Academy trains future academic leaders

February 06, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No college degree exists with the specific goal to train individuals to become university presidents and provosts. So how do these leaders learn to do their jobs?

According to Robert Hendrickson, professor of education in higher education and senior scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State, most of the skills needed to become an effective university president or provost can be obtained through a combination of education and various jobs and experiences. However, prospective university presidents and provosts can fine-tune their skills by attending the Penn State Academic Leadership Academy.

“Half of all university presidents and provosts are expected to retire within the next decade,” said Hendrickson, one of the academy’s founders. “This mass exodus of presidents and provosts into retirement will leave higher education with a real leadership void. The Academic Leadership Academy was launched in 2010 with a goal of broadening the size and diversity of the pool of qualified future academic leaders.”

The next academy will convene on June 24, 2012, with participants from all over the country in attendance. The keynote speaker will be Christopher Brown, president of Alcorn State University. His talk, titled “Developing Strong Academic Leaders,” will introduce participants to the importance of cultivating strong academic leaders at multiple levels throughout an institution. Other topics to be covered will include understanding ethical leadership and the law, managing conflict and difficult people, and implementing strategic planning in an engaged institution.

Specifically, the Academic Leadership Academy’s goal is to provide practical administrative knowledge and skills to middle academic leaders so as to help them meet challenges and responsibilities in their administrative roles. The yearlong program with a one-week on-site session and six virtual sessions creates a network of practicing academic administrators who share experiences and seek to solve problems as they assume greater responsibilities within their institutions.

To attend the academy, leaders from around the country must be nominated by their institutions. Last year, 26 people participated in the yearlong program.

“The Academic Leadership Academy has prepared me well to not only find early success in my new administrative role but has accelerated my acquisition of important skill-sets which will allow me to take on additional leadership responsibilities, furthering my capacity to better serve both my institution and higher education in a broader sense,” said Joseph Flaherty, associate professor of biology and director of undergraduate research at Coker College, who attended the academy last year. “Thanks to the strategic selection of the highest quality speakers and the valuable insights and experiences shared across and between program participants, I feel much more prepared to engage a broader spectrum of constituents in a manner that stimulates progress towards achieving solutions.”

To learn more about the Penn State Academic Leadership Academy, go to:

  • Robert Hendrickson, professor of education in higher education and senior scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 08, 2012