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Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education


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Table of Contents

Foreword—Doug Lederman Preface Acknowledgments 1. Challenges, Opportunities, and a Vision for Change A Critical Role for Leaders at This Moment in Time Leading Change Understand and Leverage the Dynamics of Change Lead Collaboratively and Engage Colleagues Collaborative Leadership in Higher Education A Clear and Shared Organizational Vision EHE. The Framework and Components Priorities for Change, Collaborative Leadership, and Innovation Looking Ahead 2. Adopting a Systems Perspective The EHE Framework The Systems Perspective Basic Concepts Application Attributes of the EHE Approach Looking Ahead 3. Leading Collaboratively Making Sense of Leadership Evolving Conceptions of Leaders and Leadership The Inseparability of Leadership and Followership Leadership Competencies Leadership Communication Basics Particular Challenges and Opportunities for Leaders in Higher Education Leadership. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 4. Formulating and Implementing Strategies and Plans Why Strategic Planning? Why Collaborative Planning? Essential Planning Considerations Process Considerations Implementation Engagement and Shared Ownership Purposes, Plans, and Planning. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 5. Communicating with and Engaging Stakeholders The Impact of Stakeholder Focus Stakeholder Relationships Stakeholder Communication Learning From Stakeholders Prioritizing Stakeholder Groups Stakeholder Feedback Systems Beneficiary and Constituency Relationships. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 6. Evaluating Programs, Services, and Processes Mission-Critical Programs and Services Operational and Support Services Mission Clarity Alignment and Change Disruption, Crises, and Innovation The Role of Processes in Program and Service Effectiveness Process Analysis Program, Service, and Process Benchmarking Programs and Services. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 7. Focusing on Faculty, Staff, and Culture Faculty and Staff. Differentiated Group Identities with Shared Institutional Purposes Evolving Roles Complex and Evolving Concepts of Workplace Organizational Culture and Climate College and University Cultures and Climates More Fundamental Issues of Culture, Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Faculty, Staff, and Workplace Culture/Climate. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 8. Tracking Progress and Outcomes Primary Themes A Topic of Increasing Attention in All Sectors Increasing Support for Assessment Practices Steps in Assessing Progress and Outcomes Institution-Level Assessment Evaluating Academic Departments and Programs Evaluating Administrative and Service Departments Comparisons and Benchmarking Assessment Environmental Monitoring The Critical Role of Information and Information Systems Assessment and Analysis. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 9. Using Information to Guide and Sustain Change The Concept of Continuous Looping Feedback Systems The Value of Documentation and the Systemic Use of Outcomes Information Documentation and Display Prioritization Addressing Improvement Priorities Summarizing Outcomes Documentation and Uses The Continuing Process Applications and Case Studies Outcome and Achievement. A Summary of Key Themes Looking Ahead 10. Implementing the Excellence in Higher Education Framework for Continuous and Transformative Change The Purposes and Structure of this Defining Scope, Boundaries, and Purposes Creating an Organizational Profile A Summary of Core EHE Themes and Priorities in Each Category Component 1. Leadership Component 2. Purposes and Plans Component 3. Beneficiary and Constituency Relationships Component 4. Programs and Services Commponent 5. Faculty, Staff, and Workplace Culture/Climate Component 6. Assessment and Analysis Component 7. Outcomes and Achievements Looking Ahead 11. The Way Forward Challenges and Opportunities Planned Change, Collaborative Leadership, and Shared Vision. Three Interrelated Concepts in Principle and Practice Complexities of Change Collaborative Leadership. Benefits Come with Challenges Leadership Roles. An Ensemble Cast Required Leadership Lenses. Zooming as a Core Competency Pursuing Organizational Aspirations. Increasing Attention to Institutional Effectiveness and Performance Looking Back and Looking Forward In the End About the Author Index

About the Author

Brent D. Ruben is a distinguished professor in communication at Rutgers University, where he also serves as senior university fellow, advisor for strategy and planning in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and was the founder of the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership. He is also a member of the faculties of the Rutgers PhD program in higher education and the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. Brent is author or co-author of numerous publications in communication, organizational leadership, planning, assessment, and change, including Excellence in Higher Education Guide (Stylus, 2016), What Leaders Need to Know and Do (National Association of College and University Business Officers, 2006), and Communication and Human Behavior (Kendall Hunt, 2020). Ruben was a founder of the Rutgers Department of Communication, and first PhD program director of the School of Communication and Information. He was a founder and first president of the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in Higher Education (NCCI), served as Rutgers inaugural liaison and is a frequent contributor to the Big Ten Academic Alliance leadership programs, and serves as an adviser to colleges and universities has and nationally and internationally.


