Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education

Principles and Practices of Collaborative Leadership

August 2022
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    26th August 2022
  • ISBN 9781642674415
  • Language English
  • Pages 229 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
August 2022
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    26th August 2022
  • ISBN 9781642674408
  • Language English
  • Pages 229 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
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August 2022
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  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    29th August 2022
  • ISBN 9781642674422
  • Language English
  • Pages 229 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

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August 2022
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    29th August 2022
  • ISBN 9781642674439
  • Language English
  • Pages 229 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

This book offers formal and informal leaders at all levels of their institution theory-informed and practical guidance on implementing and sustaining change through collaborative leadership. The framework and concepts presented are applicable at the department, program, campus, or system level to guide minor, incremental, or transformative change.

Achieving a shared organizational vision can be a daunting challenge, given the multiple missions of higher education, varied and often conflicting stakeholder viewpoints, siloed organizational structures, traditions of shared governance, and a highly educated workforce bringing together colleagues with diverse disciplinary perspectives. Achieving these aims requires taking into account the organization’s systems and values and the needs and aspirations of corresponding stakeholders across the enterprise. Ruben provides a guide for achieving and sustaining these goals in an engaged and collaborative manner.

Employing the author’s widely used Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) framework, this book offers principles and practices relative to change, collaboration, and organizational vision that can greatly enhance the prospects for effective outcomes, highlighting three key themes:

  1. Understanding and leveraging the dynamics of change.
  2. Leading collaboratively, and meaningfully engaging one’s colleagues.
  3. Adopting and pursuing a shared vision of organizational purpose and aspirations.

The book is intended for faculty and staff who want to advance the effectiveness and impact of their program, department, and institution, and to do so in a way that creates a shared vision to sustain these benefits into the future. It serves as a text for the growing number of leadership development programs, and for courses with a focus on higher education leadership.

From the Foreword: "This book provides indispensable guidance for those who are now—or envision themselves in the future—helping these all-important institutions navigate an uncertain future."

Doug Lederman, Editor and Co-founder, Inside Higher Ed

“Leaders with skills to help their teams and ultimately higher education organizations harness the richness of diverse individuals, ideas, and talent will be critical for future innovation and transformational change. These leadership competencies matter, whether engaging diverse colleagues in establishing shared aspirations and goals or addressing inequities or fostering inclusive environments. The more the people feel included, the more they are likely to be satisfied and the more likely they are to engage and collaborate — all of which ultimately lifts individual and organizational performance. The value of these ideas is incorporated in this book through the excellence in higher education framework, particularly on issues of culture, inclusion, diversity, and community.”

Sangeeta Lamba, MD, MS-HPEd, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

“As higher education works to address many challenges, including those of access, affordability, and public trust, the importance of thoughtful and effective leadership is clear. In this insightful book, Brent Ruben provides valuable guidance to both seasoned and aspiring leaders, including those in informal leadership roles. His well-placed emphasis on values, culture, relationships, and communication provides a critical foundation for making inclusive and sustainable change across higher education. The concluding chapters offer a useful framework for implementing and evaluating efforts to make change at every level. The just-in-time arrival of Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education will help faculty and staff leaders to make needed and lasting contributions to colleges and universities across the country.”

Catherine Shaw, Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, University of Michigan

“Dr. Brent Ruben’s five-plus decades of experience at all levels of higher education leadership come together in this timely work that speaks as strongly to department chairs and program directors as it does to university presidents and provosts. With adeptness few others can match, Ruben synthesizes knowledge about institutional change, collaborative leadership, implementation and assessment, organizational communication, and models of excellence in higher education. The end result is a book that not only contributes to our scholarly understanding of these issues but also provides higher education leaders with practical guidance in navigating the increasingly complex landscape in which we find ourselves.”

