Plea to Next and New HBCU Presidents

By Stevenson, Joseph | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, February 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Plea to Next and New HBCU Presidents


Stevenson, Joseph, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Due to the high turnover rates of HBCU presidents throughout the United States, I feel compelled to share my views. Based on my thirty years of experience in the academic business, and having worked for many presidents during that tenure, I would like to make a plea to both aspiring and newly appointed presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The forthcoming is about oscillatining from the now to the next to the new on behalf of our unique and unifying enterprise.

First, although our original mission for newly freed slaves and subsequent civil fights should remain as part of our historical incubation, it is now time to bridge that mission with a more modern one that focuses on the future and less on the past. Social justice should remain central to our mission, but within a larger context of global diversity, which expands civil rights to human rights, environmental justice, public health and global poverty.

Second, we must continue to think more long-term and not continue with the complacency of short-term solutions to our compelling institutional challenges. This is particularly important with regard to accreditation, where we tend to prepare only one year in advance, as opposed to embracing accreditation as a process for assessing continuous quality improvement.

Third, in too many cases, we tend to resist, and in fact, resent change, yet many of us came to academe to make societal change in a world that continues to be unfair, imbalanted, unequal and inequitable. We must now position ourselves to not only create change, but coordinate strategies to make positive change happen on behalf of our larger human community.

Fourth, the leadership style of our administrators on campus should reflect less time on maintaining the way things are to moving things to the next level in what has become a fiercely competitive marketplace. Effective administrators and faculty have the ability to motivate people, manipulate processes and manage programs. Unit heads must also move from a "solo" managerial style to a synergistic style that engages in and embraces interdependent teaming.

Fifth, our mindset in many cases has been closed in the classroom. Our faculty must become more open-minded to teaching what students need to learn, as opposed to what faculty want to teach. We need more online classes taught from the real life, relevant principles of contemporary and modern and andragogy (adult learning).

Sixth, our administrative infrastructures on campus need to be less hierarchical with out-dated managerial styles that are autocratic and authoritarian. In the modernization process, our institutions need to be less vertical and more horizontal to support genuine shared governance and circular, conciliatory communication to both internal publics and external stakeholders.

Seventh, sequential tasking as opposed to simultaneous tasking can help facilitate the monitoring of student points of progress on a monthly, semester or quarterly basis. …

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