In a recent chairs’ council meeting at my institution, we discussed the job description of department chairs, which had been drafted several years previously. We all agreed that it needed to be updated to reflect their increased workload. In our discussion, two very different mindsets became apparent to me; my own default mindset and the mindset of our chairs, both of which I think are grounded in two very different educational and cultural systems.
Academic Leader Current Issue: March 2018
I spent a decade of my time as a faculty member and academic leader in a very small art college with an enrollment of less than 150. The enrollment was so small and the community so close that I used to joke that one didn’t take attendance in class; rather, you just looked around the room and let people know who had left their lights on in the parking lot and who needed to air up their tires a bit before the drive home.
Early each morning, across the nation, high school-aged students are brought onto college campuses to take classes as part of early college high school programs. In some cases, they arrive a few at a time, hopping out of their cars in whatever traffic loops are available; in others, a school bus drops a long scraggly line of students off for their classes all at once. All of these students have a few things in common—they are adjusting to a new environment, navigating a system quite different from their high school, and earning credits towards their future college career on the campus itself. While dual enrollment classes offered at high schools can have similar benefits to AP classes (tuition saved, credits earned), we believe that high school students being on a college campus has an extra impact, giving students a true taste of college life.
Academic Advisors Need to Better Comprehend College Readiness to Develop Strategies for Student Success
As a means to address the number of citizens with college degrees in the United States, college readiness is a commonly proposed approach toward enhancing student success. This is significant as it has been estimated that “almost two-thirds of all jobs in the [US] . . . require a postsecondary degree.” Most administrators and academic advisors would like to better cognize the level of readiness of incoming students and how this impacts eventual success, especially as more students are attending institutions of higher education than ever before. It is widely accepted that students who enter college with proper reading, writing, time management, and study skills should enjoy higher levels of academic success and eventually graduate.
In Our Underachieving Colleges (2006), Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, challenged higher education institutions to do more in providing an education more supportive of building character in undergraduates. While the number of ethics courses offered has increased, both in professional schools and in undergraduate institutions, many of these courses are electives not requirements. These changes will not get the job done for higher education if it is serious about building character before awarding undergraduate degrees or making professionals see more clearly the wider range of ethical issues they will inevitably have to address as leaders in the larger society beyond their profession.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played a critical role in American higher education since their founding, with many of these institutions tracing their history back to the post-Civil War period and the subsequent second Morrill Act (1890) emphasizing the need for practical education and mandating opportunities for black students. Now, nearly two decades into the 21st century, they continue to be important contributors to the success of students, communities, and the nation.