Leadership framework assessment

Leadership Framework Assessment

From 1991. Has anything changed in our fundamental views regarding leadership?

A short assessment you may be interested in doing:


Four Frameworks for Leadership: The Bolman/Deal Model

It may be useful to approach leadership from the point of view of four different “frameworks”. Circumstances determine which approach (s) is appropriate. Effective leaders may use a number of these approaches at the same time.

1. The Structural Framework

The “structural” manager tries to design and implement a process or structure appropriate to the problem and the circumstances. This includes:

a. to clarify organizational goals
b. manage the external environment
c. develop a clear structure appropriate to task, and environment
d. clarify lines of authority
e. focus on task, facts, logic, not personality and emotions

This approach is useful when goals and information are clear, when cause-effect relations are well understood, when technologies are strong and there is little conflict, low ambiguity, low uncertainty, and a stable legitimate authority.

2. The Human Resource Framework

The human resource manager views people as the heart of any organization and attempts to be responsive to needs and goals to gain commitment and loyalty. The emphasis is on support and empowerment. The HR manager listens well and communicates personal warmth and openness. This leader empowers people through participation and attempts to gain the resources people need to do a job well. HR managers confront when appropriate but try to do so in a supportive climate

This approach is appropriate when employee morale is high or increasing or when employee morale is low or declining. In this approach resources should be relatively abundant; there should be relatively low conflict and low diversity.

3. The Political Framework

The political leader understands the political reality of organizations and can deal with it. He or she understands how important interest groups are, each with a separate agenda. This leader understands conflict and limited resources. This leader recognizes major constituencies and develops ties to their leadership. Conflict is managed as this leader builds power bases and uses power carefully. The leader creates arenas for negotiating differences and coming up with reasonable compromises. This leader also works at articulating what different groups have in common and helps to identify external “enemies” for groups to fight together.

This approach is appropriate where resources are scarce or declining, where there is goal and value conflict and where diversity is high.

4. The Symbolic Framework

This leader views vision and inspiration as critical; people need something to believe in. People will give loyalty to an organization that has a unique identity and makes them feel that what they do is really important. Symbolism is important as is ceremony and ritual to communicate a sense of organizational mission.

These leaders tend to be very visible and energetic and manage by walking around. Often these leaders rely heavily on organizational traditions and values as a base for building a common vision and culture that provides cohesiveness and meaning.

This approach seems to work best when goals and information are unclear and ambiguous, where cause-effect relations are poorly understood and where there is high cultural diversity.

Comparing the Four Frameworks

Each of the four frameworks approaches management tasks differently as can be seen in the following.


Structural: set objectives and coordinate resources

Human relations: promote participation

Political: arenas to air conflict and realign power

Symbolic: ritual to signal responsibility

Decision Making

Structural: rational

Human relations: open process to produce commitment

Political: opportunity to gain or exercise power

Symbolic: ritual to provide comfort and support until decisions made


Structural: realign roles and responsibilities to fit tasks

Human relations: maintain a balance between
human needs and formal roles

Political: redistribute power and for new coalitions

Symbolic: maintain an image of accountability and responsiveness


Structural: formal control system for distributing rewards
Human relations: process for helping people grow and improve

Political: opportunity to exercise power

Symbolic: occasion to play roles in shared rituals
Conflict resolution

Structural: authorities resolve conflict

Human relations: develop relationships

Political: develop power by bargaining, forcing, or manipulating others

Symbolic: develop shared values

Goal Setting

Structural: keep organization headed in right direction

Human relations: keep people involved and communications open

Political: provide opportunities for people and groups to make interests known

Symbolic: develop symbols and shared values


Structural: transmit facts and information

Human relations: exchange information, needs, and feelings

Political: vehicles for influencing or manipulating others

Symbolic: telling stories


Structural: formal occasions for making decisions

Human relations: informal occasions for involvement, sharing feelings

Political: competitive occasions to win points

Symbolic: sacred occasion to celebrate and transform the culture

Effective leadership

Structural: social architect

Human relations: catalyst and servant

Political: advocate

Symbolic: prophet and poet

Effective Leadership Process

Structural: analysis and design

Human relations: support and empowerment

Political: advocacy, coalition building

Symbolic: inspiration, framing experience

Ineffective leadership

Structural: petty tyrant

Human relations: pushover

Political: hustler

Symbolic: fanatic, fool

Ineffective leadership process

Structural: management by detail and fiat

Human relations: management by abdication

Political: manipulation

Symbolic: smoke and mirrors

Organizational Change

Structural: change causing confusion; need to realign and renegotiate formal policies

Human relations: change can cause people to feel incompetent, powerless; need to develop new skills, involvement, support

Political: change creates winners and losers; need to create arenas where issues can be negotiated

Symbolic: change creates loss of meaning and purpose; people form attachments to symbols need symbolic healing


Structural: economic incentives

Human relations: growth and self-actualization

Political: coercion, manipulation, and seduction

Symbolic: symbols and celebrations

Choosing a Frame

There are times when any of the four frames is appropriate. The below suggests some ways of determining when each is appropriate

If commitment and motivation are important: human resources and symbolic
If there is ambiguity and uncertainty: Structural
If resources are scarce: structural, political, symbolic
If there is conflict and diversity of opinions: political and symbolic
If there is a top down approach: structural and human resources

Bolman, Lee G., and Terrence E. Deal, Reframing Organizations, Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Spring semester and the end of January…where are we at BSU?

Unlike the Simon and Garfunkel song I Am An Island, no one person is responsible for the work undertaken at BSU; and no one person can continue to move that work forward. It takes all of us working together to become the first choice regional university in Minnnesota, and that is what we are working to become.

