Leadership in Academia is a national initiative, co-founded by the Rothschild Foundation and the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Its mission is to establish and nurture a strong network of senior members of Universities, Colleges and research centers, capable of coping with the transformations that will ensure continuing academic excellence, innovation and social impact.
Institutions of higher education all over the world are facing huge challenges: These include disruptive new learning technologies; extensive competition for human and financial resources; generational as well as cultural changes that question the very concepts of knowledge and learning, and last but not least, social, economic and demographic needs and constraints.
While these trends are global, it seems as if they are even more prominent in Israel due to the tremendous growth of new institutions, mostly colleges in the past 20 years, the growing dominance of the High-Tech scene and the changing demographics.
Top academics, researchers and teachers, now find themselves, often reluctantly, in leadership positions. These positions are not always part of their aspirations, nor of their training, and are not adequately recognized and compensated. In today’s highly turbulent environment, one cannot remain reconciled to the fact that leadership is not part of the concern of academics and the academia as a whole. It clearly requires better integration and collaboration between all related Academic and Administrative aspects and capabilities.
We believe that by initiating, developing and supporting a network of current and potential senior leaders, the program will create the needed momentum for gradually closing this gap.
The proposed program and group composition:
Beginning in the 2018—2019 Academic year, some 30 fellows are nominated annually to form a learning community. They are drawn from among senior academics (Vice Presidents, Vice Rectors, Deans and former department heads) as well as senior administrators (VP’s or equivalent), representing all of Israel’s Nine universities and several colleges that alternate from year to year. In the process of composing the learning community, careful consideration is placed on gender balance, disciplinary and ethnic diversity.
The program combines a problem solving approach together with skill development. It enables the fellows to identify the different challenges, and to search for solutions based on best practices, originating in Israel or abroad.
In order to navigate among these complex factors, the core part of the program encourages the fellows to assume a “leadership state of mind” that will enhance their capacity to embrace changes and drive impact.
The program is highly demanding. It is composed of 20 days in Israel (9 seminars lasting 2—3 days each) and 10—14 days abroad (two international field trips to Europe and the US). Given their vast experience, their diversified knowledge and learning capabilities, the fellows take an active role in structuring the different formal and informal activities.
It is anticipated that, in the coming years, participating fellows will be motivated to assume top senior positions in the different institutions, thereby activating a large network that will contribute to development within and among institutions. In sum, the initiative promises to create a nurturing eco-system such that talented faculty members and administrators will step up and skillfully assume leadership role. This will contribute to integrating the striving for academic and organizational excellence with the on-going responsibility to the larger society and greater good.