Serie Center Academic Leadership Seminar

Through funding from the Mellon Next Stages Grant, the Serie Center is pleased to announce the Academic Leadership Seminar. The goal of this year-long program is to work with a group of mid-career faculty to develop perspectives and knowledge that will allow them to work more effectively as institutional leaders. This program provides faculty an opportunity to learn to “think institutionally,” when faced with complex institutional issues that affect faculty life and student education. Participants will work in teams of two or three on an institutional project of their interest.

Faculty will gain:

  • Knowledge of the major issues and challenges faced in American higher education, liberal arts colleges and Macalester.
  • Working knowledge of how Macalester is “put together” – the various tasks that must be accomplished in order for the institution to function, and how these tasks are divided into the organizational units of the college.
  • Knowledge of the challenges faced within each of the operational units of the college; knowledge of the resource limits within which each unit operates and how trade-offs are made within these constraints; the impact of these challenges and limits on the academic program and education of our students.
  • Knowledge of how critical decisions are made at the institutional level – how information gets channeled, sorted and prioritized in the decision-making process.
  • Perspectives on the nature and role of academic leadership in such areas as mentoring faculty at various stages in their careers, managing academic staff and faculty, developing department and college curriculum, facilitating decision-making within resource constraints, managing and balancing workload, evaluating progress, facilitating change, and negotiating difficult situations.

Participants receive $2000 in stipend or FTR. The seminar will meet on Thursdays from 11:30-1:00.

The Application Process: Please submit electronically to Adrienne Christiansen (

Applicants should write a brief statement that addresses the following questions: 1) Why are you interested in participating in the Mid-Career Seminar? 2) In what ways or areas would you like to make a greater contribution to Macalester in service or leadership?

Seminar participants will be chosen from among those who apply in consultation with RPC. Preference will be given to faculty who are “mid-career” (generally, Associate Professors but circumstances may vary; “late” Assistant Professors; and “early” Full Professors will also be considered) who have demonstrated interests in leadership at the departmental, divisional or college level, and whose development through the seminar is likely to have an enduring impact on Macalester’s future. Because effective academic citizenship is based on the ability to constructively engage a wide variety of perspectives, the diversity of the participant group will also be a factor in the selection process.

Tentative Topics

  • Major Issues in Higher Education
  • History of American Higher Education and the Liberal Arts College
  • The College Budget
    • Categories in income and expenditure
    • How budgetary decisions are made
    • Budget stresses, comparisons, opportunities
  • Staff at Macalester
    • What do staff do?
    • Issues in staffing
  • Legal Issues in Higher Education
  • The Admissions Process
    • How do we market ourselves and what are our challenges?
    • How do we recruit and admit students?
    • Faculty roles
  • Financial Aid
    • General issues of access and Macalester’s special circumstances
  • Understanding Student Experience
    • “Out of classroom” experiences for students
    • The Millennials and Neomillenials
  • Information Technology
    • Current stresses and future prospects
  • Fundraising
    • Structure of College Advancement
    • Fundraising Challenges
    • Foundations that support higher education
  • Assessment
    • What is assessment?
    • How can we do it well?
    • Consequences of doing it badly or not at all
  • Is Faculty Governance an Oxymoron?
    • The special challenges of academic leadership
    • Civil discourse in a culture of critical analysis
    • Who leads and why? Incentives, cultural assumptions & stereotypes
    • Developing collective priorities in a pluralistic community
  • Topics To Be Determined by the Seminar Participants
  • Special Projects and Case Studies