Tomorrow's Academic Careers
The posting below describes a new organization, Brighter Higher Ed, that provides professional development advice to faculty, particularly those interested in transferring to administrative roles. It is by Dr. Terri E. Givens, the author of several books and articles on immigration policy, antidiscrimination politics and comparative race politics. A Stanford alum, she is also a former vice-provost (UT Austin) and Provost (Menlo College). Her new book, Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides, will be available on February 25, 2021.
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Tomorrow’s Academic Careers
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A Brighter Day for Higher Education
My career in higher education started when I was a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As a first generation college-goer, I was eager to learn how to do research and what it meant to be a faculty member. Graduate school had its bumps, but I felt very lucky to land my first job as a college professor at the University of Washington in 1999. That first year was challenging, my first time running my own classroom, and managing a research agenda to keep me on track to getting tenure. Even at this point in my career, I realized that it was difficult to get the kind of professional development I felt that I needed to be successful as a faculty member.
When I moved on to the University of Texas (UT) at Austin in 2003, I was fortunate to have several mentors take me under their wing. With their help and guidance, I found myself starting a Center for European Studies during my second year at UT, and then being promoted to Vice Provost for undergraduate curriculum and international affairs in 2006. I stayed in the position for three years – the first year was like drinking from a firehose as I learned the ins and outs of life in the provost’s office. I returned to the faculty after three years, so I could focus on getting promoted to full professor, however, it was always in the back of my mind that there should be a better way to get professional development, particularly for faculty making the transition to administrator. I left UT in 2015 to become the Provost at Menlo College in Atherton, CA, happy to return to the Bay Area, where I had been an undergraduate at nearby Stanford University.
In July of 2018 I left my position as Provost at Menlo College to pursue a new path. After several months of consulting, in February of 2019, I founded the Center for Higher Education Leadership (CHEL). The goal of CHEL was to create a platform where faculty and administrators could come together to learn and share best practices, not only about the transition from faculty to administrator, but also about topics like the latest in educational technology, strategic planning, diversity, and the financial issues many colleges are facing. As we built the organization, we learned a great deal from those who participated in our courses and webinars. With the onset of the pandemic, we shifted focus and had a series of webinars designed to provide the latest information on a variety of topics around the closure of campuses, the spread of the virus, online learning and wellness.
Over the summer, we considered rebranding The Center for Higher Education Leadership, as the pandemic brought to the fore many of the issues in higher ed that had been simmering for a long time. I wanted to focus on how we could help institutions as we all faced a series of existential crises from a pandemic, to an economic downturn. I have always been bullish on the prospects for higher education, despite the fact that I could see a clear need for change. Innovation and agility will be required as we all face a new landscape that is already challenging the status quo. We became Brighter Higher Ed https://brighterhighered.com to support higher ed in a new era.
Higher education will be needed more than ever as students face a changing job market, and learners of all ages learn to pivot to new careers. I believe that our organization can play a leading role in creating a brighter future for higher education and the learners who will be relying on us. We need to create options that are affordable, flexible and relevant to the future of work.
It’s time for higher ed leaders to work together to find the solutions that will allow them not only to survive the current crisis, but to thrive. We are expanding our offerings to help leaders not only manage issues like strategic planning, but also issues like diversity, equity and inclusion. We are expanding our mentoring program so that leaders have opportunities to share with each other, and to get advice from leaders who understand the unique situations facing faculty and administrators.
Brighter Higher Ed is not only our new name, it is our mission – creating a brighter future for students, faculty and administrators. We hope you will join us in this effort. You can join our free community at http://community.brighterhighered.com and check out our free webinars that are posted there. You can also follow me on social media, I’m @TerriGivens on Twitter, and just search for my name on Facebook and Linkedin. I also have a personal website at www.terrigivens.comwhere you can learn more about my research and writing, including my book Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides.