Conference Tracks

Leadership in Higher Education Conference 2020
Conference Tracks and Descriptions


1. Academic Leadership and Professional Development

Provosts, academic deans, and department chairs are institutional leaders who promote student success and learning outcomes by fostering the highest educational quality in academic programs and research. In their leadership roles, they serve as advocates for their schools and departments; engage in strategic planning; coordinate recruitment and hiring processes to identify faculty talent; and facilitate equitable process-based decision-making including promotion and tenure and compensation. They collaborate with faculty in developing innovative approaches to student learning, identifying needed curricular change, and promoting a positive working and learning environment. They ensure the mentoring of new faculty, facilitate conflict resolution, and provide opportunities for faculty professional development in support of educational goals. In addition, their managerial responsibilities involve oversight of budgets, human resource issues, facilities, and fundraising.

New academic leaders may not have had professional development on specific aspects of their roles and experienced academic leaders will benefit from best practices that enable them to advance student learning and academic excellence. Submissions to this track should focus on building and refining innovative approaches to academic leadership in support of student success; building faculty collaboration; addressing conflict resolution; promoting innovation through research; fostering needed curricular change; mentoring junior faculty; establishing equitable promotion and tenure processes; and building a positive working and learning environment. Submissions to this track can also address new trends or developments in higher education that affect academic leadership.

2. Administrative Leadership and Professional Development

Administrative leaders play an essential role in fostering the success of the institution as a whole by serving as a strategic partner and developing systems, programs, processes, and policies that strengthen the working environment, support student success, optimize resources, and enhance organizational effectiveness. In this capacity, they have broad responsibility for ensuring equitable processes and outcomes across the administrative continuum. Their leadership role includes planning and directing complex administrative functions; advising on legal, financial, capital improvement, and human resource matters; recruiting and hiring talented administrators and staff; negotiating contractual agreements; and implementing solutions to a wide range of issues. Among their responsibilities are the development of institution-wide programs that address the skills and competencies needed for a competitive twenty-first century workforce. As change agents, they foster systematic organizational learning through professional development in support of the institution’s academic mission. Depending on organizational structure, typical areas of responsibility include student affairs, information technology, legal services, human resources, financial services, facilities management, and auxiliary services.

3. Diversity and Inclusion

Higher education administrators are working to implement holistic programs to accommodate today’s diverse students, faculty and staff. This track will allow higher education professionals to present and share the ways they are responding to the various needs of students (e.g., housing and food insecurities, mental health concerns, neurodiversity, sexual identity, disabilities, immigration concerns, racism). Presentations may also address how colleges are supporting diverse staff and faculty and making the institutions places that can retain diverse employees. Submissions to this track should focus on practices that promote inclusion and diversity of thought to examine real-world problems.

4. Program and Department Evaluation and Assessment

It is of great importance for departments to constantly and consistently evaluate and assess their programs. Departments must have the flexibility, determination, and will to modify their program to meet the ever-evolving changes.

Evaluation and assessment are important issues for academic leaders, as states, accrediting bodies, students, and parents all look for evidence of quality. Academic leaders must understand how to work with accreditors, identify trends in state assessment and compliance, and carry out strategic planning for evaluation and assessment. This track will include best practices, proven strategies, and models for designing and executing an evaluation plan.

5. Faculty Hiring, Development, and Assessment

How do we recruit and support faculty throughout their careers? This track considers the tools, resources, programs, behaviors, and leadership skills needed to hire, promote and sustain a vibrant and engaged faculty across ranks, disciplines, and institutional settings. Submissions to this track should address issues related to faculty development, assessment, mentoring, promotion and tenure, annual reviews, coaching, or other topics related to academic personnel and their concerns.

6. Institutional Culture and Climate

The culture of a university consists of the set of values that helps the university's faculty, staff, students, and administrators understand which actions are considered acceptable and which actions are considered unacceptable. Climate looks at the present moment: what is the atmosphere like for members of the faculty, staff, students, and administrators? Culture has an historical basis: who we are and what are our values on the basis of where we have been?

Academic leaders must foster a known set of values indicating their importance to key stakeholders in order to facilitate the operational efficiency of the university. This track will include presentations on managing and improving institutional culture and climate and dealing with the problems that arise at the department and college level.

7. Special Topics in Academic Leadership

With the complexity of leadership roles and responsibilities at different institutions, sometimes our work doesn’t fit neatly into a single category. This track examines implications of technology, recruitment and retention, effective budgeting, fundraising and development, legal and regulatory issues, pedagogy, or the future of higher education. Submissions for this track can bridge multiple other topical areas or represent a topic not clearly defined in another track, such as implications of technology, recruitment and retention, effective budgeting, fundraising and development, legal and regulatory issues, pedagogy, or the future of higher education. Submissions for this track must make distinct connection to the roles of academic leaders.