Helping faculty lead in and out of the classroom

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Community college provosts and presidents are well aware of the need to invest in committed faculty and faculty development.

With the increased scrutiny on success rates, particularly for colleges with large populations of minority students, it is paramount that faculty be engaged in making sure students are learning beyond their own classroom. One area of faculty development that often gets overlooked is leadership development. Leadership development for faculty is often seen as training for administration, as if being a dean or department chair is the only worthwhile goal of such efforts.

But leadership doesn’t depend on a title, and faculty are already leaders. They lead in their classrooms, departments and colleges. They coordinate introductory courses, work with the department’s adjuncts, run programs and advise student groups. In order for the nation’s colleges to dramatically improve student success, administrators must invest in and work with faculty to further develop and strengthen pedagogical leadership.

This excerpt comes from the June/July issue of AACC’s Community College Journal. Read the entire issue online.

With multiple faculty roles in mind, in 2016 Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) created a faculty leadership development program that is informed by positive organizational development research and has as a primary goal to advance equity and a culture of care across the campus, both to eliminate equity gaps for students and ensure a community in which all members can thrive — faculty, staff and students.

One of the guiding principles of the program is also key to our strategic planning efforts: all students can learn under the right conditions. Collectively, it is our responsibility at the college to create those conditions. Also key to our strategic goals is the deep analysis of classroom pedagogy, what works, and opening the doors to teaching and learning.

A diverse faculty is necessary to serve a diverse student body. The faculty at BMCC is very diverse, and 12 of the 19 academic departments are chaired by women, and nine are chaired by people of color. Ultimately, the Faculty Leadership Fellows Program was created to develop the skills of faculty in a multitude of leadership roles, including but not exclusively, current department chairs and those who are interested in chair positions. So far, the program has been offered three times, and has engaged more than 40 participants.

How it works

The Faculty Leadership Fellows program includes a week-long seminar in January in which national leaders are invited to present on models of transformative change in community colleges, developing compassionate workplaces, and culturally responsive pedagogy (among other topics). Five follow-up sessions throughout the spring semester are held on specific topics generated by the participants.

A key feature of the curricular design is to engage the fellows in developing follow-up session agendas, materials, presentation and discussion facilitation. Additionally, guided self- reflection plays a role in the program. Both of these strategies contribute to fellows’ evolving narratives as faculty leaders and the development of a theory and practice of pedagogical leadership.

Read the full article.

About the Author

Karrin Wilks
is interim president at Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York.