From the Foreword: "This book provides indispensable guidance for those who are now—or envision themselves in the future—helping these all-important institutions navigate an uncertain future."Doug Lederman, Editor and Co-founder, Inside Higher Ed“Leaders with skills to help their teams and ultimately higher education organizations harness the richness of diverse individuals, ideas, and talent will be critical for future innovation and transformational change. These leadership competencies matter, whether engaging diverse colleagues in establishing shared aspirations and goals or addressing inequities or fostering inclusive environments. The more the people feel included, the more they are likely to be satisfied and the more likely they are to engage and collaborate — all of which ultimately lifts individual and organizational performance. The value of these ideas is incorporated in this book through the excellence in higher education framework, particularly on issues of culture, inclusion, diversity, and community.”Sangeeta Lamba, MD, MS-HPEd, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences“As higher education works to address many challenges, including those of access, affordability, and public trust, the importance of thoughtful and effective leadership is clear. In this insightful book, Brent Ruben provides valuable guidance to both seasoned and aspiring leaders, including those in informal leadership roles. His well-placed emphasis on values, culture, relationships, and communication provides a critical foundation for making inclusive and sustainable change across higher education. The concluding chapters offer a useful framework for implementing and evaluating efforts to make change at every level. The just-in-time arrival of Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education will help faculty and staff leaders to make needed and lasting contributions to colleges and universities across the country.”Catherine Shaw, Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, University of Michigan“Dr. Brent Ruben’s five-plus decades of experience at all levels of higher education leadership come together in this timely work that speaks as strongly to department chairs and program directors as it does to university presidents and provosts. With adeptness few others can match, Ruben synthesizes knowledge about institutional change, collaborative leadership, implementation and assessment, organizational communication, and models of excellence in higher education. The end result is a book that not only contributes to our scholarly understanding of these issues but also provides higher education leaders with practical guidance in navigating the increasingly complex landscape in which we find ourselves.”Craig R. Scott, John T. Jones, Jr., Centennial Professor and Communication Studies Department Chair, The University of Texas at Austin“Once euphemistically described as ‘ivory towers,’ higher education institutions and academic health centers cannot claim to be immune to the far-reaching changes we are seeing across our society. Challenged by financial pressures, social inequality, the pandemic, and increasing demands and expectations from internal and external stakeholders, academic health leaders must learn to embrace change and more importantly learn to manage change in a dynamic environment. Having implemented the theory-based programming developed by Brent Ruben and his colleagues, I can attest that leaders, and their constituents, at every level across Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences have benefited. As our post COVID-19 societal landscape begins to form, leaders across academic medicine would be wise to adapt to their own institutions the principles of embracing change, developing collaborative leadership, and sharing a vision for organizational purpose.”Brian L. Strom, Chancellor Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, and the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University.“Faced with a perfect storm of social, financial, political, and even health-related factors, higher education and its institutions find themselves at a point of inflection – a point that begs us to reimagine all aspects of teaching, research, and the student experience. It also creates an opportunity and challenge to identify and grow transformational leaders to engage in rapid planned change rather than relying on the glacial pace of inevitable or evolutionary change. In this book, Brent Ruben describes the Excellence in Higher Education model which provides an organizational gestalt and offers realistic guidance on dealing with the complexity of our institutions. Importantly, the framework also encourages leaders to engage stakeholders in identifying opportunities for excellence and efficiency. Brent provides a structured framework for both change management and leadership development that serves as a valuable guide for campus leaders charged with defining and cultivating the future direction of their institutions and programs. As I concluded my reading of this book, I realized that I had spent the better part of 40 years figuring out what I could have understood in short order just by reading this book!”Richard R. Burnette III, Associate Provost for Strategy and Analytics and Interim Chief Information Officer, Florida State University“This book provides a framework, practices, and behaviors to help leaders make sense of the dynamic, complex nature of higher education and to take intentional and responsive actions to drive change. Ruben’s emphasis on leveraging social capital for lasting results is particularly relevant. That collective wisdom often goes untapped, and yet it is a university’s superpower!”Sarah L. Collie, Associate Vice President for Organizational Excellence, University of Virginia“As a long-time student of organizational change, I have always been particularly intrigued by the challenges to change faced by education and healthcare institutions. Both institutions generally have siloed structures, very decentralized decision-making, and highly educated staff with professional expertise that is unrelated to organizational improvement and strategic innovation. For these reasons, organizational innovation is particularly hard to achieve. A mindset is needed that fosters creation of a shared vision, commitment by senior leadership, an environment of collaboration, a bias toward action, and a reliance on measurable goals and outcomes. If you realize the