Bridging the Gap is a timely and accessible addition to the literature of organizational change in higher education administration. It’s the best read on leadership since Steve Sample’s “Principles of Contrarian Leadership.” With chancellors and presidents increasingly consumed by pursuit of external resources and provosts focusing more and more on management, the obligation for academic leadership is falling on deans and chairpersons. This book addresses their needs and opportunities.
Whether a newly appointed dean or chair who has just crossed the great divide — as a wise old faculty senate chair once reminded me, “Once a suit …” — or an experienced survivor, any dean or chairperson will find much to savor in Bridging the Gap. Ideas are presented in a lively and stimulating way, with a minimum tangle of ed-speak. Six chapters of structured interviews and reflective discourse present the views of a fascinating panel of practitioners from a wide range of institutions. I lived several administrative lives in these chapters and learned something from each.
The book closes with a summary of leadership characteristics and a framework of appreciative enquiry leadership that’s worth the journey for academic administrators at all levels of the university.
Richard S. Jarvis
Chancellor, Oregon University System
To change or not to change is no longer an option for public institutions of higher education. But there are still a variety of options of how to go about making those changes, some producing greater success than others. Authors Johnson, Hanna, and Olcott show how successful change can be achieved by understanding the interconnectiveness of academic leadership, technology, and institutional culture. The authors provide the reader with solid theoretical underpinnings, but more importantly they allow already effective change agents to tell their own stories of how they have managed change in a seemingly static academic environment. Reading Bridging the Gap was like attending a conference and coming back reinvigorated with a host of new ideas.
Dean, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
University of Northern Iowa
Deans and department chair’s lives are filled with competing and often conflicting pressures. These range from constantly reengineering our schools to address budget challenges to responding to new competition. Keeping our organizations moving forward by making the most effective use of limited resources requires constant attention to “thinking differently.” However, no single event in our recent history has changed the way we do business in higher education more than the use of technology in areas from data management to instructional delivery. The successful integration and utilization of technology can help all of us become more effective and productive. Bridging the Gap provides a framework for successfully implementing the kind of changes educational leaders will need to make to meet current and future challenges. A nice balance of grounded theory with practical insights makes this a must read for new and experienced leaders in our schools colleges and departments of education.
Richard L. Schwab
Neag School of Education
University of Connecticut
Deans and chairpersons are where the rubber meets the road in terms of higher education leadership. So this book, which specifically addresses the needs and concerns of these administrators as they deal with the impacts of technology and organizational change, is a valuable addition to our field. The organization of the book is part of its appeal. I particularly liked the interviews with various deans and department chairs. These are not theoretical case studies, but real perspectives from those who have been there, done that, and done it successfully. They share with insight and candor their experience with what worked and what didn’t. Given the challenges facing our higher education institutions and the inevitable changes we will undergo as we meet them, these ideas on “bridging the gap” are very timely, indeed.
Dean of Extended University Services
Washington State University
President, University Continuing Education Association
Bridging the Gap is a rigorous and yet practical guide for deans and chairpersons that offers useful insights on leadership, technology, organizational change, and academic culture. It provides theoretical underpinnings, crucial insights, and specific advice into the skills and values that are necessary for implementing change and building twenty-first century colleges and universities.
David G. Imig
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education