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Why Invest in Leadership Development?

December 30, 1899

 

​According to their catalogs and mission statements, most colleges and universities aim to develop leaders for society through the educational process. A variety of programs and co-curricular activities provide students with academic and experiential learning opportunities that are designed to expand their awareness of leadership issues and test their own leadership abilities. Discussions of how institutions can foster in their students a commitment to civic responsibilities and leadership are taking place with renewed intensity. Colleges and universities also play an active role in developing leaders for the corporate world and the government. They offer institutes, summer programs, and collaborative activities with employers to enhance the skills and abilities of corporate managers and executives.

But what about developing leaders for higher education? Ironically, we pay little attention to enhancing the ability of administrators and faculty to lead our institutions; the priority appears low and our investment modest. The corporate sector, on the other hand, spends over $56 billion a year on training.[ Surely, higher education—a $260 billion enterprise—should not consider leadership development less important than the corporate sector does. People are the most important resource in higher education. A campus may devote as much as 80 percent or more of its operating budget to personnel. Yet institutions invest little in the development of these valuable human resources, and when times get tough, funds for faculty and administrative development are among the first casualties. Like deferred maintenance of the physical plant, inattention to human resource development is expensive in the long run.

A college or university is as dynamic as its board, faculty, and staff; an organization is its people. Investing in people—providing opportunities for leadership development and professional growth—is an investment in the institution. This toolkit provides resources that accentuate the benefits of leadership development to both the individual and institution, and strategies by which institutions can promote leadership development of faculty and administrators.

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