Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Academic leaders in higher education must increasingly deal with demands from stakeholders such as students, parents, and government at the same time that they are held accountable for the curriculum and student learning environment (Newman, Couturier & Scurry, 2004; Smith, 2004). In addition, new types of higher education institutions, i.e. the for-profit schools, purport to be more agile in responding to the needs of these various constituencies, putting more pressure on the traditional colleges and universities to react more quickly. Gone are the days of unhurried deliberations and incremental changes that could take years to institute. The loosely coupled organizational nature of traditional colleges and universities results in a lack of authority for the very individuals who are responsible for the curriculum and learning environment at the school and department level, the deans and academic chairs (Glassman, 1973; Weick, 1978). Faculty, whose role is to develop curriculum and teach in the classroom, tend to be reluctant change agents and typically prefer that the Chair keep the business of the department running as usual. This makes gaining faculty support for the necessary responses to changing student needs both crucial and difficult.