On the sixth day of Christmas, an extra ordinary Jamaican gave to me:
The blessing of leadership in higher education.
Educational leaders value people, are results-driven, have strong business acumen, and are skilled in building coalitions and communications. Educational leadership must develop a passion to create an environment in which students, faculty, and administration invest significant time and effort to mutually support teaching and learning. To be effective, leadership must continually alter and adjust to new and changing situations, take advantage of new opportunities and develop operational goals and objectives to meet changing internal and external institutional demands. Educational leadership must embrace the fact that every individual within a learning institution must be a strategic thinker who is able to: (1) integrate and orchestrate knowledge skills, (2) set realistic, challenging performance objectives and (3) manage his or her own learning and skill set enhancement. Successful educational leadership uses the tool of collaboration to invite the participation of alumni and employers of program graduates in the teaching and learning process.
Successful educational leadership measures its progress toward achieving its goals by applying the following benchmarks:
- Decisions and actions that improve and expand learning.
- Engagement of learners as full and responsible partners in their learning.
- Development of curricula that identify what students need to know and be able to do in order to perform competently and successfully once they leave the institution.
- Students’ academic achievements and acquisition of work-related skills.
- Commitment by all members of the learning community to their own life-long learning and the members’ ability to describe how they contribute to learning or learner success.
It takes commitment and effort to develop and maintain a collaborative learning environment that is not dependent on any one individual for success. People must be valued, both as members of a team and as individuals. A strong organizational value system is required for success. Vision and the utilization of creativity, authenticity, interaction, empowerment, and passion to communicate are some of the necessary leadership skills that must be applied to accomplish the outcomes of higher education.
Dr. Weymouth Spence
President, Columbia Union College,
Takoma Park, Maryland