Concurrent Sessions

The Leadership in Higher Education Conference represents the leading thinking on strategic issues in higher education today. Concurrent sessions are peer selected in several ways. After an open call for proposals, the conference advisory board members choose selected presentations through a rigorous blind review process. Outstanding presenters from the previous conference—as evaluated by conference attendees—return as invited presenters with either an updated or reprised version of their top-scoring presentation. Finally, the advisory board determines trends or topics not addressed by the general sessions and creates content in these areas.

⸻ Look for sessions in these tracks: ⸻

Leadership and Professional DevelopmentDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Institutional Culture and ClimateStudent Recruitment, Retention, and Success
Special Topics in Academic LeadershipLet’s Get Started! What Every New Academic Leader Needs to Know

Leadership and Professional Development

Becoming An Anti-Racist Department Chair: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies

Leila Ricci, California State University, Los Angeles
For participants who are new to this topic

Chairing an academic department is challenging, but even more so when working with faculty search committees to implement anti-racist practices. Commitment to anti-racism can be highly impactful for ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic departments through the hiring of tenure-track faculty from marginalized communities who are underrepresented in academia. In this session, participants will define anti-racism in the context of an academic search; analyze real-life scenarios depicting challenges for chairs and search committees; determine opportunities for implementing anti-racism; and identify anti-racist strategies that can be implemented by chairs.


Career Curveball

Rebecca Campbell, New Mexico State University and Gypsy Denzine, Virginia Commonwealth University
For participants who are experienced in this topic and are ready to learn more

Academic leaders are typically goal driven and have a clear career roadmap. Yet, many are thrown a career curveball. Some leaders are thrown into an interim situation, while others experience the unpleasant nature of “at will” or a devastating vote of no confidence. Many of us did not prepare for our immediate career opportunity or derailment. In this session, we will engage participants in planning for unforeseen opportunities, as well as career crises. This highly interactive session will engage participants in a discussion about what to negotiate up front and how to plan in advance for possible career curveballs.


Creating and Sustaining Multifaceted Faculty Mentoring Programs

Jennifer Potter and Cynthia Cooper, Towson University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

This session offers a roadmap for administrators and faculty leadership to create a multifaceted approach to faculty mentoring—an approach that offers opportunities for formal and informal faculty mentorship at the department, college, and university level. Because no one mentoring model works in all situations, this presentation focuses on the benefits of creating and sustaining faculty mentoring opportunities that are wide-ranging and cut across multiple approaches and academic disciplines. Participants will learn about best practices for multiple categories of faculty mentoring and will engage in discussion around opportunities for colleges and universities to implement multifaceted programs of their own.


Developing Leadership Skills through a Faculty Internship Program

Sara Zeigler, Russell Carpenter, John Brent, Jamie Fredericks, Kerem “Ozan” Kalkan, Jessica Lair, Erin Presley, and Matthew Sabin, Eastern Kentucky University
For participants who are new to this topic

This session focuses on strategies for developing individualized leadership skills in faculty. Academic administrators at a variety of levels are often in position to support, mentor, and guide faculty as they prepare for various levels of responsibility within and across the institution. Success in priority areas of teaching, research, and service often take precedence. The importance of faculty leadership skill development, however, is among the greatest needs moving forward, especially at the associate professor and professor levels. The Provost’s Faculty Internship Program at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is designed to develop leadership skills at the university level among faculty. As a complement to the University’s Faculty Leadership Institute (FLI), the program’s goal is to build exceptional leadership by supporting individual faculty development, while enhancing academic culture and capacities. In this session, representatives from the Office of the Provost, along with faculty internship participants, offer practical advice and perspective for program design complemented by reflections and applications. Through this session, participants will reflect on the leadership needs of faculty; explore approaches for expanding leadership skills for faculty through individualized programming; discuss valuable resources and tools for developing individualized leadership skills; and examine the experiences of faculty internship participants and applications for use in a variety of institutional contexts.


