eCampus News asked higher-ed leaders: What are your best tips for encouraging your faculty and staff to be more innovative? Here’s what they told us.
“Over the years, our role as educators has been significantly transformed by technology. Today’s learners have moved beyond talking and writing on a whiteboard. We are engaging a student body that has grown accustomed to getting information rapidly and we have to incorporate this into every aspect of our engagement with them. One of the things we do to encourage our team to be more innovative is to offer year-round training on the use of new tools and technologies, best practices in student support, and programs and disciplines to create synergy inside and outside the classroom. We also provide funding to encourage the development of new methodologies. For instance, the $100,000 we received as part of the 2017 Aspen prize was used as a grant to fund 24 innovative faculty projects.”
—J. David Armstrong, Jr., president, Broward College
“Make it safe for faculty to fail when trying something new and provide at least small monetary support for the effort. At Henderson Community College, that support comes from the College Foundation.”
—Kris Williams, PhD, president/CEO, Henderson Community College, Kentucky
“You have to allow your faculty and staff to take risks. By supporting them you’re giving them the opportunity to explore and discover new and innovative ways to help students find success.”
—Richard Rhodes, president and chief executive officer, Austin Community College, Texas
“In 2015, we established the University Institute for Teaching and Learning to create and expand innovative practices in the classroom. One course for our faculty is focused on incorporating technology into their teaching. The university also launched a Digital Flagship initiative, together with Apple, to expand technology opportunities and digital learning for students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.”
—Michael V. Drake, MD, president, The Ohio State University
“I would tell them to start by listening to their students. The millennial generation is native-born to technology and is brimming with ideas on how to use it. Check out all the 12-year-old entrepreneurs giving TED Talks if you want to see how the youngest generations are leading the way. Adults would be wise to follow.”
—Elsa Núñez, president, Eastern Connecticut State University
“Understand that you have the ability to truly change lives. By helping our students move toward the graduation stage, you are making an important contribution to society.”
—Michael J. Smith, president, Berkeley College, New York and New Jersey
“First, I encourage and support professional development opportunities for both faculty and staff. Second, I try to expose faculty to opportunities such as grants or new partnerships that could lead to new curriculum trends or new resources. Third, I assist on recruiting key program advisory committee members who have significant industry experience and can assist faculty to stay abreast of the trends in their fields.
—John J. Rainone, president, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Virginia
“The work world is changing so rapidly today. The jobs we’re preparing our students for in three or five years might not even exist yet. Continuous, lifelong learning is the key to remaining innovative and prepared for the workplace of tomorrow. That applies to our students, faculty, and staff alike.
“It’s not enough to earn a degree and stop learning. The workplace is constantly evolving and innovating, and we all need to continue learning to ensure our skill sets remain relevant and needed. This isn’t just a challenge—it’s a huge opportunity, too. Those who commit to building new competencies in response to market needs will be able to position themselves as valued, innovative workers for years to come.”
—Gloria Larson, president, Bentley University, Massachusetts
“Identify those who need us, who we don’t yet serve or serve well enough, and solve for that challenge.”
—Paul J. LeBlanc, president, Southern New Hampshire University