need for change, a guiding framework is provided by the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its adaptation to higher education through the Excellence in Higher Education Framework, with its specific guidance for higher education leaders and institutions. The compelling argument for change is the responsibility of leaders.”Harry Hertz, Director Emeritus, Baldrige Performance Excellence Program"Brent Ruben's insights on organizational change and Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) have inspired and guided many leaders in colleges and universities globally to embrace the challenges of leading their organizations to new pinnacles. The integration of a framework for achieving excellence along with illustrations of the models for orchestrating change in the challenging environment of academic institutions, using fundamentals of collaborative leadership principles and practices, is a brilliant collection of must-read material for anyone seeking to transform an academic institution, department, or program. Importantly, the work draws upon principles and practices developed and validated in other organizational settings and adapted to the specialized culture and traditions of higher education. Recognized for his impressive portfolio of contributions to this topic and developed from years of research and practice in supporting successful change initiatives, Dr. Ruben shares invaluable lessons and guidance for leaders in higher education endeavoring to move their organizations forward against the headwinds of newly emerging challenges facing academic institutions.”Denis Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Management & Global Business Department, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick; and Former Vice President of Process Excellence, Worldwide Corporate Headquarters, Johnson & Johnson“Since my first reading of Brent Ruben’s foundational book, Quality in Higher Education, twenty-three years ago, he has been an ever-present influence and benchmark for cutting-edge thoughts and actions regarding improvement of higher education administration. This most recent publication, Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education, is an exemplary capstone to a prolific career. Extending his work with Excellence in Higher Education (EHE), this book addresses major higher education challenges such as: creating a vision for change; operating from a systemic perspective; leveraging the power of collaboration; and, most importantly, making improvements sustainable. Finally, this volume identifies a plethora of highly relevant resources that those interested in expanding their knowledge and understanding of higher education administrative excellence will find invaluable.”Ron T. Coley Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services, University of California-Riverside (retired)“In Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education, Brent Ruben builds upon his work with the Baldrige/Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) model. Within our School, we witnessed first-hand how the framework provides an excellent foundation for accreditation, strategic planning, and adaptation to an evolving landscape. The EHE model and categories aligned very well with the standards of the accreditation framework—emphasis placed in both on leadership structures and practices; a clear a shared sense of mission, aspirations and goals; program quality assessment; data gathering from student and alumni communities, benchmarking other schools; and identifying results and trends—and using the information on outcomes for planning and continuous improvement. The concepts continue to serve our School exceptionally well as the basis for pursuing key improvement needs and planning for years to come.”Joseph A. Barone, Dean and Distinguished Professor of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University“Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education is a compelling book that will guide and inspire all leaders at all levels in your institution. Brent Ruben, using long standing principles and practices, has put together excellent resources that will assist leaders in moving through their journey to success. If you are unsure about how to move your organization forward, this book will help you find the way.”Cindy Taylor, Assistant Vice-President for Human Resources, Carleton University“A great irony is that while higher education offers courses and degrees for developing leaders in business, health, arts, government, and…education, it does very little to prepare and develop its own leaders. Adding to the irony is that higher education institutions splay of functions and stakeholders makes leading colleges and universities more complex than leadership in most sectors. Brent Ruben has done a great deal to address this gap. This book is a culmination of his work dedicated to providing higher education leaders with a model for leading their departments, schools, and universities. Nowhere else is there a leadership approach grounded in a proven international model, customized specifically for the higher education culture by a distinguished scholar, and adopted by literally hundreds of academic units and institutions around the world.”Maury Cotter, Director Emeritus, Strategy and Improvement, the;University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Co-founder and Past-President of Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in Higher Education (NCCI)“As a healthcare professional engaged in leadership in higher education, I can say that this book is must-reading for all faculty seeking guidance and wisdom in meeting the challenges in today's complex, rapidly changing environments. Dr. Ruben's clearly written and well-organized text covers the absolute essentials of implementing change through collaborative leadership. The days of the rugged individualist leading change are long gone, and those seeking to implement long lasting sustainable change adapting to the new learner and scholarship landscape would do well to adhere to the principles and practices outlined in this book. Presenting a wealth of proven methods and approaches, Dr. Ruben's text is a positive contribution to outlining paths to success in higher education.”Alfred F. Tallia, Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University; and Chair, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)

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