Anything less is unacceptable.

I was raised in a rural part of N. Carolina where we picked beans and cut okra during the week and worked in the woods on the weekend cutting and hauling trees to the Morven paper mill in order to survive financially as a family.

Like many high school students in northern Minnesota, my family knew nothing about college and didn’t have the resources to send me even if they did.

And my 2.7 GPA didn’t exactly grab anyone’s attention.

So after high school graduation, I needed a job. However, Rockingham N.C. had few jobs to offer.

I paved roads and parking lots for 3 months, worked in a plastic bag factory in Hamlet for 3 months, got a high draft number pulled out of the military lottery, so joined the USAF to avoid being drafted, handed a rifle, and sent to Viet Nam.

After 4 years in the USAF, getting married and having 3 children, LaRae encouraged me to try college. After all, we had the G.I. Bill to help us survive financially and her family would be there to help smooth the adjustment to college life.

So we took the plunge. I enrolled at Utah State University as a 22 year old freshman with 3 children; four years of military experience living in Texas, Charleston, and Turkey; the G.I. Bill; 12 CLEP credits; and a part-time job.

And I was scared to death.

In high school I was on the vocational track, not the college prep track. I grew up in a rural area outside of a small town and was now surrounded by over 12,000 eighteen year olds wearing clothes with name brands that I couldn’t pronounce. I felt like a nameless face, one of dozens of others, listening to lectures by people with ‘all that education.’ During those first two weeks I thought: This isn’t going to work out; this isn’t for me; and what do I do now? I was preparing to give it up.

Then, something changed. A professor talked with me before our 7:30 a.m. math 101 class got started one morning, used my name, asked about me, and seemed to value the fact that I had recently come to college directly out of the Air Force. Then another professor did the same thing a few days later; then another. I learned how to take notes to pass tests. I learned how to study. I met some people who were older than 18.

Thinking back about that experience, I enrolled at Utah State knowing that I had to pursue more education. I had the desire, the life experience, and the work ethic to be successful, but those weren’t enough. The personal connection with professors, people, played the major role in getting me through to graduation. People changed my life, not the textbooks, the lectures, the quizzes and tests; while the learning gave me what I needed to be successful later and is THE reason to be enrolled at a university, the personal connection with professors in the classroom kept me coming back for more.

But it wasn’t just about the professors.

As a new student, the first few days were filled with counter encounters…where you stand in line forever, walk up to ask a question or fill out a form, have a brief exchange, and then walk away. Or you walk into an office and are greeted by someone sitting behind a desk who is either on the phone or typing, while you stand there wondering if you should interrupt. Having been in the military, I learned to accept that as standard practice, but after the first few days at Utah State, I learned that not all counter encounters are like that.

There are those behind the counters and desks who care about you as a person, who ask you your name during the conversation, and who seem to really enjoy what they do. I learned that it wasn’t the form or information that mattered; it was the feeling of being a person I left with after the counter encounter that mattered. Again, the personal connection.

Why am I sharing this? Three reasons:

1. I would not be here if Utah State University faculty and staff had continually treated me as a non-entity, a number, a nameless face in the crowd. If Utah State University professors like Bill Strong, Kay Camperell, Richard Knight, and Cliff Craig hadn’t stepped up to connect with me, I very well could have dropped out and abandoned the goal of becoming a teacher.

2. I would not have been admitted at BSU. I didn’t meet our current admissions criteria. I didn’t have the GPA, class rank or ACT score needed.

3. I promised incoming new BSU freshmen at our convocations event that BSU faculty and staff put learning and students first, but will challenge them and push them. I also promised them that if they are treated like a number, feel disrespected or ignored at BSU, and began thinking about leaving…to get in touch with me.

I know this place. I have been here for nine years, and coming here again four years ago was like coming home for me. I know this place.

I know how friendly, how helpful, how supportive, and how committed to students our faculty and staff are. This is the kind of place where you can’t make it through Luekens or Wal Mart without having several conversations with strangers about how to cook asparagus or what to do with that strange looking vegetable that you can’t pronounce.

The promise I made to those students will stand the test of time. We are a public university, of and for the people, before we are anything else. I trust that. Like many of you, I devoted my career to that. Like many of you, that is why I came to Bemidji State University.

Martin Luther once said: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Despite some of the most challenging obstacles ever placed before us as a university community, we are planting apple trees at BSU, doing incredibly important work, and we are creating our future rather than waiting for others to create a future for us.

Let’s remind ourselves of a few apple trees planted at BSU.

Reorganizing organizational support across academic and student affairs
Adding new approaches and support systems to our admissions area
Growth in distance-based programs in collaboration with our two-year partners
Dual admissions with Northland CC with more planned
Cranium Cafe and other tools to assist faculty, staff, and students
A coaching program for new freshmen
Building of a wellness area for residential students
New housing opening in the fall
Memorial Hall completion
Closer alignment with NTC
Enrollment increases reflecting wider recognition of BSU
Revamped web site
Surpassing the comprehensive campaign goal of $35M
A strategic enrollment management plan completed
Inclusive Excellence planning underway
Charting the Future implementation team work underway
Organizational Awareness sessions
Greatly expanded cabinet
Reductions in faculty/student ratio and class size over the past four years
Increased enrollment of international students and in BSU students studying abroad
Four to six visiting scholars in residence each semester

I could go on….and on….and on.

But what we do here isn’t just about BSU. It’s also about issues that go to the heart and soul of education and what it means to live in a society where survival of a democratic way of life is dependent upon an educated, thoughtful citizenry.

