Selected Books on Education and Education Administration 教育及教育行政
This book is a case study on Elon University, a private Christian university in North Carolina. It presents the history of its turnaround and how the leaders of Elon did it. Forty years ago, Elon was struggling to attract students and to remain solvent. Today, it is one of the most desirable universities in America. I did find this fact on the web site, www.collegedirt.com.
Although Elon is in Higher Education (as opposed to being in Business), the principles are the same. Elon went through a thorough strategic formulation process to choose the group of students that they wanted to attract. This was followed by a set of comprehensive strategic initiatives to attract and retain the targeted students and to enhance internal management.
We can derive that, turning out employable students is the inevitable ultimate outcome required to sustain success in higher education. Besides having students learn the specific knowledge in their majors, one of the things that Elon did was extending the General Education curriculum to educate the whole student in five areas: leadership, international studies and experiences, community service, undergraduate research, and internships and cooperative work apprenticeships.
This book is in-depth and useful to higher education administrators. There are relatively fewer books in this subject area (as compared to the number of books in Business). I hope that we can have more similar resources available so as to learn from them.
Written: July 27, 2006
I bought this book a few months ago. This book is a handbook for academic department chairs. It covers many practical topics, such as recruiting and hiring faculty members, building
and maintaining morale, time-saving tips for effective chairs, etc. It is detailed and a must-read for all chairs and chairs-to-be. Although this book was
published in 1998, it contains a lot of timeless wisdom. A more recent edition was just published on November 1, 2006.
Written: December 7, 2006
This books talks about how to prepare oneself to apply for all levels of administrative jobs in Higher Education. The emphasis is on matching one's values
with those of a prospective university. The authors guide such job candidates step-by-step in the job application process: from writing the best resume to making the transition
to the new job. It is the Knock'em Dead for the Higher Education field. The advice provided is detailed and practical. One of the authors is an experienced search consultant
herself. The othe author is an academic program administrative director.
Although this book is not useful to me immediately. it is good to know how such a search process usually takes place for my information.
Written: October 25, 2007
This is a very concise book that comprises a series of essays about the US education system. To me, the most enlightening points are (1) the
contribution of the proper liberal arts education to the future of our society, (2) the description on the liberally educated person, and (3)
the contemporary issues in Higher Education.
The author is an advocate of teaching students how to live a life, instead of just training students to be skillful in earning a living. He elaborates on the qualities of a liberally educated person in a very articulate manner: one who is genuinely devoted to the truth and can ask the right question before providing a right answer, one who is comfortable in any situation, one who can communicate with and learn from anyone, one who possesses certain humility and tends to be self-critical but tolerant of others. Such a person is most "disinclined to fall under the sway of prejudice, to succumb to hate, or to join dangerous and mindless movements (p. 38)."
The author honestly talks about the disadvantages of having a unionized university faculty. A very encouraging concept discussed is the fact that, "a teach does, indeed, affects eternity and can never tell where his or her influence stops (p. 44)." However, the author does not mention assessment and accountability issues, such as how to measure whether universities are doing a good job turning out ideal liberally educated people.
Overall, this book is easy to read and the opinions presented are very moderate.
Written: December 5, 2007
This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.
This is a book that pinpoints specific issues in Higher Education and how to handle them properly as an administrator.
Each chapter of this book discusses a particular difficult issue in higher education administration. Examples include specific
"hot-shot" faculty asking for unfair favors, the handling of controversial issues between faculty members and students, negotiation
for shared resources across departments, and handling adult bullies, etc. Each chapter begins with a mini-case to illustrate the difficult problem
involved. Then it discusses the related issues and how to handle every detail. At the end of each chapter, it presents the solution for
Reading this book enhanced my understanding of academic issues from an administrator's point of view. I had always thought that managing a higher education institution was less challenging than managing a Fortune-500 company. On the surface, it seemed that everything would just go by the book. Now I know that, it is far more complex than going by the book, though knowing "the book" is crucial. Being a college administrator has its own set of challenges: managing faculty members who do not want to be managed. Due to the employment structure (with tenured faculty, faculty who can bring in a vast amount of resources: publication and research grants, etc.), it is not entirely a direct command-and-control situation. In addition, since a university environment is quite decentralized, there are a lot of complicated interpersonal power issues among faculty, graduate assistants, and students.
I think that, explicitly communicating the mission, goals, policies, and expected proper professional behavior to all new employees and new students in detail and in writing ahead of time is equally important. This way, at least every party would have the proper information before problems happen. In addition, this book also implicitly tells job seekers what to look for when applying for an administrative position in Higher Education. To me, it is well-articulated mission and goals, as well as well-established policies that are fair to all parties.
Overall, this book shows that the author is knowledgeable and familiar with the subject matter. It should be very helpful to higher education administrators or administrators-to-be.
This review is also posted on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.
