The Forum for the Future of Higher Education
Curtis J. Clark
HE530: Higher Education Organization & Governance
The “Forum for the Future of Higher Education” presented four major issues that higher education currently face to its conference participants. The issues included; increasing enrollment, budget cuts, expansion of distance learning programs, and institutional accountability. These issues challenge and confound institutions of higher education, especially with the looming budget cuts that they face. This paper will examine the effectiveness of; leadership, decision-making, funding, distance learning, and accountability. Organization and Governance
Governance is a process that permits people to work together (Birnbaum, 1988). When the institution’s governance structure serves its purpose it will encourage those involved to make a difference. If an institution aspires to be productive the principles of organization and governance should be employed. This will enable the respective institution of higher education to operate effectively. Some principles to incorporate in this model are; leadership, structure, and decision making.
Leadership should be treated as something identifiable, tangible, measurable, and efficacious (Birnbaum, p.22, 1988). The study of leadership is more difficult in colleges and universities than in other settings because of dual control systems, conflicts between professional and administrative authority, unclear goals, and the other unique properties of professional, normative organizations (Birnbaum, p.22, 1988). In particular, the relationship between those identified as leaders and those whom they presume to lead is problematic (Birnbaum, p.22, 1988). Colleges and universities need leaders and managers who can turn their visions into reality (McDade, p.1, 1988).
Decisions regarding budgets, curriculum, athletics, and student programs make leaders an essential part of higher education institutions. In higher education, there is a strong resistance to leadership, as it is generally understood in more traditional and hierarchical organizations. It may be more appropriate in most institutions to think of faculty as constituents rather than as followers (Birnbaum, pp. 22 -23, 1988).
In higher education structure is essential to achieve institutional effectiveness. The operation of higher education implements a system to operate institutions. “A system is an organized whole that has two or more interdependent parts (or subsystems) and is separated from its environment by a boundary” (Kast and Rosenzweig, 1973, as cited by Birnbaum, p.30, 1988). Systems are hierarchal; they are made up of smaller systems and are themselves parts of larger systems (Birnbaum, p.30, 1988). Tight and loose coupling are two types of systems used to describe how institutions of higher education are ran. Tight coupling is a systematic relationship between two or more components in which there is little or no “slack in the relationship (Alesch and Holly, p.3, n/d). Loose Coupling refers to connections between organizational subsystems that may be unimportant, or slow to respond (Weick, 1976, as cited by Birnbaum, p.38, 1988). Loose coupling is often been attacked as merely a slick way to describe waste, inefficiency, or indecisive leadership and as a convenient rationale for crawling pace of organizational change (Birnbaum, p.39, 1988). The decision making process is a vital component in the realm of higher education. When decisions are not made for the betterment of the institution, it may cause a divide in the organizational structure. In addition, the institution may experience a turnover in faculty and administration due to the lack of organizational structure. Typically, the constituents who make decisions on behalf of the institution, are; senior level administrators, presidents, and the board of...
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