Thomas Jefferson said:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

“Ignorance and sound self-government cannot exist together: the one destroys the other. A despotic government can restrain its citizens and deprive the people of their liberties only while the people are ignorant.”

I recently read an article by a colleague summarizing the doomsday forecasts of media pundits and others decrying the state of higher education in the U.S., even some of our own university colleagues who love to criticize the very core of what we are and what we stand for as a public learning community.

He said:

“When did students and their parents start seeing college as a gauntlet rather than as an exciting pathway to opportunity?

When did policy makers stop seeing higher education as a valuable public investment?

When did a degree become a commodity to be sold and traded in the marketplace with little regard to what it means to be an educated person?

When did I start playing for a losing team?”

Allow me to answer that last question for my colleague: NEVER! Not now, not ever. I don’t play for a losing team.

Let me take a little more time to respond to the other questions, which do reflect the current state of higher education in Minnesota and in the U.S.

First, the New Normal doesn’t require that we toss the baby out with the bath water. Universities have been, and always need to be, places where the discovery of knowledge and the application of knowledge to address real problems and real issues in society are at the center of what we do.

At BSU, teaching and learning may be pre-eminent, but we value discovery and the application of knowledge as well.

Most importantly, we are trying to live democratic principles of inclusion, rational dialogue, reasoned thought, and an unrelenting commitment to social justice for all people regardless of social standing, economic capacity, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual preference…categories sometimes used to marginalize those not ‘like us.’

We value those things because we are a public university of and for the people. Those are all at the core of who we are and what we do.

Secondly, everyone here is a teacher; and everything teaches. Every interaction. Some teach in formal classroom settings; but all of us teach through every interaction with a student or client on each of our three campuses. We are charged with a responsibility to mentor the next generation of neighbors, colleagues, and friends. When a young person or not so young person goes to college they join a community of learners.

And finally, we know that people will pay for a quality educational experience within the means they have available to them, but the cost of a quality educational experience is getting beyond the means of those who need it most. We cannot increase costs, and contrary to what most believe, we can reduce costs and enhance quality. It takes a willingness to put aside our personal baggage and seriously consider research on the effectiveness of new technologies and new pedagogical models that we may not be comfortable with because many of us were not raised with them.

Hybrid/blended course delivery is one of those new pedagogical models and a recent meta-analysis of the research on that blended learning indicates that students learn and retain more when engaged in blended models than in a purely online environment or a purely face to face environment. Online and face to face environments were shown to impact learning equally well, but not as well as in a blended environment.

And what of other approaches proven effective that some believe are new and innovative, such as embedding field experiences and service learning within the curriculum; inquiry based approaches; experiential and project based learning; analysis of real-world case studies, Socratic dialogue, and an ever present focus on problem solving and critical thinking…all proven to be highly effective.

They aren’t new.

They come from a history of progressive, constructivist educational practices in Europe and the U.S. dating from the late 1700’s and the work of Pestalozzi and others.

Through the 1800’s with Montessori and others.

Through the 1900’s and the work of Dewey and the progressive education association within the U.S.

Into the 2000’s as it evolved to include critical pedagogy and the work of Freire,

Giroux…McClaren, Kohn, Apple, Kozol and Palmer.

And those are just a few of the European and European-Americans who influenced U.S. educational thought and practice. You can find a similar history of experiential and progressive educational thought and practices among indigenous populations in the U.S. and elsewhere as well.

Let’s get to the point here.

Constructivist, progressive educational models that engage students in a partnership with the teacher to build a curriculum around challenging outcomes, design experiential learning activities to meet those outcomes, and jointly assess attainment of those outcomes, work.

They are not new. Those models have been heavily researched, reviewed, practiced and written about for over 300 years.

Just as importantly, those models align with the democratic principles we espouse as a public university and are trying to live at BSU.

As faculty and staff, how can we ask for and expect inclusion in shared decision making and expect our voice to be heard if we then turn around and exclude students from decisions regarding the content of the curriculum, the learning activities undertaken to learn that curriculum, and the assessment practices used to determine how well they have learned?

Likewise, how can we say that we value diversity when we standardize the curriculum, standardize our teaching approaches, and standardize the assessment of learning so that one size fits all…a process I have heard referred to as the McDonaldization of education?

While there are common knowledge and skill sets we could all agree upon as important for everyone, are we forgetting our core purposes as an institution of higher education when we fail to include student voice in decisions about their learning?

Do we make learning bland and tasteless through an over emphasis on standardization?

I believe that we need to celebrate educational experiences that are rigorous, peer reviewed, and research-driven; experiences that engage students in relevant, hands-on learning and critical thought; and we need to build courses with students that provide those experiences.

I want to end by leaving you with a challenge in each area. The first is:

Qualitative growth direction

Our focus must be on quality. If our teaching is grounded in best practice, student learning outcomes will reflect that. If our service to others is superb, our image in the eyes of students and the community will rise. Since everything teaches, that means every interaction; every experience must be an outstanding one for our students, our community members and our colleagues. Just because many students come to us less prepared then we would like, they deserve no less than a student entering Harvard, Yale, or Stanford. We take them as they are and we expect their best efforts, providing needed support for them to be successful.

Here is the challenge for you:

When we face obstacles, proactively bring forward ideas to remove them. No complaints, no blame, no procrastination. We need to be a university of ideas.

If we raise our expectations of ourselves and of those we work with, the word will get out and those we serve will become our best promoters and their messages will market BSU for us.

Strategic shrinkage direction

Let’s be clear.

We need to stop trying to be all things to all people. We have a mission and we need to focus.

