In the spring of 2020, the world was disrupted by a virus, and since then, our ordinary has transformed drastically. The disruption caused a rise in telecommuting, advancements in technology impacting nearly every industry, more online education, telehealth to be the norm, and a greater demand for masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes. The drastic changes have placed enormous responsibility and stress on everyone, especially those currently sitting within a leadership position. The new and unprecedented environment, the emotional and mental health ramifications of the pandemic, the new way of communicating, and the speed of transition are just a few of the variables that have stretched leaders to grow and develop their ability to lead others. Warren Bennis asked the question many years ago, "Are leaders born or made?" If we have learned anything from this pandemic regarding leadership, it is that leadership is learned. We tend to choose leaders based on qualities that are not necessarily indicative of outstanding leadership. These individuals tend to be hyper-extroverted, have the best oral communication skills, or are the department's best individual contributor. Although these individuals can be great leaders given the right guidance and a growth mindset, it is a different set of personal qualities that allow leaders to lead effectively. Leaders with the ability or willingness to continually learn, apply, and reflect, are the ones that are successful through these volatile times. It is having and acting on the motivation to continuously learn that sets great leaders apart in today's environment. However, the list of leadership competencies is numerous, so
Early in my career in higher education, I learned a valuable lesson from an unengaged student. At the time, I worked in the admissions office for a small rural community college, so I knew nearly every student enrolled. The semester had been in full swing for a month, and students, faculty, and staff could feel the rhythm of our lives begin to settle again. During a lunch outing, I ran into one of our students and asked how he liked his courses. The student unapologetically told me that he rarely went to class, so he wasn’t sure how he liked them. I was shocked. The student seemed bright, energetic, and I knew he was highly involved in student body activities. I needed to understand, so I prodded for more information. He explained that instructors repeated a summarized version of what was available in the textbook. He believed he could read the text, review the presentation materials available on the learning management system on his own time, and be just as prepared for a test or assignment as the students who went to class. Several years later, I took my place in the classroom for the first time. My conversation with the unengaged student pushed me to discover everything I could about what keeps a learner engaged. Focus on learning rather than teaching. Educators are aware of the strong correlation between engagement in the learning environment and improved learning outcomes. However, the traditional delivery of education wherein an educator transmits knowledge to a passive learner does not foster such engagement.
At the core of every higher education institution’s mission and vision is quality. Colleges and universities worldwide understand their responsibility to provide students with programs and instruction that prepare them to be active contributing members of society. To adequately prepare students, all higher education institutions must participate in continuous improvement efforts that are focused on meeting and exceeding minimum standards of quality. Accreditation is one of the key ways of demonstrating a commitment to quality education. Furthermore, obtaining and maintaining institutional and programmatic accreditation is vital to communicating value to prospective students, employers, and all other stakeholders, including faculty and alumni. However, programmatic accreditation is consuming and costly. Once an institution commits to seeking accreditation for its program, whether it be business, early childhood education, or health care administration, getting through it can feel daunting or nearly impossible. Forming an effective accreditation committee allows institutions to take control of the process. For over 20 years, Bill Parrott has worked directly with schools to achieve accreditation and reap the associated benefits. Parrott asserts that a well-structured committee of 6 to 8 of the right people is instrumental to the process. The Editor The editor is responsible for compiling all the information and narrative provided by other committee members to craft a well-organized and consistent self-study. As someone who spent a significant portion of his career reading self-studies, Parrott reports, “It is much easier to read through a self-study as an accreditor when it has one voice.” Most editors are chosen based on a person’s