Craig R. Scott, John T. Jones, Jr., Centennial Professor and Communication Studies Department Chair, The University of Texas at Austin

“Once euphemistically described as ‘ivory towers,’ higher education institutions and academic health centers cannot claim to be immune to the far-reaching changes we are seeing across our society. Challenged by financial pressures, social inequality, the pandemic, and increasing demands and expectations from internal and external stakeholders, academic health leaders must learn to embrace change and more importantly learn to manage change in a dynamic environment. Having implemented the theory-based programming developed by Brent Ruben and his colleagues, I can attest that leaders, and their constituents, at every level across Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences have benefited. As our post COVID-19 societal landscape begins to form, leaders across academic medicine would be wise to adapt to their own institutions the principles of embracing change, developing collaborative leadership, and sharing a vision for organizational purpose.”

Brian L. Strom, Chancellor Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, and the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University.

“Faced with a perfect storm of social, financial, political, and even health-related factors, higher education and its institutions find themselves at a point of inflection – a point that begs us to reimagine all aspects of teaching, research, and the student experience. It also creates an opportunity and challenge to identify and grow transformational leaders to engage in rapid planned change rather than relying on the glacial pace of inevitable or evolutionary change. In this book, Brent Ruben describes the Excellence in Higher Education model which provides an organizational gestalt and offers realistic guidance on dealing with the complexity of our institutions. Importantly, the framework also encourages leaders to engage stakeholders in identifying opportunities for excellence and efficiency. Brent provides a structured framework for both change management and leadership development that serves as a valuable guide for campus leaders charged with defining and cultivating the future direction of their institutions and programs. As I concluded my reading of this book, I realized that I had spent the better part of 40 years figuring out what I could have understood in short order just by reading this book!”

Richard R. Burnette III, Associate Provost for Strategy and Analytics and Interim Chief Information Officer, Florida State University

This book provides a framework, practices, and behaviors to help leaders make sense of the dynamic, complex nature of higher education and to take intentional and responsive actions to drive change. Ruben’s emphasis on leveraging social capital for lasting results is particularly relevant. That collective wisdom often goes untapped, and yet it is a university’s superpower!”

Sarah L. Collie, Associate Vice President for Organizational Excellence, University of Virginia

“As a long-time student of organizational change, I have always been particularly intrigued by the challenges to change faced by education and healthcare institutions. Both institutions generally have siloed structures, very decentralized decision-making, and highly educated staff with professional expertise that is unrelated to organizational improvement and strategic innovation. For these reasons, organizational innovation is particularly hard to achieve. A mindset is needed that fosters creation of a shared vision, commitment by senior leadership, an environment of collaboration, a bias toward action, and a reliance on measurable goals and outcomes. If you realize the need for change, a guiding framework is provided by the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its adaptation to higher education through the Excellence in Higher Education Framework, with its specific guidance for higher education leaders and institutions. The compelling argument for change is the responsibility of leaders.”

Harry Hertz, Director Emeritus, Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

"Brent Ruben's insights on organizational change and Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) have inspired and guided many leaders in colleges and universities globally to embrace the challenges of leading their organizations to new pinnacles. The integration of a framework for achieving excellence along with illustrations of the models for orchestrating change in the challenging environment of academic institutions, using fundamentals of collaborative leadership principles and practices, is a brilliant collection of must-read material for anyone seeking to transform an academic institution, department, or program. Importantly, the work draws upon principles and practices developed and validated in other organizational settings and adapted to the specialized culture and traditions of higher education. Recognized for his impressive portfolio of contributions to this topic and developed from years of research and practice in supporting successful change initiatives, Dr. Ruben shares invaluable lessons and guidance for leaders in higher education endeavoring to move their organizations forward against the headwinds of newly emerging challenges facing academic institutions.”