Here is the challenge:

Let’s make the tough choices needed to strategically shrink what we are doing…to stop doing some things in order to focus on our core mission. Do that at the unit level. For the university, let’s suggest what could go on the stop doing list and bring those forward through our governance process to the cabinet.

If we do those two things, qualitative growth and strategic shrinkage, we will be a much healthier, sustainable university than we currently are, and we are pretty damn good right now.

Scholarship and regional universities

Scholarship and Scholarly Work

I would like to write today about scholarship and scholarly work and its importance to all of us in higher education, especially at BSU and other regional comprehensive universities.

Approaching my 35th year in education, I find it increasingly more comfortable to express exactly how I feel about issues regardless of who I am speaking with. I saw that in my grandfather long ago when I was a young man and remember thinking, “I guess as you get older you don’t much care what other people think about what you have to say.” My wife says that I am becoming more like him every day.

Whatever the reason, I definitely have my own perspective concerning scholarship, its definition, and the importance of it to the university. As I share that perspective with you, I will use BSU as the example, but you may substitute the name of another regional university in its place, or the name of a research university as far as I am concerned. I believe that defining what constitutes scholarship and scholarly work is critical to the future of higher education regardless of institutional type.

In talking about scholarship, scholarly work, and how it could be defined, I believe we must consider two significant areas that impact our thinking about what constitutes scholarship and scholarly work: Institutional mission and the beliefs and attitudes about scholarship that faculty members bring to those institutions.

First, institutional mission

I believe that there are three major generators of institutional status, or prestige, in higher education:

1. student selectivity,

2. high-level research (peer reviewed/juried grants and publications),

3. big-time athletics (football and men’s basketball).

In the quest for status, BSU does not fare well in any of those domains. Neither do other regional comprehensive masters granting universities.

We are not highly selective. While we attract significant numbers of students with excellent records, we are not competitive in attracting large numbers of students at the highest academic levels. We accept that both philosophically and historically because BSU is about access and value added education. We are the people’s university. We offer higher education to students from a wide range of backgrounds. We serve our communities through a variety of educational, cultural, and lifelong learning opportunities, and we don’t apologize for that. In fact, we take great pride in it and believe that a student entering our classrooms leave here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 years later with learning gains that are equal to or greater than learning gains made by exceptional students entering elite private or research intensive universities.

Faculty members at BSU do not publish at high rates in the traditional sense of what is valued in academia, not high enough to attain high status or prestige for the institution as a whole.

BSU has considerable difficulty breaking into the big time sports arena. Although we love our teams and our student athletes, the Sanford Center and football stadium are not central to the identity of BSU or to our mission.

What makes us distinctive is our mission. The traditional mission of the research university is to conduct cutting edge research to generate new knowledge and to prepare students who will continue to do so. The traditional mission of the liberal arts college is the classical education of students.

The core of BSU’s mission is the blending of a liberal arts core with professional preparation for a broad range of students who might not otherwise secure access to higher education, to conduct modest amounts of research (primarily applied) and to make place matter through regional stewardship.

That mission is crystal clear to us. It aligns with our vision, values, and priorities. It has high value even if it does not convey high status and prestige.

Second, faculty beliefs and attitudes

Like me, BSU faculty members typically receive doctorates in traditional disciplines from research universities. They were socialized into that value system and their discipline over several years. They participated in seminars, informal and formal discussions with faculty and other graduate students, attendance at professional meetings, reading and analyzing the professional literature of the discipline, assisting with research, etc.

The values I learned from my experience as a doctoral student included: the centrality of research and publication to the defining of scholarship, the importance of advanced library and technological resources, the importance of professional involvement in the discipline, the value of having graduate student assistants to work with, and the critical need for time away from teaching to conduct research, pursue funding opportunities, and publish. I believe those experiences are shared by others on our faculty as well.

If a new BSU faculty member, fresh out of a Ph.D. program brings those values with him or her, some degree of cognitive dissonance is sure to occur when they arrive. The discrepancy between their view of a successful university professor and the reality of teaching 4×4 loads, advising 30+ students, coordinating programs, serving on committees and task forces, and serving the community and region at BSU may be considerable.

Boyer pointed out in 1990 that when a regional university hires faculty members based on their research potential rather than on their desire to be at a comprehensive university, those faculty members often feel “no sense of pride for either their institution or their role in it.”

My experience confirms that assertion. BSU faculty members who seem most content with their jobs are those who are able to find a workable compromise between the research university values they bring with them and the mission of BSU. I believe the core of that compromise must be considered in our definition of scholarly work and what constitutes scholarship.

Scholarship and scholarly work

If BSU is going to thrive in the 21st century, I believe we need a new model of what is acceptable faculty work. Two decades ago, Boyer provided that model. In Scholarship Reconsidered, Boyer argued that the work of faculty members at many universities has been too narrowly defined. To be a faculty member was to be a disciplinary researcher. Faculty members, regardless of where they worked, were assessed on the production of peer-reviewed publications and funds secured to support their disciplinary research. Boyer felt that much of the best work of faculty members at institutions outside the research sector was being ignored. He recommended a broader view of scholarship that included the scholarship of teaching, the scholarship of integration, and the scholarship of application in addition to the traditional scholarship of discovery. In particular regard to the regional universities, he argued that teaching and application should be, and often are, based in a faculty members’ expert knowledge and should be recognized as scholarship.

Since 1990, many institutions have adopted aspects of Boyer’s model, including BSU. However, there has been opposition from some. For example, some argue that Boyer’s expansion of the concept of scholarship weakens what constitutes scholarship. Some fear that traditional scholarship will be supplanted by activities such as serving on search committees, working with students on service learning projects, or serving as president of the local chamber of commerce.

