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Preparing for the Future: Ivy Tech Develops Educational Leaders

by Qetler Jensrud

Education in America is undergoing pro-found change, both on the federal and state levels. Innovative leaders are needed to create an educational system that moves students from school to careers and lifelong learning. But where will these leaders come from? Administrators at Ivy Tech, recognizing their responsibility for leadership development, recently organized a Leadership Development Institute for their district.

The Institute, which uses curriculum developed by NCRVE, just graduated its first group of leaders this summer. A second group is currently enrolled. Richard Heckman, the director of the Leadership Development Institute, indicated that the Institute was created in response to "all the changes that we are facing across the country in terms of accountability and the economic conditions that we are living in right now...[and] whether or not our faculty and staff are really prepared to be productive in that kind of environment."

He said that originally the leadership development discussions centered around serving faculty, but it soon became evident that others would also benefit from the training. Consequently, the first group of individuals to graduate consisted of five faculty, three administrators, and four staff employees--six women and six men. The career experience of this group ranged from three years to 21 years.

Dr. Heckman believes that the Leadership Academy experience "has been positively accepted and reacted to by not only the . . . participants in the Institute, but the campus administrators and supervisors. Across the board, reaction has been very positive... and there has been feedback from campus personnel... in terms of the way the participants have been performing their jobs." This early success was the impetus for beginning the second round of training.

The NCRVE Curriculum

Dr. Heckman reviewed a number of curriculum materials and chose material developed by NCRVE because it was comprehensive, easy to implement, and suitable for training educational leaders with diverse career experiences. The curriculum, titled Preparing Leaders for the Future, consists of 34 learning experiences complete with facilitator's notes, worksheets, case studies, transparencies and detailed lesson plans. The learning experiences are designed to develop the leader attributes assessed by the Leader Attributes Inventory (LAI), which is also published by NCRVE.

One of the commendable aspects of the curriculum is that it is non-biased in terms of participation. Dr. Heckman reported that, "by the end of the two-day retreat, [participants] had bonded and coalesced as a group, regardless of employee classification. The materials were just as applicable to exempt staff (administration) as to non-exempt staff and to faculty."

An important consideration in the selection and implementation of any program is the amount of time and effort needed to plan and administer sessions. Dr. Heckman indicated that they followed the 34-lesson curriculum outline pretty closely and found it was easy to implement. A further distinguishing quality was the flexibility of the published program. Where needed, Dr. Heckman modified the learning experiences because of time constraints and participant feedback. For example, the facilitator's notes for presentation were sent to the participants as reading assignments before the group met, as opposed to having someone lecture from the notes during the session. Dr. Heckman indicated that they used all of the materials that were suggested.

Tailoring the Curriculum to Individual Needs

The first step in the leadership development curriculum is to administer the LAI to collect diagnostic information about each student on 37 attributes known to be strongly associated with effective leadership. At the Ivy Tech Institute, the LAI was completed by each student and was also given to five observers who worked with and knew that individual well. A feedback report was then prepared for the trainee in which LAI scores on the 37 attributes were compared in terms of (1) the students' self perception vs. the average of her/his five observers; (2) the average of the five observers vs. a national norm group; and (3) a prediction of leader effectiveness using the five observer ratings in comparison with the ratings of a national norm group. Using this information, students were able to "personalize" the curriculum by concentrating their efforts on particular attributes whenever possible.

Students at the Institute completed the curriculum in a total of 99 hours during one academic year. Two-day retreats were held at the beginning and ending of the program with 11 day-long sessions in between. According to Dr. Heckman, one reason the program was so successful was that planning began early--in 1993--and continued up through the fall of 1995. When asked if he would recommend the program to others, he said, "Oh, absolutely."

Conclusion

As some states sit and wait to see what the future holds, Indiana is taking an active stance to assure that it will have the leaders needed to meet the changing demands as they unfold. Hats off to Ivy Tech State College and Richard Heckman for their insights and action in preparing for the journey ahead.

Qetler Jensrud is a researcher with NCRVE and the coordinator of special services at the University of Minnesota. She has been involved in leadership research for the past eight years and has coauthored several documents on the subject.

Editor's Note: The Preparing Leaders for the Future curriculum (MDS-736) and the Leader Attributes Inventory (MDS-730) are available from the NCRVE, Materials Distribution Service, Western Illinois University, 46 Horrabin Hall, Macomb, IL 61455 (800-637-7652). Questions concerning the Leader Attributes Inventory and the curriculum can be addressed to Qetler Jensrud, University of Minnesota, 210 VoTech Education Building, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108 (612-624-3092).



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