Thursday, July 19, 2012

On Leadership and Building an Enduring Great Institution
I have been reading Jim Collins' Good to Great along with Good to Great and the Social Sectors as part of a book study with fellow educators.  I also recently read a faculty address by Dr. Gordon E. Gee, president of The Ohio State University, on A Blueprint for the 21st Century University (see the link at the bottom of the page for the full address).  So where is the connection?  It's two-fold: Leadership and Building an Enduring Great Institution.

In his address, President Gee espouses a blueprint for the 21st century university that includes thinking outside of the box when it comes to funding, achievement, learning environments, research, and developing programs to ensure student academic success. I believe much of this blueprint requires a Good to Great mentality or as Dr. Gee states in his address Excellence to Eminence.

Jim Collins speaks of level five leadership, which embodies a mix of professional will and personal humility.  Additionally, he speaks of building greatness to last.  These type of leaders are driven to do whatever it takes to create great companies/institutions that are lasting and they are quick to take the blame when things are not working but quickly give credit to others when things are working. As Dr. Gee states,  "It is about something larger than any individual in this room or any group of individuals on campus. Frankly, we will all come and go. It is about a University with 140 years of history."  Based upon these quotes and others in the address, Dr. Gee is definitely interested in OSU being a great and lasting institution of higher education.  Further throughout his address, there are numerous snippets praising specific people for their roles in OSU's continued march toward eminence and pointed nods on continuing to cultivate leaders amongst the faculty, staff and administration.

As I think about the future of K-12 public education, there are many parallels to Dr. Gee's blueprint; you could easily substitute out university/higher education with the blueprint for K-12 public education.  There are many forces such as student learning styles, economics, technology, public expectations, and politics to name a few that are colliding to reshape the landscape of education.  As a result, we must, as Dr. Gordon E. Gee states, "re-think, re-imagine, and reinvigorate how and what you teach."  In the end we must, honor our best traditions and practices, while continuing to pursue the necessary changes when it comes to student learning, achievement, learning environments, funding, research, and developing programs to ensure student academic success in the 21st century.