A second concern about Boyer’s model has been that it is confusing for many. For example, there is confusion about what constitutes the scholarship of teaching, discovery, application, and integration vs. what constitutes scholarly work in those areas. There is concern that if Boyer meant for scholarly work to count in faculty reward systems, he went too far. Scholarly work, while important, is difficult to measure and does not constitute scholarship under the traditional definition of scholarship, which again is peer reviewed, juried publications and presentations based upon sound research as the best indicator of the quality of faculty and their work, and it is the easiest to quantify.

A third concern about the application of Boyer’s model has been that instead of providing an alternative way of thinking about faculty work, Boyer’s expansion of scholarship would become additional work within the faculty reward system. Understanding and documenting the scholarships of teaching, integration, and application could be more work for the faculty member to do.

So, what has happened since Boyer published his view and the adoption, at least in part, of that view by many universities?

I believe that the Boyer model, as it has been adopted, has done little to change the one-dimensional view of scholarship that has dominated American higher education for decades. Although giving credit for work in teaching, integration and application is seen as appropriate, it hasn’t been integrated into faculty reward systems to any great extent. However, if campuses like BSU are going to be distinctive and thrive, we need to fully integrate recognition for work in all of the Boyer identified areas of scholarship into our faculty reward system. A new definition of scholarship that goes beyond the traditional, historical definition and truly embraces an expansion of what constitutes scholarship is needed.

In its original form, Boyer’s concern may have been not so much about a broadening of the forms that scholarship could be presented in as for a broadened role for the acquisition and use of knowledge, or what I would call scholarly work. Traditional scholarship results in a product that is relatively easy to assess. Scholarly work is a process that requires a different type of assessment. I think what Boyer was suggesting is that at regional universities (and I believe at all universities) we need to emphasize and recognize the importance of scholarly work as a base for all our activities, and that scholarly work can count as scholarship for purposes of retention, promotion, and tenure.

While many at BSU may agree that Boyer was on the right track in 1990, the definition of scholarship is still an area of tension that needs exploration. Counting scholarly work as scholarship has not been affirmed at BSU as a basis for tenure and promotion decisions and the definition of scholarship still tends to fall within the traditional paradigm of the academy. Within that traditional definition, the notion of what constitutes public dissemination of published product is also undefined.

My argument is that we should not settle for a modicum of discovery research as a basis for faculty members to prove their value to the university in a pale imitation of the research universities. We should encourage faculty members to engage in scholarly work across any of the four areas of scholarship and then evaluate how that work meets an expanded definition of what constitutes scholarship, which can be just as rigorous as work resulting in publishable products under the traditional definition.

Simply put, scholarly work as scholarship could include a wide range of faculty activities that require scholarly expertise but may not result in publishable products. Scholarly work emerges from a faculty member’s area of expertise and the desire to make a contribution to one’s discipline. It can be peer reviewed and publicly disseminated throughout a process, qualifying as scholarship despite not resulting in a publishable product.

Scholarly work is common to faculty members at all kinds of colleges and universities. It is the foundation for all faculty work. Scholarly work includes processes by which faculty members acquire and maintain their disciplinary expertise. Reading the literature of the discipline, talking with peers and students about new findings, going to workshops and conferences, and reflecting on disciplinary issues are all aspects of scholarly work. Also included in scholarly work are informal and preliminary research activities that may never lead to publication. Scholarly work begins in earnest in graduate school and presumably continues throughout one’s career. Traditional scholarship involves considerable scholarly work. Scholarly work in teaching occurs when a faculty member has disciplinary knowledge to share, blending that disciplinary knowledge with pedagogical knowledge to positively impact student learning. It is also knowledge generated through scholarly work that faculty members use to share in consultation, workshops, etc. when they reach out to community audiences beyond the university.

Scholarly work has not typically been assessed directly, nor explicitly valued, in tenure and promotion decisions. I believe that the major reason for that is resistance by faculty members to engage in the critical assessment of scholarly work. Instead, assumptions have been made about the presence of scholarship. Published research in peer-reviewed journals has been the common measure of scholarship, and it is assumed to indicate sufficient scholarly expertise. But is it sufficient?

Could regional universities develop criteria for what constitutes scholarly work and also develop ways to directly assess scholarly work and then count that work as necessary and adequate for affirming decisions pertaining to retention, tenure, and promotion of their faculty? BSU cannot compete with the research universities in terms of traditional scholarship, but we can become the experts at directly encouraging, assessing and recognizing scholarly work. To me, the assessment of scholarly work seems no more onerous than the efforts needed to link peer reviewed publications to scholarly teaching and service.

Also, devoting the time needed to assess scholarly work as scholarship encourages a differentiated approach to faculty assignments where individuals are valued for their strengths rather than penalized for their deficits. Some faculty members will be more skilled at doing traditional research while others are better at teaching or service. But all faculty members can be held to high standards of scholarly work and rewarded accordingly. The university of the twenty-first century desperately needs to allow faculty to differentiate their assignments with an associated need to develop means to assure fairness and high quality in all four areas of scholarship.

What might the direct assessment of scholarly work look like?

I will make a few suggestions in each category. The assessment of scholarly work itself seems relatively straightforward. It would involve keeping a record of the consumption and integration of scholarly materials into activities fitting the Boyer areas of teaching, discovery, application, and integration. I can understand those who might consider this weak or ineffective. Yet I think that with the increase in the use of part-time and fixed-term faculty members such a procedure is useful and necessary.

The intellectual capital gained in graduate schools gets used up quickly when faculty do not consume and apply new information in their disciplines. Institutions need to know if faculty members are keeping up with their disciplines. Self reports of scholarly work and how that work is integrated is a start.

