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Welcome to the Weekly Higher Ed Innovation Roundup.

JFF Labs

JFF Labs is the new strategy and innovation arm of Jobs for the Future. JFF aims to ensure that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy. Watch this space for updates on transforming education for the future.

Rethinking Leadership in Higher Ed.

In the last week, I came across two articles on considering co-presidencies in higher ed:

The author, a former college president, points out that she is not interested in another presidency, unless...she could do a co-presidency. She highlights the use of co-presidents in the private sector and the use of interim co-presidents in higher ed. Essentially, no one person has all of the skills needed for the presidency, this practice could increase the pool of candidates and has the potential to foster diversity, and it is the embodiment of collaboration and cooperation.

Starting next month, the College of Idaho is giving it a try.

Over the weekend, I read this amazing interview with Ruth Simmons in the NYTimes, Growing a sense of confidence. I was so inspired by her approach to leadership that I wanted to share a couple of points, but I recommend you read the whole thing. It’s fantastic.

  • She approaches leadership as a disposition: “the ability to step into a situation to learn about the history of the enterprise, the opportunities that it faces, the culture that exists and the people who are served by it. To look at all of that, to listen to stakeholders and then to think about how that enterprise or institution should best be served. There is no one model of leadership if you approach it that way.”
  • She starts with the institution, not her own vision: “What I have tried to do wherever I go is to start where the institution is rather than try to import particularly rigid constructs from other places.”

We need more of this in higher ed. The challenge is that folks on campus often want a president with what I call a “Capital L” type of leadership, a big man on campus, often to our own detriment. What we want is not always what we need.

What do you do after your presidency? If you’re Nancy Zimpher you lead the Center for Education Pipeline Systems Change and you focus on taking solutions to scale for the state and the country. Her thinking on educating more people:  "We would be smarter in our health care, we would be better citizens, our children would be better educated, they would be healthier, we would be less reliant on social services, if we were better educated. There's nothing more important than that."

Teaching and Learning are what we do

Student supports are crucial and important, but if we don’t change the way we teach, “then we’re building a really nice house only to furnish it with stuff we found on the curb.” Read this piece on Inclusive Teaching to get some ideas on how we could be doing things differently, including valuing course design, discernment, and a sense of belonging.

What did I miss? What should I cover next week? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @mary_churchill.


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