The Audacity of a New Leadership: Your Leadership

Josefina Hernandez, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Colleges and universities are confronting new challenges that stem from global and local economy and government hurdles as well as health, research, science, and emerging technology issues. These challenges require audacious leaders that can embrace and create a new leadership that can deliver. Higher education leadership programs must provide comprehensive tangible experiences and competencies that enable future leaders with the capacity to face the unpredictable. Nevertheless, leadership starts within ourselves. We need to understand what are some of the frameworks in the genesis of a new leadership; What are the individual and organizational roadblocks of a new leadership; and what is our individual conceptualization of a new leadership.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Sharing Wisdom: Intentional Self-Care as Leadership Educators of Color

Dar Mayweather, University of North Carolina Wilmington
For participants who are new to this topic

The goal of this session is to provide a space of healing for leadership educators of Color living or working in racialized spaces. This presentation opens an important discussion for POC navigating raceless pedagogy, frameworks, and theories, while constantly being on guard about one’s own experiences and remaining engaged to support students. This is challenging and often discouraging for POC. Through a discussion of race-centered theories and self-care, this presentation aims to refresh and empower leadership educators of Color to remain engaged in their work on campuses across the United States.


Social Justice: A Dimension of University Social Responsibility

Paulette Meikle, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and Lekeitha Morris, Lamar University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

In this session, we examine social justice as an element of university social responsibility (U.S.R.). Second, in response to the realities of structural inequality, we examine leadership strategies for promoting social justice as intentional university platforms. Third, we explore institutional philosophies on empowering university students to be socially just and active citizens. We propose a university social responsibility (U.S.R.) typology for universities with a social justice dimension. This includes supporting inclusive and equitable education for people who have been historically underserved by higher education. We further posit “start at home” as a new perspective on social responsibility related to work climate and environment for faculty, students, and staff from diverse backgrounds.


Sustainability and Student Success through Community Collaboration

Harrison Speck, Findhelp and Carlos Cruz, Dallas College
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Students and the community in which they live are intertwined; both need support for either to thrive. Barriers to student success and graduation, such as housing and food insecurity, are best addressed through community partnerships that promote equity across the student population and lift up communities as a whole. In this session, Dallas College, one of Texas’s largest higher education institutions, and Findhelp, the leading United States social care platform, will share strategies to strengthen collaboration between higher education institutions, cities, and nonprofit organizations to build a data-informed social care ecosystem which supports students, improves completion rates, and benefits the wider community.


Using Faculty Learning Communities in Promoting DEI Teaching Practices

Scott Heinerichs, Zeinab Baba, and Kimberly Johnson, West Chester University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to provide students the knowledge, skills, and abilities to employ the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, most faculty lack experience in conveying this information to students. College-level faculty learning communities (FLC) provide the opportunity to learn discipline specific approaches around areas such as: implicit bias, promoting dialogue around diversity, equity, inclusivity, and facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom. The goals of this session are to engage participants to apply these approaches, provide a framework to be utilized, and discuss lessons learned from the research and one institution’s approach.


Walking the Talk: Equity Minded Leadership

Deborah Bordelon and Annice Yarber-Allen, Columbus State University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Equity-minded leaders create conditions for faculty, staff, and students to thrive, develop, and cultivate their unique gifts, talents, and interests across their academic, professional, and social lives. Through case studies, we ask you to join us in considering several questions: When do we begin a discussion on equity-mindedness? How do we determine whether inequities exist within our organization or unit? What happens when we overlook inequities? What is the best strategy for interrupting inequitable practices? At the end of the session, we hope that participants will walk away better equipped to handle complex situations through an equity lens.

Institutional Culture and Climate

Design Thinking: Using Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation to Build Culture and Community in Academic Departments

Teresa Drake, Patricia Nugent, Melissa Peterson, Amanda Scott, and Shelly Hawkins, Bradley University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Brown (2019) asserts that leaders should consider inspiration, ideation, and implementation in everything they do. Directly pursuing opportunities motivates our search for innovations; trying out and systematically adjusting new ideas supports continuous improvement; and thoughtfully implementing new programs, processes, and policies makes our institutions stronger and more successful. This interactive session will describe how five department chairs within one college used design thinking to build morale, improve collegiality, increase collaboration, and strengthen relationships within and across departments. This presentation focuses on using design thinking to pursue opportunities and goals within and across academic departments. See Special Topics in Academic Leadership for a presentation that focuses on using design thinking to address collegewide challenges. Participants will apply the design thinking strategy to an opportunity or goal they are currently pursuing.