Written: April 26, 2008
I finished reading this book about one month ago. This book is a compilation of institutional assessment good practices. It talks about both academic and co-curricular program reviews with several
cases as examples. I am glad that the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University is one of the cases chosen. Based on my own experience and
observation throughout the years, the quality of their student services has improved a lot since, well, 1986, when I first attended graduate school there.
Chapter two of the book talks about the importance of quality assurance and external accountability in Higher Education in a way that is convincing.
Chapter three is a basic guide to performing a program review. It presents a template for the review report. Basically, it is a short overview of the "how-to"
part of doing a program review. Then, chapter 4 discusses the criteria of good practices of outcome-based assessment program review. Examples include (1) clear understanding of goals and
expectations for program review, (2) collaboration, (3) use of results, (4) awards and recognition, and (5) resources to support program review, etc. Chapter seven talks about
long-term measures for improving program assessment.
The major contribution of this book lies in the nuggets of wisdom from the university program assessment good practices. Such examples include (1) let the faculty be involved in what to assess and how to do assessment, (2) promote faculty's affiliation with the institution, so as to remove existing disincentives to participation in university citizenship (faculty need to see how they contribute to the decision-making process of program improvement), (3) administrative leaders must show that they value assessment and faculty must understand the negative consequence of not doing it, and (4) use assessment results for improvement, faculty/staff development (not for reprimanding nor personnel decisions), for informing strategic planning, and for implementing institutional goals. Solid evidence-based program reviews can offset to-be-improved outside rankings.
This is a good book for administrators who would like to improve program assessment of their institutions.
Written: August 23, 2008
A version of this review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.
Initially, I read this book to understand how to write my part of the report that will go with our upcoming WASC Educational Effectiveness visit. It gives a good explanation on
the process of collecting valid evidence for preparing such an important accreditation component.
In addition, I found much advice on how to do program assessment. The useful points are as below:
1. In order to motivate program directors to be more engaged in assessment activities, besides educating them that the annual review is to reduce the workload for upcoming five-year reviews, if a university can also promote the concept and culture of continual improvement to both a program and the program director's own performance, this may be able to motivate them even more.
2. It may be worthwhile to have sections "Strengths" and "Weaknesses" of the program for the directors to fill in when they do the assessment analysis. The "Strengths" section can minimize the resistance and document real strengths from which other directors can learn.
3. It may be worthwhile to have a section called "Structural Impediments" for a program director to express the constraints faced by him/her. Making these constraints explicit may open up discussion and the search for solutions university-wide.
4. If an external reviewer can be used to review an assessment, there will be some advantages. First, this external person can ask sharp questions that internal people may refrain from asking for political reasons. Second, this external reviewer may also comment on the relevance of a program in the real world.
5. If the cost of running a program is a concern among administrators, they can consider whether to include cost information of running a program within that year under assessment. This will be data supplied by the Office of Institutional Research.
Overall, I have learned something useful about assessment through reading this book.
I have to make a disclaimer here: I read this book several months ago the above is derived from the suggestions that I wrote to a fellow colleague, when I mentioned this book to him. Some of the above points are directly from this book. Some may be derived by myself after reading it.
Written: September 15, 2008
This is a well-written book about many aspects of budget proposal and management in Higher Education. It begins with
an introduction to the context in which a budget manager works. Then, it presents different types of budgets and the elements in
a budget: revenue and expenses. It also educates readers about managing budgets, the possible pitfalls, and feasible solutions along the way.
In this book, the major themes of budget writing and management include: good and thorough planning leading to good budgets, external factors in the environment are to be included in the budgeting process to have an accurate financial forecast which may need to cover several years into the future, and the importance of a budget manager cultivating a positive network with colleagues in the organization, etc.
This book is comprehensive and also practical for budget managers in Higher Education. It is also very suitable for readers who are new in this area and would like to get the big picture of how budgets are handled in Higher Education.
This review is also published on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.
Written: June 5, 2012
This is a very practical book about analyzing and evaluating academic programs in a higher education institution and prioritizing them for different possible future actions.
It first presents the need for educational reform in this era of fiscal tightening in the US. Then it discusses the importance of having proper leadership in this whole process. A comprehensive set of criteria for program analysis and a few methods for evaluating academic programs are presented. It also discusses some possible sticky process issues that should be anticipated, the range of possible decisions that are to be made with the results of program evaluation, and the necessary actions that need to be taken for proper decision implementation. Finally, the delicate and sensitive process of program prioritization is viewed strategically as achieving balance in twelve dimensions.
This book is valuable to higher education administrators because of the comprehensive advice the author gives. The administrators, who are responsible for this tough task of program prioritization, can use this book as a reference. The discussion on various foreseeable issues is especially important for doing such a delicate task right. The comprehensive list of program analysis criteria is also very useful to program directors who are designing or managing academic programs.
This book is clearly written and easy to understand.
This review is also published on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.
Written: June 26, 2012