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION 61

  • 62 ENHANCING COMMUNITY COLLEGES THROUGH PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    such programs can be uneven, and the training rarely translates into grad-uate credit.

    Institutes and Workshops. There are a variety of special institutesand workshops for leadership development at the national level. For cur-rent presidents, AACC has created a number of development experiences,which are detailed elsewhere in this volume. For aspiring presidents, theLeague for Innovation in the Community College, in cooperation withAACC and the University of Texass Community College LeadershipProgram, has designed the weeklong Executive Leadership Institute. Twotraining opportunities are operated by the Maricopa Community CollegeDistrict located in Tempe, Arizona, the Academy for Leadership Training(sponsored by the Chair Academy), and the National Institute forLeadership Development. Although it once focused exclusively on trainingfor division and department chairs, the yearlong Academy for LeadershipTraining and Development now provides leadership training at all organi-zational levels. The National Institute for Leadership Development offersthree-day national conferences, four-day issues forums, and weeklong insti-tutes for leadership development specifically for women who are either inor aspiring to leadership positions.

    Additional leadership development programs have been developed fora statewide audience. One example is the Leadership Institute for a NewCentury. Sponsored by the Iowa State University Higher EducationProgram, the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees, and theIowa Association of Community College Presidents, it is designed toencourage participants to move into leadership positions in the Iowa com-munity colleges. The format is a day-and-a-half seminar once each monthfor the nine months of the academic year. The program is notable becauseit has overcome a number of the negative aspects inherent in university-sponsored programs similar to this one. Typically, university bureaucraciesare too cumbersome, the costs for credit too high, and the pay for programfaculty too great to ensure any type of succ

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