Navigating Microaggressions in the Workplace

Marcine Pickron-Davis and Alicia Hahn-Murphy, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Microaggressions happen everywhere, including at institutions of higher education. Given that people spend the majority of their lives at work, microaggressions in the workplace have a profound impact on people’s mental, spiritual, and even physical health. To foster a positive institutional climate and culture, the Office of Diversity and Community Relations at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine launched “Navigating Microaggressions in the Workplace” training. The training is designed to examine the dimensions of microaggressions, explore the implications of microaggressions, and equip faculty and staff with strategies to navigate the occurrence of microaggressions in the workplace.


The Five Cs: Cultivating Culture and Climate with a Cohesive Community

Tywana Chenault Hemby, Voorhees College
For participants who are new to this topic

The success of a value-added culture and climate is predicated on a leader’s ability to cultivate a cohesive community. Institutions of all shapes and sizes must find engaging ways to respectfully honor the culture of the past while building bridges that support an ever-changing educational climate. The presentation provides an in-depth exploration of the five Cs of creating environments conducive to teaching and learning. Participants will: gain an understanding of cultivation applied in educational settings; explore the historical significance of culture as it pertains to respective campuses; understand the challenges associated with the ever-changing academic climate; examine the nature of cohesion; and understand how cohesion can serve as the foundation for the community that recursively shapes culture and climate.


The Great Resignation as Opportunity to Transform

Joan Poulsen, Indiana University—Purdue University Columbus
For participants who are new to this topic

As we face the Great Resignation how can we as leaders effectively navigate retaining and developing personnel? Due to the global pandemic, many institutions face declines in enrollment, necessitating personnel streamlining. Personnel who remain are often asked to do more, possibly leading to burnout. By understanding cycles of organizational change, and how individuals respond to change, we can retain and develop personnel. Utilizing time-tested strategies, we can resurrect our personnel prepared to face the future.


Universal Trauma-Informed Practices for Higher Education

Kristine Morris, Texas Woman’s University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a critical need for trauma-informed practices in higher education. Although the concept of trauma-informed practice is well established in the literature, institutions frequently lack the financial and human resources necessary to provide the individualized care prescribed for traumatized students. What can we do when everyone needs more than anyone has to give? This interactive session will focus on the need for universal cost-effective, trauma-informed practices that can be implemented on a wide scale. Participants will work in groups to identify campus-level and classroom-level trauma-informed interventions that promote healing while learning without overburdening faculty.

Student Recruitment, Retention, and Success

Empowering Student Success through a CARE Plan

Heather Kooiker and Debbie Bosworth, Davenport University
For participants who are new to this topic

A pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing program at a private university in the Midwest was seeking out solutions to enhance student retention. A tool identified as the CARE (Confidence, Achievement, Responsibility, and Excellence ) Plan was implemented by this nursing program for at-risk students. The at-risk student used the CARE Plan tool as a means to self-assess barriers to success. Based on the areas identified, faculty worked collaboratively with students on both academic and non-academic components. Results were that nursing students took ownership of their academic success and outcomes by participating in a student-centered process that was embedded within the nursing curriculum. This session will explain how thre CARE Plan can be executed in any learning environment.


Power of Speed Mentorship

Prasad Vemala, Robert Morris University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

The goal of this session is to discuss how the speed mentorship program serves as a catalyst to enrich career development for the students in a college setting. During the session, the attendees will understand the idea of speed mentorship, process involved to plan and design such a program, implementation of the event, and key takeaways that helped students at Robert Morris University. The session also covers the value of engaging alumni with current students, the experiences students gain by connecting with professionals in varied roles and organizations, and the impact it creates for students to map their career path. Finally, the session describes how the speed mentorship program is different from other mentorship programs.