Scholarly work occurs in teaching in a number of ways, and there is ample literature available on the teacher/scholar model. Perhaps it would be most clearly apparent in course design and syllabi and how courses change over time. Required readings and assignments should reflect changes in the discipline’s knowledge base. They should also reflect changes in the faculty member’s pedagogical knowledge. The content of class lectures, discussions, laboratories, etc. should also reflect the faculty member’s growing expertise. Faculty members could also be asked to describe how they have incorporated their scholarship into their teaching in narrative form.

Evidence of learning gains experienced by students in faculty members’ classes would also be a critical component of scholarly work. Assessing the role of scholarly work in professional service or application may be difficult. Recipients of scholarly service often do not know when they are receiving such. It may be fairly easy to appear scholarly to outsiders without much substance. Peer review can be used to assess the scholarly work of a faculty member’s reports of application and recipients can report on effectiveness.

Scholarly work in integration could include applying professional field knowledge and expertise across interdisciplinary programming where students can benefit from seeing the connections in solving real world problems. It could include faculty work involving partnerships with students to conduct applied research that crosses multiple disciplines.

For now, this is where I must end this. I am simply out of time this morning. However, as in all things pertaining to scholarly work and scholarship, the conversation could be never ending.

Assessment, Remediation, Developmental Education

The following comes after reflecting on past meetings regarding developmental education that included a lot of time spent discussing cut scores for assigning students to remedial and developmental courses. So excuse the rambling, and somewhat jaded, perspective.

1. ACT primarily measures subject area content knowledge.

2. ACT is highly correlated with success in the freshmen year of college.

3. General education programs should promote higher order skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, global understanding, tolerance, etc….lifetime skills…not just content.

4. Many public school teachers still suggest that high school students blow off their senior year, forgetting what they learned the year before, so that when they get to college they end up struggling in subjects such as math, which needs continuous involvement in order for students to carryover what they have learned the previous year to the next year.

5. Some staff and faculty here state that we admit students from small rural schools who were valedictorians with a 4.0 GPA in high school but with less than 20 ACT scores.

Ok…is there something wrong with this picture?

If a student forgets the subject area content because they skipped that subject for a year, did they really learn the content in the first place? And if they didn’t learn the content, do they still have the higher order skills we promote in our general education curriculum?

My youngest daughter, when in 10th grade biology, had to memorize 3 pages of definitions for a test that was coming up; all removed from the context of application. She was in a panic, so I helped her for a week prepare for the test. She received 85% on the test. Two weeks later, I asked her to retake the test at home and graded it. She received 60%. Since being a teacher educator sometimes makes me a teacher’s worse nightmare, I asked my daughter to take the test one more time two weeks later (now 4 weeks from the first test); she grudgingly consented and she received a 45%. You can see where this is going. I took those results to the next parent/teacher conference and talked with the biology teacher about it, showing the 3 test scores. Interesting conversation.

I never questioned the higher order skills, however, since my daughter was definitely making great progress in those areas.

So I pose this question:

What are we measuring?

Does the measuring of subject area knowledge in higher education reflect that we are no different from a high school class where learning is a low level endeavor, i.e. knowledge based information absorption and regurgitation exercise…or do we believe and practice and assess in a way that reflects a belief that learning is a process that includes application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation where higher order and lifelong skills are developed and content actually ‘sticks.’

Does use of the ACT as a predictor of first year success in college reflect that our first year of college is no different from the high school years?

Are we penalizing ex-high school students for not remembering what they learned from the content areas by placing them in situations where they get more opportunities to memorize?

Yet, we value the higher order skills we say our gen ed curriculum provides…


I served at a previous university where there were ‘core values’ prominently displayed in the strategic plan and in other documents. I wrote a short entry about what those core values meant to me then, and want to share those here…updated.

My belief is that many places have core values they espouse, but few live them. Many people have core values they espouse; few live them.

They are typically just statements on a card.

If we truly lived our core values, what might that look like? Here are five from the past, along with some thinking about what living them may actually look like in practice.

Integrity: Open communication depicting who we are and what we believe. No hidden agendas; no deceit. No undermining of others. Consistency…going to others we disagree with and talking with them about those disagreements. Consistency…being personally responsible and accountable for every word and every action. Consistency…always looking for ways to improve conditions for others. Consistency…putting others first, not every now and then, but always. Consistency…always treating others with respect despite strong disagreements. Consistency.

Excellence: Holding ourselves and others to the highest possible standards of performance while understanding that this is an educational setting, so everything teaches and everything takes time to learn (consistency with patience). Viewing routine and mediocrity and acceptance of good as truly being the enemy of great. Determination to be the best in EVERY area we have responsibility for. My strongly stated opinion that you are free to disagree with is this: the only reason BSU isn’t the best in the world in some critical areas is because we put self-imposed limits on ourselves with our own thinking, i.e. blaming our inability to be GREAT in X area on lack of resources, lack of pay, lack of money, lack of will, lack of talent, not my area, not my job, it doesn’t help me get ahead…you name it. If we stop blaming and step up with determination to be the BEST at X and take action to get there, we will get there. You fill in the X. There are a lot of X’s out there that we can pursue. Do it one at the time, but do it.

Creativity: Taking calculated risks. Having the courage to voice an alternative viewpoint. Investing yourself in pushing the limits of your thinking. Challenging the way we do things by offering a new way to consider. Courage to be ridiculed, put down, viewed as odd.

