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“What I am Working on Today” Blog

Administrative Courage

September 6, 2011

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

On Tuesday morning I will have published an article in Inside Higher Ed whose title explains the content: “12 Ways to Survive 2012 (academic year, that is).”

If you’re interested in that subject matter, visit IHE.

You may disagree with me, but I think higher education is sufficiently funded and that universities can decrease student tuition and increase timely graduation rates if they only stopped honoring the status quo.

I write that successful reform will require courageous administrators and cooperative professors.

But the courage I am working on today is the knowledge that my piece will be widely read and may actually spark reform.

Because of that, some folks may feel threatened by the notion of living within our means.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to educational reform is administrative ambition, not courage. We’re all seemingly looking for the next promotion rather than looking out for faculty and students.

I am fortunate to have known three university presidents who taught me by example that leadership is not a top-down phenomenon. They all, however, reminded me that leadership requires courage.

Embracing that value can be risky, especially if you aspire to higher rank and salary. But it will give you peace of mind one day that you were a true educator whose ambition was to foster learning and serve the public good.

Many of us embraced those values upon entering academe. The goal of any administrator is to leave higher education upon retirement with those values still intact.

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