In a recent blog, I wrote about an increasing sense of exhaustion and despair that we are experiencing even when we attempt ostrich-head-in-the-sand, wishful thinking that it will disappear. This feeling is not unique to higher education. The effects of the pandemic have accelerated troublesome conditions everywhere. We are running on fumes. That’s the bad news. Ready for the good news? We only change when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same. (Heard first from my mother but the internet credits Tony Robbins as making it his own.)
Enough pain; let’s change. Very few higher education leaders resist the notion that transformation is needed if their campus is to survive, post-pandemic. The challenge is in reinventing, changing the culture, and changing institutional course.
More good news: SI’s new book, Transforming for Turbulent Times, captures case studies and innovative practices that provide a path forward. Each case begins with creative leadership and a collective culture shift. And each describes promising new practices, programs, pathways, and pedagogies. Read them, when you have a chance. As Paul LeBlanc (SNHU) reminds us: “We learn best from stories, and these are powerful stories of success at a time when so many institutions are struggling. They offer not only valuable information, but also hope.
Luckily, even the most recalcitrant are now recognizing that we must address the problems that so many earlier believed we could just wait out. We now know students are struggling, that enrollment and retention are suffering, that budgets are in the red, and that practices of the past no longer work. For more than two years, we’ve been forced by COVID to adapt, innovate, and embrace remote teaching and working in diverse ways. Let’s continue to adapt, reinvent, and make that rapid change permanent.
In these summer months - when we are putting a challenging academic year behind us - sending our graduates off to a world that regularly changes overnight - let’s take some time to plan for transformation. Buy Transforming for Turbulent Times; explore its proven, eight-step process for navigating your institution through the shifts necessary to become a thriving, new learning enterprise; and contact Strategic Initiatives if you need support in getting started.