Internal Leadership Training for Faculty and Academic Administrators Reaps Big Rewards

It is both expensive and time-consuming on many levels to launch a national search for every academic leadership position on campus.  Sometimes, of course, a national search is warranted for a Dean or for a Provost, but for other positions, such as department chairs, program directors, assistant and associate deans and associate/provosts, having a trained and ready “back bench” may be the best solution to maintain desired progress and efficiencies.  Admittedly, there are reasons to desire external candidates when changes and fresh perspectives are desired, but that is not always the case.  More often than not, leadership laments that there are no internal candidates ready to move up.

When colleges and universities want to retain their best, most creative, ambitious, and competent faculty and academic administrators, it is important for these people to sense a career path if they stay at the institution, and it is important to invest in their professional development so that they feel valued. With these two complementary goals in mind, the Touro College Academy of Leadership and Management (TCALM) was implemented five years ago in 2018.

Developed by two faculty members in the Graduate School of Education (see, Bobley and Sebel, 2020), along with the chair of the business department they facilitate nine monthly sessions over the course of a calendar year.  Participants are selected through a competitive application process that includes an essay explaining why the person desires to participate in the program and what they hope to get out of it, along with a letter of recommendation from their dean/chair, also indicating that they understand and support the time commitment. Only 10-12 people are selected for the annual cohort.   

Among the leadership best practices that participants explore through readings, case studies, and highly interactive sessions are:

•           Defining the environment: vision and strategy

•           Collaboration and team-building skills

•           Time management and managing multiple demands

•           Managing up and across the organization and political savvy

•           Motivating, developing, and rewarding faculty

•           Resource development: human and financial

•           Equity and ethical and culturally responsive leadership

•           Delivering results: enrollment growth and new program initiatives

•           Telling one’s story and external messaging

Senior leaders throughout the University system participate as presenters throughout the year, often introducing faculty and academic administrators to people and job functions that they were previously unaware of.  One of the program highlights occurs on program graduation day when participants who had been assigned to small groups during the very first session, pitch a team proposal in a “shark tank” like format to the University President, Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost of the Graduate and Professional Divisions, and the Vice President of the Undergraduate Division.  The proposal is based on a year of research including interviews and meetings with various departments across the University, and represents the team’s best idea for an economical new initiative they would be willing to work on post-graduation to help advance the University.  Proposals have been innovative and have focused on topics including faculty development, student success, mentoring for students and mentoring for faculty, advisement, and retention.

The program facilitators conduct an assessment each year though anonymous surveys of participants, allowing for continued improvements.  We have also tracked people who are promoted following participation (e.g., two people became associate deans for academic affairs at their schools), people who are tapped for other leadership roles on task forces and committees, and people who leave the institution for external promotion opportunities.   Now that the fifth cohort has graduated, our plan is to take a pause in 2023 and conduct a thorough assessment by surveying all alumni, the deans and chairs, and speakers/presenters, as well as to assess the status/success of the proposed team projects that were implemented.

In my opinion as Provost, the leadership academy has been successful.  Faculty and academic administrators have received the benefit of management and leadership training, it has helped to identify future leaders, excellent new initiatives have been implemented that might not have otherwise been on the agenda had the groups not presented their developed ideas to senior leadership, and the program has proven useful for succession planning.

*Patricia Salkin, Touro University, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for the Graduate and Professional Divisions


Laurie Bobley, EdD and Alan Sebel, EdD, “Leadership Development: One College’s Solution,” Academic Leader (March 2, 2020).

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