Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Enhancing Agency through Leadership Development Programs for Faculty

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Enhancing Agency through Leadership Development Programs for Faculty

Article excerpt

"Developing agency requires time and effort. It requires thought, reflection, learning through trial and error, creativity, continuing assessment, and no doubt, persistence and courage" (Neumann, Terosky, & Schell, 2006, p115).

IN THIS QUOTE BY SCHOLARS who study the faculty career, an observation is made about the challenges of developing and asserting agency in everyday faculty life. Despite the fact that most faculty were trained and socialized over many years for the faculty role, they still find it requires them to summon agency to continue growing throughout their careers. Imagine then the agency required of life-long scholars who wish to move into leadership positions. Many have spent their career in research and teaching, and not had opportunities to learn the skills expected of academic leaders. Transitioning to an area where they lack expertise could be daunting, even prohibitive. Yet with a desire to diversify the academy and cultivate more faculty leaders (DeZure, Shaw, & Rojewski, 2014; Johnson, 2016), it is critical that some faculty assume agency to develop new skills and take on important leadership roles.

There are a number of national leadership development programs for senior faculty that provide training, skills, and shadowing experience to emerging leaders, but often they are concentrated programs held at remote locations that can be time, geographically, or cost prohibitive (Chibucos & Green, 1989; McDade, 1987; White, 2012). Campus-based programs that provide local context and networks over a longer duration are also effective methods of faculty leadership development, yet less research has examined such programs (see for exceptions Hornsby, Morrow-Jones, & Ballam, 2012; Kiel, 2015). In this paper, we examine a campus-based leadership development program for mid-career and senior faculty and analyze the programmatic elements that enhance agency for participants.

Guiding Perspectives

Our examination was guided by theories of agency in the social sciences (Alkire, 2005; Archer, 2003; Bourdieu, 1985; Marshall, 2000) as applied to faculty careers and collective leadership experiences (Kiyama, Lee, & Rhoades, 2012; Neumann et al., 2006; O'Meara, Terosky, & Neumann, 2008; Terosky, O'Meara, & Campbell, 2014). Agency refers to taking strategic actions, or assuming perspectives, or ways of thinking, to accomplish goals (O'Meara, 2015; Terosky et al., 2014). Agency is specific to and can differ across areas of work and life (Archer, 2003; Marshall, 2000). For example, one might feel significant agency as a scholar based on disciplinary training and success in writing, yet feel little agency as an academic leader due to lack of experience with and knowledge of budgets and supervision. For purposes of this paper, we refer to faculty agency as academic leaders.

Agency emerges from inside individuals but can be constrained by structural and cultural aspects of their respective environment (Marshall, 2000; O'Meara, 2015). In their work on faculty grassroots leadership, Kezar and Lester (2011) highlight variables that inhibit faculty agency as leaders, including lack of prior involvement in shared governance, socialization to the faculty role as opposed to administrator, a desire to avoid group conflict, constrained professional development resources, and a general feeling of being "overburdened" and not having time to learn new skills (p. 122). Research suggests the ability to garner and activate agency depends on resources available (Marshall, 2000). Thus providing faculty resources, training, and networks may help mid-career and senior faculty enhance agency to become academic leaders, despite these barriers (Kezar & Lester, 2011; McDade, Richman, Jackson, & Morahan, 2004; O'Meara & Stromquist, 2015; White, 2012).

The ADVANCE Leadership Fellows Program (ALFP) at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) is a yearlong professional development program for mid-career and senior faculty aspiring to or recently engaged in leadership roles. …

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