The boards, faculties, and staffs of our campuses are still overwhelmingly white and male. Few of our institutions are truly pluralistic. Leadership development efforts can contribute to the diversification of the talent pool in several ways.
Identifying promising women and minority administrators
Here again, the first place to look for talent is on campus. Are there faculty members who can take a leadership role in the faculty or be groomed for administrative positions? Are there mid-level administrators or entry-level professionals who could handle more responsibility with or without additional training or educational preparation? A frequent obstacle to identifying able women and minority administrators and staff is the difficulty we have in moving people out of their professional boxes and providing opportunities for them to develop new expertise. Research shows that women and minorities usually are evaluated and promoted based on past accomplishments, while white men tend to be evaluated and promoted based on perceptions of future potential. Professional development opportunities provide a way to turn accomplishments into potential.
Supporting different styles and perspectives
As institutions make serious efforts to become more diverse, the members of the campus community must learn to adjust to a different environment. They must become aware of their attitudes and the assumptions that govern their conduct, and some behaviors must change. Changing behaviors involves educating people and making them aware of the adjustments required to work with those who have different perspectives, life experiences, expectations, and assumptions. To assume that this can occur spontaneously, in the normal course of business, is to underestimate the magnitude of the task.
Helping faculty and administrators serve new populations of students
Increasingly, college students are older, are attending part time, or are minorities. If institutions are to serve the needs of this new majority, they must change what they teach and how they teach it, as well as the administrative structures that support learning. This requires readjusting definitions and expectations and learning how to operate in a different environment.
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