Denis Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Management & Global Business Department, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick; and Former Vice President of Process Excellence, Worldwide Corporate Headquarters, Johnson & Johnson

“Since my first reading of Brent Ruben’s foundational book, Quality in Higher Education, twenty-three years ago, he has been an ever-present influence and benchmark for cutting-edge thoughts and actions regarding improvement of higher education administration. This most recent publication, Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education, is an exemplary capstone to a prolific career. Extending his work with Excellence in Higher Education (EHE), this book addresses major higher education challenges such as: creating a vision for change; operating from a systemic perspective; leveraging the power of collaboration; and, most importantly, making improvements sustainable. Finally, this volume identifies a plethora of highly relevant resources that those interested in expanding their knowledge and understanding of higher education administrative excellence will find invaluable.”

Ron T. Coley Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services, University of California-Riverside (retired)

“In Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education, Brent Ruben builds upon his work with the Baldrige/Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) model. Within our School, we witnessed first-hand how the framework provides an excellent foundation for accreditation, strategic planning, and adaptation to an evolving landscape. The EHE model and categories aligned very well with the standards of the accreditation framework—emphasis placed in both on leadership structures and practices; a clear a shared sense of mission, aspirations and goals; program quality assessment; data gathering from student and alumni communities, benchmarking other schools; and identifying results and trends—and using the information on outcomes for planning and continuous improvement. The concepts continue to serve our School exceptionally well as the basis for pursuing key improvement needs and planning for years to come.”

Joseph A. Barone, Dean and Distinguished Professor of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University

“Implementing Sustainable Change in Higher Education is a compelling book that will guide and inspire all leaders at all levels in your institution. Brent Ruben, using long standing principles and practices, has put together excellent resources that will assist leaders in moving through their journey to success. If you are unsure about how to move your organization forward, this book will help you find the way.”

Cindy Taylor, Assistant Vice-President for Human Resources, Carleton University

“A great irony is that while higher education offers courses and degrees for developing leaders in business, health, arts, government, and…education, it does very little to prepare and develop its own leaders. Adding to the irony is that higher education institutions splay of functions and stakeholders makes leading colleges and universities more complex than leadership in most sectors. Brent Ruben has done a great deal to address this gap. This book is a culmination of his work dedicated to providing higher education leaders with a model for leading their departments, schools, and universities. Nowhere else is there a leadership approach grounded in a proven international model, customized specifically for the higher education culture by a distinguished scholar, and adopted by literally hundreds of academic units and institutions around the world.

Maury Cotter, Director Emeritus, Strategy and Improvement, the;University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Co-founder and Past-President of Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in Higher Education (NCCI)

“As a healthcare professional engaged in leadership in higher education, I can say that this book is must-reading for all faculty seeking guidance and wisdom in meeting the challenges in today's complex, rapidly changing environments. Dr. Ruben's clearly written and well-organized text covers the absolute essentials of implementing change through collaborative leadership. The days of the rugged individualist leading change are long gone, and those seeking to implement long lasting sustainable change adapting to the new learner and scholarship landscape would do well to adhere to the principles and practices outlined in this book. Presenting a wealth of proven methods and approaches, Dr. Ruben's text is a positive contribution to outlining paths to success in higher education.”

Alfred F. Tallia, Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University; and Chair, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)

Foreword—Doug Lederman

1: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Vision for Change
A Critical Role for Leaders at This Moment in Time
Leading Change
Understand and Leverage the Dynamics of Change 
Lead Collaboratively and Engage Colleagues
Collaborative Leadership in Higher Education
A Clear and Shared Organizational Vision
EHE: The Framework and Components
Priorities for Change, Collaborative Leadership, and Innovation
Looking Ahead

2: Adopting a Systems Perspective
The EHE Framework
The Systems Perspective
Basic Concepts
Attributes of the EHE Approach
Looking Ahead

3: Leading Collaboratively

Making Sense of Leadership
Evolving Conceptions of Leaders and Leadership
The Inseparability of Leadership and Followership
Leadership Competencies
Leadership Communication Basics
Particular Challenges and Opportunities for Leaders in Higher Education
Leadership: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

4: Formulating and Implementing Strategies and Plans
Why Strategic Planning?
Why Collaborative Planning?
Essential Planning Considerations
Process Considerations
Engagement and Shared Ownership
Purposes, Plans, and Planning: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

