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Personal Growth

The Higher-Education Leadership Vacuum

American universities face tougher challenges than ever before but it is rare that a bold leader emerges from the academic ranks. How can higher-education overcome its crisis? 

What’s the Latest Development?

The cost of university education has risen steadily and now voices are rising against the trend. Businesses, too, complain that too many students leave college without the necessary skill set to compete in today’s rapidly evolving economy. But who is prepared to make necessary changes to these institutions so well-steeped in tradition? Paul Portney, former dean at the University of Arizona, says the skill set of an effective leader is just the opposite of what one needs to flourish in the academic environment. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Will American universities be able to adapt to changing demands and remain the envy of the world, or will their conservative curricula and rising prices push them toward irrelevancy? Portney says leaders are needed to shift college faculty from research-driven tenure-seekers to ones who focus more on teaching. “We’ll need [leaders] to close small departments and even colleges so as to invest in stronger ones. We’ll need them to merge traditional means of teaching with web- and perhaps even social media-based teaching methods,” he says.

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