Student Mental Health Impact on Recruiting, Retention and Success

Paige Heller, BHS
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Student mental health is a foremost contributing factor influencing institutional success. The follow-on effects of the pandemic and increase in suicide attempts have a profound impact on the community and affect the ability of all higher education institutions to recruit and retain students. In this presentation, attendees will gain an understanding of student mental health as a matter of both individual and institutional well-being; how having a strong mental health support system improves student retention; the impact of having robust mental health resources on recruiting new students; and the key approaches for creating a successful and sustained mental health strategy


The Student Petition Process: Insight into Student Challenges and Solutions

Cheryl Gunter, West Chester University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

This session summarizes student petitions for exceptions to policies reviewed by the author from September 2020 to March 2022, with summaries of the petitions addressed, the exceptions desired, and the reasons for the requests. Session attendees will use these data to inform recommendations about whether adjustments to policies, courses, curricula, or standards are in order and/or whether adjustments to available support systems for students are in order. These data will also enhance session attendees’ awareness of the reasons that petitions should be approved or denied based on the rationales provided by the students.


Using an AI Chatbot: Programmed for Success

Shenah Hartigan, Ocean County College
For participants who are new to this topic

Using a behaviorally intelligent chatbot named Reggie, Ocean County College elicits timely, specific, and actionable student data. This real-time information apprises proactive measures to address individual student needs, adjust program delivery and increase student registration, while maximizing the efficiency and efficacy of academic and student support staff. Attendees will learn how Ocean utilized an AI chatbot to address critical issues of enrollment and retention, and take away implications for practice including strategic implementation and planning, assessment, and continuous improvement.


Data-Informed Decision-Making for Academic Leaders

Craig Hlavac, Southern Connecticut State University
For participants who are new to this topic

Academic leaders are required to make substantive decisions–many of which will significantly impact the lives of both students and faculty. When considering these decisions, determining the relevant facts can be problematic; leaders are inundated with data, and discerning which data to consider and how to analyze it can be difficult. This session will provide participants with insight and practical advice regarding important academic data sources and strategies on how to use these data to inform decision-making. Data specific to student recruitment, admissions, academic achievement (including DFW rates), and student retention will be presented. Actual figures and analyses will be included, and participants will have opportunities to dialogue with both the presenter and one another. Participants will learn and discuss many common data metrics in higher education, especially those related to enrollment management and admissions; consider retention and completion rates for their unit and institution and begin to develop strategies to address them within their division; and dialogue with fellow participants and share best practices.

Special Topics in Academic Leadership

Design Thinking: Using Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation to Address Collegewide Challenges

Jana Hunzicker, Deborah Erickson, Rachel Vollmer, Cara Burritt, and Jessica Clark, Bradley University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Brown (2019) asserts that leaders should consider inspiration, ideation, and implementation in everything they do. Directly addressing problems motivates our search for solutions; trying out and systematically adjusting new ideas supports continuous improvement; and thoughtfully implementing new programs, processes, and policies makes our institutions stronger and more successful. This interactive session will describe how the administrative team in one college used design thinking to manage fast-growing online graduate programs, adapt to centralized business practices, resolve inequities, and craft a rigorous yet achievable strategic plan. This presentation focuses on using design thinking to address collegewide challenges. See the presentation in Institutional Culture and Climate, which focuses on using design thinking to pursue opportunities and goals within and across academic departments. Participants will apply the design thinking strategy to a problem or challenge they are currently facing.


Hot Spots: How Higher Education Institutions Need to Adapt to Reduce Burnout

Gretchen Oltman and Vicki Bautista, Creighton University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Burnout is a frequent topic around workplaces in a post-pandemic world and higher education institutions are not immune from its impact. This session seeks to help leaders understand their own propensity for burnout and to shift some of the responsibility for burnout from the leader to the institution. In this shift, organizations must reconsider how and why some customs and practices lead to employee burnout and how simple adaptations and reimaginations of the workplace can strengthen the entire organization.


