Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

NextUp: Intentional Faculty Leadership Development for All Ranks and Disciplines

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

NextUp: Intentional Faculty Leadership Development for All Ranks and Disciplines

Article excerpt

IN SPRING 2015, the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Center for Faculty Leadership solicited applications for a new program, intended to fill a troubling gap. For several years, we had noticed incoming department chairs expressing increasing surprise at some elements of their new roles and of the structure and operations of the university-even among new department chairs who had worked here for many years as faculty members. Increased turnover in the chair position has meant that we have more new campus leaders each year, and more colleagues in those positions who are struggling to adapt to the unfamiliar demands of their new roles. We created a program to equip faculty members for their first leadership positions before-even long before-they attend New Chairs' Orientation. We broadened our reach because we were witnessing this same struggle in other types of leadership positions as well: NextUp is intended for all faculty who believe that they will at any point in their careers want to take on academic leadership roles of any kind and would like to prepare intentionally. Consulting with a faculty member in our Department of Education Leadership, we adapted the Social Change Model of Leadership Development from the Higher Education Research Institute to meet our needs.

Sixty faculty members have taken part in the program to date, representing 28 disciplines across every academic division in our institution. The first cohort of 23 NextUp Faculty Leadership Development Fellows, all tenured or tenure-eligible faculty, began the program in August 2015. They completed eight modules together over the academic year and took a trip to our state's university system headquarters. Each participant also completed an individual leadership project and reflection on the experience. For the 2016-17 academic year, we expanded to all ranks of faculty, recognizing the changes in potential leadership responsibilities for our non-tenure-eligible full-time faculty, while intentionally reducing the size of the cohort to 18. For our third cohort, 19 NextUp Fellows began the program in 2017-18.

The following essay details the purpose and origin of the program, its structure and curriculum (including both the Social Change Model curriculum and our reliance upon the Forte Institute's Communication Style Profile), eligibility requirements and membership, the specifics of the leadership project and the accompanying mentoring, and the field trip details. In addition, we will share data from survey assessments and individual participants' reflections in its first two years, and offer information about the prompts used for the leadership project and reflection.

NextUp is a pragmatic program that could be adapted for other institutions easily. It relies heavily on existing resources, keeping expenses low and ensuring variety and interaction. Of the 41 faculty members who have completed the program, we count four new department chairs and one new university-wide program director among our alumni. In addition, at least thirteen NextUp Fellows have become program directors, officers for disciplinary organizations, or taken other leadership positions. That nearly 45% of our graduates have already taken academic leadership positions is especially surprising as the program serves those who are contemplating academic leadership at any point in their careers, not necessarily immediately. Our NextUp Fellows are also being sought by our university's upper administration to serve in institutionally important roles like our accreditation review committees. It is clear that preparation for academic leadership roles is an asset not only for the individuals who receive the preparation, but for the universities that offer it.

What We Know about Faculty Leadership Programs

The lament that department chairs do not receive adequate training is at least as old as 1982 (Booth) and presumably much older. Gmelch and Miskin (2004) and Caroll and Wolverton (2004), along with a parade of more recent voices (Aziz et al. …

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