Leadership: Practicing democratically based processes where decision making is shared without letting the majority decide to adopt harmful practices. Individual responsibility to step up and participate and be part of the solution, not part of the problem, while bringing others into the circle. Everyone participates; everyone engages; yet individuals are valued for their contributions. Serving others. Pushing others to excel without oppression. Not micromanaging others, but freeing others up to do their work by removing barriers, lightening their loads, supporting their efforts. See why good leadership is complex? And difficult? And scarce?

Collaboration: Inclusiveness. Bringing others to the table. At all times; in all places. Being invitational. Working for the good of others by partnering with unlikely partners at times. Always having the end in mind when at the table for the first time.

Those are my thoughts early on a Tuesday before a full day.

They could change….

Perspectives on the future of U.S. higher education

Interesting…this is from 5 years ago…see if you think they were accurate…or not.

Experts Ponder the Future of the American University

By Karin Fischer and Ian Wilhelm

American universities have long set a global standard for higher education. But U.S. institutions will have to change, an international panel of experts said Monday, if they want to retain their edge and help the country in an economy ever more dependent on knowledge and innovation.

“The American model is beginning to creak and groan, and it may not be the model the rest of the world wants to emulate,” said James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and one of the speakers on a panel assembled by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here to discuss the university of the future and the future of the university.

The other panel members largely agreed with Mr. Duderstadt’s assertion that higher education could be among the next economic sectors to “undergo a massive restructuring,” like the banking industry has seen.

Among the factors that could lead to change, they said, are the globalization of commerce and culture, the accessibility of information and communication technologies, and the shift in demographics in developed countries that will result in the need to educate greater numbers of working adults.

One model of a new approach to education could be the for-profit University of Phoenix, whose president, William J. Pepicello, also spoke at the Wilson Center forum. He argued that higher education must be more responsive to and tailor the curriculum to students’ needs. Web sites like Google and Yahoo take note of users’ preferences to give them information more attuned to their needs, he noted, adding, “Is there any reason why a higher-education platform shouldn’t be able to adapt?”

Mr. Duderstadt said that, despite universities’ reputation for being hidebound, there’s a long history of higher education changing in “extraordinary ways” to respond to outside forces. As two examples, he cited the Morrill Act, which created land-grant colleges, and the increase in federally sponsored research activity that followed the launch of the satellite Sputnik by the Soviet Union.

Those instances are proof, Mr. Duderstadt argued, that national policy can drive change. The challenge, he said, is that the United States lacks a coherent national policy for using higher education to drive economic development. By contrast, many Asian governments are spending on universities and research to advance their economies. The American approach to higher education is very “laissez faire,” Mr. Duderstadt said. “That’s why the U.S. is in trouble.”

The University of Tomorrow

When asked to predict what the university of tomorrow will look like, Mr. Duderstadt suggested two ideas: the global institution and the “meta” institution.

On the first point, he said, higher education has always been international, but in the future, there will be a growing number of universities or consortia of universities that compete on a worldwide level for students and faculty. They will also define their missions as trying to solve large issues, like climate change or global societal inequities.

The so-called meta university will be built on rapidly advancing information technology and such applications as OpenCourseWare, digital libraries, and social-networking programs that facilitate peer learning.

While this “new form of collective human intelligence” will change how universities operate, it does not threaten their existence, Mr. Duderstadt and other speakers said.

John L. King, vice provost for academic information for the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, said universities are deep repositories of academic knowledge that can’t simply be replaced. “They’re not going to be wiped out,” he said.

He pointed to the U.S. automobile industry as an example. Although it has fallen on hard times and must change radically to be competitive again, it remains centered in Detroit and will likely be there for the near future.

New technology will, of course, alter some academic practices. Mr. King predicted that OpenCourseWare and similar learning tools could mean the end of the “guild status” enjoyed by professors and the death of tenure.

But, in all, traditional higher-education providers are going to remain useful and important to society, just like electronic devices that have long been seen as approaching obsolescence, Mr. King said.

“We still use radio even though the television came along,” he said.

Why I choose to do this work…or…I’m not here to do my job

If there is one thing I have learned about myself over the years that remains true despite all else, it is this: don’t lie there in bed when your head is spinning with thoughts about what you need to do tomorrow. Get up, write them down, then go back to bed.

This is one of those times, but what I have to write down is going onto this blog.

I just completed the first official day of spring semester 2016 at BSU and NTC. Start-up time can be a powerfully reflective time, and yesterday leads me to say what I am about to say in this blog.

I’d like to keep this simple and straightforward, not mince words, and get to the core of what I really believe about teaching and learning. There is no need to agree or disagree with what I am about to say; I am doing a middle of the night brain dump based upon time to reflect upon why I am at BSU and why I chose to do the work that I do.

I believe that:

1. What matters above all else on a university campus is the relationship between faculty/staff and student. Everything else is secondary.

Therefore, every discussion, every decision, every choice we make should address this question: How does this affect students?

Yes, we must attend to the needs of our community and our region and report out on a myriad of expectations that are put upon us by others. Yes, we are impacted by many things outside of our control; we live in a global society. Still, the relationship between students and each of us who are employed by those students to mentor, guide, and advocate for them and their future comes before everything else.

This is core to our being a university.

2. We must put learning at the center of everything we do and realize that every interaction teaches; not just those interactions that occur within the walls of a classroom.

We are a university; a place of learning. One hundred percent of the time. No exceptions. If that is true, then every interaction teaches. If every interaction teaches, then we are all teachers. Therefore, everyone we hire is a teacher, and it doesn’t matter where you work on campus or what your title is. What matters more is HOW you work on campus and HOW you interact with students.

Shouldn’t this inform every hiring decision we make? Every performance review? Every expectation we hold for ourselves and others?