5: Communicating with and Engaging Stakeholders
The Impact of Stakeholder Focus
Stakeholder Relationships
Stakeholder Communication
Learning From Stakeholders
Prioritizing Stakeholder Groups
Stakeholder Feedback Systems 
Beneficiary and Constituency Relationships: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

6: Evaluating Programs, Services, and Processes
Mission-Critical Programs and Services
Operational and Support Services
Mission Clarity
Alignment and Change
Disruption, Crises, and Innovation
The Role of Processes in Program and Service Effectiveness
Process Analysis
Program, Service, and Process Benchmarking
Programs and Services: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

7: Focusing on Faculty, Staff, and Culture
Faculty and Staff: Differentiated Group Identities with Shared Institutional Purposes
Evolving Roles
Complex and Evolving Concepts of Workplace
Organizational Culture and Climate
College and University Cultures and Climates
More Fundamental Issues of Culture, Diversity, Inclusion, and Community
Faculty, Staff, and Workplace Culture/Climate: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

8: Tracking Progress and Outcomes
Primary Themes
A Topic of Increasing Attention in All Sectors
Increasing Support for Assessment Practices
Steps in Assessing Progress and Outcomes
Institution-Level Assessment
Evaluating Academic Departments and Programs
Evaluating Administrative and Service Departments
Comparisons and Benchmarking Assessment
Environmental Monitoring
The Critical Role of Information and Information Systems
Assessment and Analysis: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

9: Using Information to Guide and Sustain Change
The Concept of Continuous Looping Feedback Systems
The Value of Documentation and the Systemic Use of Outcomes Information
Documentation and Display
Addressing Improvement Priorities
Summarizing Outcomes Documentation and Uses
The Continuing Process
Applications and Case Studies
Outcome and Achievement: A Summary of Key Themes
Looking Ahead

10: Implementing the Excellence in Higher Education Framework for Continuous and Transformative Change
The Purposes and Structure of this Chapter
Defining Scope, Boundaries, and Purposes
Creating an Organizational Profile
A Summary of Core EHE Themes and Priorities in Each Category
Component 1: Leadership
Component 2: Purposes and Plans 
Component 3: Beneficiary and Constituency Relationships
Component 4: Programs and Services
Commponent 5: Faculty, Staff, and Workplace Culture/Climate
Component 6: Assessment and Analysis
Component 7: Outcomes and Achievements
Looking Ahead

11: The Way Forward
Challenges and Opportunities
Planned Change, Collaborative Leadership, and Shared Vision: Three Interrelated Concepts in Principle and Practice
Complexities of Change
Collaborative Leadership: Benefits Come with Challenges
Leadership Roles: An Ensemble Cast Required
Leadership Lenses: Zooming as a Core Competency
Pursuing Organizational Aspirations: Increasing Attention to Institutional Effectiveness and Performance
Looking Back and Looking Forward
In the End

About the Author


Brent D. Ruben

Brent D. Ruben is a distinguished professor in communication at Rutgers University, where he also serves as senior university fellow, advisor for strategy and planning in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and was the founder of the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership. He is also a member of the faculties of the Rutgers PhD program in higher education and the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. Brent is author or co-author of numerous publications in communication, organizational leadership, planning, assessment, and change, including Excellence in Higher Education Guide (Stylus, 2016), What Leaders Need to Know and Do (National Association of College and University Business Officers, 2006), and Communication and Human Behavior (Kendall Hunt, 2020). Ruben was a founder of the Rutgers Department of Communication, and first PhD program director of the School of Communication and Information. He was a founder and first president of the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in Higher Education (NCCI), served as Rutgers inaugural liaison and is a frequent contributor to the Big Ten Academic Alliance leadership programs, and serves as an adviser to colleges and universities has and nationally and internationally.

collaborative leadership; shared organizational vision; transformative change; stakeholder viewpoints; dynamics of change; collaboration