Increasing Change Capacity Through Strategic Action

Patrick Farrell, Lehigh University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

We often look at change in higher education as one or more independent efforts to improve our organization. Successful change can depend heavily on an organization’s change capacity—its ability to consider and implement change. In this session we’ll discuss how to identify key strategic actions that begin to make change and can increase your organization’s change capacity for future changes that may be even more ambitious. Participants will walk away with a perspective on how even small change efforts can be part of a larger change capacity strategy along with a little experience in thinking through how that might happen.


Advisory Board Session

Toxic Loneliness and the Academic Department

Robert Cipriano, ATLAS Consulting and Conference Advisory Board member

Humans are highly social and gregarious individuals. A famous line in Roy Orbison’s 1960 hit declares: “Only the lonely know the way I feel tonight.” If Orbison was correct, then a surprising number of college faculty members and administrators today understand precisely how he felt. The sudden pivot from in-person to remote meetings that began in early 2020 with the spread of the COVID-19 virus created numerous challenges, particularly for professors and chairs whose social lives were built largely on interactions with their colleagues. When working from home began to feel more like living (isolated) at work, problems began to arise that affected both the quality of people’s work and their general satisfaction with life. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the nineteenth Surgeon General of the United States, stated that loneliness is a public health concern: “a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today—from alcohol and drug addition to violence to depression and anxiety.” (2020). Researchers have also contributed the current rate of suicides to depression, often caused by loneliness. Toxic loneliness has taken certain faculty members and administrators by surprise. Their entire educational experience has given them a built-in-social community of colleagues whom they’d come to regard as more than colleagues, relationships that the lockdowns and sudden shift from face-to-face activities to online-only classes and meetings seemed to weaken. While truly severe cases of toxic loneliness are best addressed by a qualified professional, academic leaders need to be aware of the possibilities that this condition may exist in their faculty members (or themselves) and take constructive steps to deal with the challenge before the problem becomes even worse. This interactive workshop will determine a knowledge base understanding that academic leaders can use to both acknowledge the problem of loneliness and, more importantly, provide specific strategies to address the many issues inherent in this topic.


Leadership Development Beyond Boundaries: MI ACE Network Lifting Women Higher

Nancy Giardina, Marlene Kowalski-Braun, Michelle Hunt Bruner, Wayne State University; and Andrea Beach, Western Michigan University
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

This session provides participants with a model leadership development program for women in higher education. The Michigan ACE Senior-Level Leadership Development Job Shadow Program draws upon lead practice and innovation to fill a continual gender gap for women in leadership in key roles. The unique aspects of this particular program are built upon values of accessibility, equity, participant agency and collaboration. Participants will walk away with knowledge about current realities and challenges relating to gender equity in higher education, lead practice rationale for programmatic decision making, and specifics about how to adopt or adapt for various contexts.


Advisory Board Session

Promoting Internal Fundraising Efforts: A Collaboration between Academic Affairs and Advancement

Tanjula Petty, Alabama State University
For participants who are new to this topic

Now more than ever leaders are being called upon to solicit funding for the institutions. As state funding dwindles for public institutions colleges and universities have increased their fundraising efforts. Donors today are “impact investors.” Academic leaders are best suited to convince a donor of the impact their gift will make. This presentation will share how the institution transformed its relationship with alumni, boosted the reputation with donors, and created a clear fundraising roadmap for faculty that will have a lasting impact for the institution. The partnership with Academic Affairs and Advancement also led to additional donor gifts to support teaching and learning. This presentation will share how one institution’s partnership strategies led to increased fundraising with faculty.


Strategic Leadership in Online Education Administration in a Rapidly Changing world

Shanta Varma and Xinyue Ren, Auburn University at Montgomery
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Online higher education has gone through various phases of growth and expansion that has impacted the existing online educational model in an unique way globally. It has influenced the areas of pedagogy, course offerings, design and delivery, student engagement, accessibility, and affordability. On the one hand, it made education flexible, inclusive, affordable, and equitable to meet the student needs and on the other, it posed challenges caused by the internal and external forces. In this session, we will discuss challenges and opportunities faced by online administrators and leaders while growing, managing, maintaining quality and providing distance education as an option globally.