3. Students should be included in ALL aspects of the teaching and learning process in partnership with faculty, and students are obligated to engage in that process.

Democratic processes don’t stop at the door of shared governance. We can’t put into place processes and procedures to democratize campus decision making for faculty and staff while remaining strangely silent about democratizing the classroom. Isn’t that the epitome of hypocrisy?

How can someone walk into a classroom and impose a course syllabus upon students defining what is to be learned, how it is to be learned, and how that learning is to be assessed, then walk out of the classroom and insist that they must be included in decisions about what is expected at work, what their work day should look like, and how they should be evaluated for that work?

Isn’t that hypocritical?

Are democratic principles to be applied only to those who are in positions of privilege?

If that is true, and if that is what happens at BSU, and if I am expected to let that continue to happen here because that is my job…then I’m not here to do my job.

James Mursell pointed out 40 years ago:

If the schools of a democratic society do not exist for and work for the support and extension of democracy, then they are either socially useless or socially dangerous. At the best they will educate people who will go their way and earn their living indifferent to the obligations of citizenship in particular and of the democratic way of life in general. . . . But quite likely they will educate people to be enemies of democracy—people who will fall prey to demagogues, and who back movements and rally round leaders hostile to the democratic way of life. Such schools are either futile or subversive. They have no legitimate reason for existence.

To read more about what it means to democratize a classroom, you may wish to review the following as a start…and then think about how to incorporate democratic principles into your classroom:



Valuing Diversity and Honoring Ancestry

I grew up in rural North Carolina as a Tadlock. However, that was not my birth name. Born as Martin Chavis, I was raised by my mother’s second husband, a Tadlock, from the age of 18 months. A formal adoption came at the age of 12, and my last name was changed from Chavis to Tadlock.

I never knew my birth father or the history of the Chavis family. It was something that just wasn’t talked about in our home.

When I was 33 years old, my second son had kidney failure and needed a kidney, which I donated. During the hospital recovery stay, my birth father, Lee Chavis, showed up; the first time I had ever met him. He had been keeping track of me since the divorce when I was less than a year old. I never knew.

Amazingly, we were very much alike, not just in appearance, but in mannerisms, attitude, and characteristics you would think can’t be linked to nature, but to nurture. A debate for another time.

From that point forward, I found out all about the Chavis family. I learned about my Chavis ancestry, which is Lumbee/English. I obtained records and found stories about my great grandfather who was one of the original Dawes Act listed Lumbees of North Carolina. He married an English woman, Mary Sykes, and lived on the N.C./S.C. border in the Little Pee Dee River area south of Lumberton. We learned that he was a sharecropper in the cotton fields, raised seven children, and died suddenly at a family Christmas gathering. My wife and I found and visited his and Mary’s grave site at the Little Pee Dee Baptist Church near Clio, S.C., meeting several distant relatives in the process of finding their graves.

His oldest son, Harmon (my grandfather) left the Little Pee Dee and moved to Cordova, N.C. to work in a textile mill, found love and married an Irish woman.

His youngest son, Lee (my father), was born in Cordova and grew up there, marrying my mother, who is German, Scotch/Irish, and Cherokee.

Spending time finding out about my family’s history was life changing. Chavis is the second largest name in Lumbee country. On the S.C. side, the tribe is the Pee Dee Indian Tribe of S.C., and I am a tribal member. The tribe worked hard to gather its people (officially declared “extinct” at one time by the state of South Carolina), and finally officially chartered in 1976. In 2006, the tribe gained state recognition and is still trying to receive federal recognition.

Why am I sharing all of this?

Because it changed my life, my perspective, and my sense of self. Until I found out about my biological roots, my family’s history, my ancestry, I really didn’t have a sense of where I came from and who I was. I never really felt connected to the Tadlock line, although I grew up in that family. I didn’t know anything about the long line of people who had come before me on the Chavis side who later became part of who I am. I had no knowledge of their struggles to raise children, their living through difficult times in trying circumstances, or their reality of enduring policies and practices that were racist and oppressive during the time period that my great grandfather and grandfather lived. The history that fed my biological self (and as mentioned earlier, something more than the biology) wasn’t known.

My appreciation of the struggles experienced by people who aren’t mainstream society, of what it is like to live as an Indian person in a predominately European-American society, of the strength that comes from knowing who you are based upon where you came from, grew tremendously. While I grew up poor as a rural kid named Tadlock and already was sensitive to what this is like, my sensitivity to the power of language, the nuances of meaning in everything that is said when it relates to race, ethnicity, and socio-cultural standing increased tremendously.

My commitment to valuing diversity and honoring the ancestry that informs who I am as a person took a giant leap forward.

We are a university, a collection of people who choose to work and live here for many different reasons. However, those reasons must include an unshakable commitment to equity, inclusion, acceptance of all people regardless of their ancestry, respect for disparate viewpoints, and a commitment to respecting and honoring the diversity that enriches and informs our community.

That commitment can’t just be on paper or in policy; it must be lived every day by every one of us as we interact, disagree, agree, dialogue and debate. We have to be vigilant and educational at the same time, expanding the circle of inclusion to bring inside all of those who are excluded for reasons that have no validity.

Everyone at BSU needs to commit to this, or not work at BSU.

Maybe that is why I am sharing this.

Paulo Freire as the Practice of Freedom

I am trying to get Henry Giroux to pay a visit to BSU this coming year as an opportunity to dialogue about the purposes of higher education. He was my doctoral adviser so I am drawing on that history to try and persuade him to come.

After reading Henry’s paper, if you are interested in creating a reading circle around topics related to transforming teaching and learning, the purposes of higher education, and democratizing the classroom and campus let me know.