Let’s Get Started! What Every New Academic Leader Needs to Know

Coaching Conversations for Academic Leaders: Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others

Susan Robison, Professor Destressor, Susan Robison Associates
For participants who are new to this topic

The interpersonal aspects of academic leadership, e.g., annual reviews, performance evaluations, or other difficult conversations with faculty, can be especially challenging to the inexperienced chair. In this interactive workshop, you will practice several powerful brain-based coaching skills drawn from improv games to increase your skills and confidence for leadership that matters: transformational coaching conversations that build institutional collegiality, civility, and engagement. Participants will apply a structure for shaping such conversations (ASK – assess client motivation, set agenda, keep success continuous) in dyad practice and then to contribute to a facilitator–volunteer demonstration of these skills.


Maximizing Your Communication Toolkit: Tools from Positive and Cognitive Psychology

Shannon Scott, Texas Woman’s University
For participants who are new to this topic

Communication is an essential skill to develop community, address conflict, and motivate others. In this interactive session, we will identify specific techniques from cognitive and positive psychology that can help you to approach communication, even difficult communication, using a strengths-based, positive approach. The audience will practice skills such as active-constructive responding and active, empathic listening. The audience will also practice providing negative feedback positively, making an action request, and setting boundaries. At the end of this session, the audience will be able to utilize listening strategies; identify a boundary response plan; create a positive action request; provide negative feedback positively.


Fundraising Strategies for Academic Department Chairs and Program Coordinators

Craig Hlavac, Southern Connecticut State University

University presidents and academic deans are expected to spend significant portions of their time raising funds for their institution. However, historically it has not been customary for this responsibility to fall to mid-organization leaders—until now. Given the demographic challenges many institutions face coupled with increased competition, enrollments (and revenues) continue to wane. Institutions are reducing operating costs, and departments and programs are being impacted. As a result, department chairs and program directors are more frequently seeking out new revenue streams, including direct fundraising. This session will provide a foundational overview of fundraising specific to chairpersons and directors, including how to coordinate with institutional initiatives, engaging your alumni, stewarding current donors, and developing an advisory board. Participants will analyze their current revenue streams and consider whether seeking new sources of revenue would be advantageous for their unit; understand some basic opportunities for getting started in a development initiative, including who to speak with locally; consider how to engage both alumni and the faculty in fundraising efforts; and begin to develop a list of potential fundraising opportunities they can use when they return to their campus.


Leading In and Through Change

Stephanie Hinshaw, Executive Director, Butler Beyond Transformation, Butler University

We have all heard the saying “the only thing constant is change.” Where the saying may be cliché, it is true and leaders experience change constantly in their work environments. Specifically, higher education leaders are asked to respond to changes in the world (i.e. global pandemics), higher education changes, and change directed by executive leadership at their university. Additionally, most leaders identify desired changes and elect to initiate changes themselves. So, change is constant and something leaders much grapple with and even embrace in their roles. This session explores the different types of changes higher education leaders face and equips them with skills to excel in changing environments. Session attendees will learn strategies that will help them survive, address, and embrace change by using a systems-thinking lens and practical leadership strategies.


Raising Standards while Promoting Equity in Promotion and Tenure Processes

Reenay Rogers, Jerri Ward-Jackson, Jan Miller, and B. J. Kimbrough, University of West Alabama
For participants who have some experience with this topic and are ready to learn more

Mentoring new faculty towards obtaining tenure and promotion is a necessity to ensure quality faculty development and promote a feeling of equity in the process as well as an accomplishment for those who obtain these milestones. When the criteria are ambiguous, faculty can become dissatisfied and promotion and tenure committees unsure of the appropriate decisions. This session will present our institution’s journey from an ambiguous set of criteria for promotion and tenure to a more structured, objective, and rigorous set of criteria. We will share our faculty-driven development process, the criteria we established, and our unique scoring process.