Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Leadership Toolkit

Leadership Handbook


On Leadership in STEM
P. Uri Treisman, Professor of Mathematics, University of Texas at Austin
Leadership in disseminating ideas about reforms and about the process of reform is key to the strength of the 21st century undergraduate STEM community. In this essay, Treisman identifies his notion of "leadership" and he concludes that successful leaders inspire people to work collectively for the greater good.

Characteristics of the Ideal Department
A Set of Benchmarks developed by 2002 Summer Institute Participants. One of the strengths of these benchmarks is that they were developed by faculty, in the context of exploring how new pedagogies, technologies, and advances in science set forth new challenges and opportunities for persons assuming responsibility for leadership of departments and programs (hereafter called departmental leaders).


A. Serving Students and Learning

Linking Departmental & Institutional Mission: The Morehouse College Experience
J.K. Haynes, Dean of the Division of Science & Mathematics, Morehouse College
Morehouse College revised their biology curriculum to include more laboratory requirements and a research-intensive elective sequence. The college wanted to create a research- and resource-rich learning environment, but before they succeeded, a number of key barriers had to be overcome.

New Strategies for Learning Biology
Carey R. Phillips, Department of Biology, Bowdoin College
Digital communication, the Internet, access to networked databases, computer games, and other types of interactive environments have shaped the cognitive abilities of students since before they were in middle school. Yet, for the most part, college instruction still follows the more traditional methods of a hundred years ago, failing to address the ways students gather and use information now and will in the future, and failing to take advantage of how technology can enhance the learning process.

A Technology Enabled Learning Environment
J.B. Sharma, Professor of Physics, Division of Science, Gainesville College
A two-year college in Gainesville, Georgia constructed a new science facility that promotes interactivity, collaboration, competition, and fun in learning. Technology is used to integrate teaching and learning in a philosophically coherent and accessible manner.

Departmental Matrix: Department of Geology at Carleton College
Mary E. Savina, Edward Buchwald, David M. Bice & Shelby J. Boardman, Carleton College
The Geology Department at Carleton College developed a matrix of skills covered in their existing geology courses. The matrix is a simple spreadsheet that indicates which skills are developed in which courses. The matrix was devised to enable the department to design new courses to ensure students graduate with the necessary skills geologists need to succeed.

Experience in Becoming Learners in the Assessment Community
Maureen Scharberg, Associate Professor of Chemistry, San Jose State University
A story about one professor's attempt to assess student learning. One project was undertaken to formally evaluate the chemistry curriculum in a non-major course. A second evaluation project involved analyzing instructor and student web-based field testing surveys of a curricular textbook.

B. Enhancing Faculty Careers

Investing in Faculty: Report on Project Kaleidoscope 2001 - 2002
Faculty are key to implementing reforms that are meaningful and long-lived. PKAL continually seeks to develop a cadre of leaders in undergraduate STEM and this essay describes lessons learned over the past several years regarding enhancing faculty leadership. It also suggests some issues yet to be addressed by the larger STEM community.

Setting an Agenda for Action
Here, one finds guidelines for developing an "Agenda for Action" for faculty and administrators for the academic year. These agendas should address new tools for teaching, evaluating those tools, and connecting with colleagues while implementing the agenda.

Report on the PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century (F21) Leadership Institutes
An analysis of the experience of participants in the eight Leadership Institutes sponsored by PKAL for a select group of Faculty for the 21st Century. These institutes provided a setting for the F21 network to explore the nature of leadership. F21 faculty also deliberated on potential leadership opportunities on and off their campuses.

A Personal Story: Developing People and Programs
John B. Conway, Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Conway believes a department head's most important task is to develop people and programs. When faculty recall their department head, they will not remember whether or not the chair could balance a budget. Rather, faculty will remember if the department head developed and maintained successful people and programs and left a lasting impression as a result.

C. Connecting to Emerging Scientific and Technological Fields

Learning Goals for Biology Programs
Board on Life Sciences, National Research Council
The Board on Life Sciences of the National Research Council recently released a report entitled BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. This report sets forth a set of recommended learning goals for biology programs, as well as concepts from other STEM disciplines with which biology students should be familiar.

20 Questions Deans Should Ask Their Mathematics Departments
Lynn A. Steen, Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College
These questions include: "Have you calculated the true cost of the status quo?" "What are your priorities for teaching assignments?" "Does your curriculum meet the postgraduation needs of your students?"

Complex Environmental Systems, Synthesis for Earth, Life, and Society in the 21st Century
National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE)
The AC-ERE focused on environmental concerns that cross disciplinary boundaries. They considered numerous environmental science and engineering reports, along with considerable public comment. The final product provides NSF with guidance regarding environmental research and education.

Occasional Paper on Neuroscience
In 1995, PKAL held a workshop to establish interdisciplinary connections in neuroscience. The report describes the workshop presentations given by five neuroscience departments. It also provides blueprints for different (major, minor, etc.) neuroscience programs as well as personal stories of success from various campuses.

D. Building a Collaborating Natural Science Community

Communication in Reform
Melvin D. George, President Emeritus, University of Missouri System Administration
The most common complaint about administrators is that they do not communicate. All too often, administrators seek to make changes without an adequate communications plan in place. In order to maintain long-lasting reform, administrators must communicate with colleagues and faculty.

The Department Thermometer
This document is used to measure the level of intent to build community within your department. Building community must be centered around serving the needs of all departmental majors, regardless of their background or career aspirations.

Ideas for Preparation for Departmental Reviews
Neal Abraham, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Faculty, DePauw University
Provides a comprehensive list of issues to address before a departmental review in order to ensure the best use of time during the review itself. A list of key questions administrators and faculty should ask during the review is also provided. Lastly, a list of resources from the American Association of Physics Teachers is provided.

Key Characteristics of Good Departmental Leadership
Lee W. Willard, Associate Dean for Academic Planning & Special Projects, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University
The greatest challenge for academic leaders is overcoming the resistance to change that is often encountered during reform activities. Deans and chairs must combat such resistance by developing, communicating, and executing an academic vision. An illustration about successfully overcoming resistance is presented here.


A. Leadership Initiatives

Leadership Initiatives
The premise of these initiatives is to engage participants in activities related to developing specific leadership skills. They provide experiential learning opportunities for use during retreats and departmental planning sessions. The initiatives can also be used to develop a sustained dialogue regarding leadership. Following the exercise, participants are asked to evaluate their experience by asking questions including: "How many different ways were used to communicate messages?" and "Can you name a feeling you had at any point in completing the activity?"

B. Stories from Campuses

One Institutional Story: Lawrence University
Adapted from David Cook, John Brandenberger, Jeffrey Collett & Matthew Stoneking. Page 38/39. Academic Excellence. Michael Doyle, Editor. Research Corporation. 2000
Lawrence University lists their over-arching strategy to achieving their reform goals. This list includes setting goals, student involvement, and exploring potential funding sources.

Keck Consultations
Many institutions have requested a Keck consultation to aid them in their reform efforts. Keck consultants aid institutions in curricular reform, facility construction, pedagogical innovations, etc. However, before a consultation occurs, many leaders on campus must demonstrate the ability to galvanize influential players. Institutions that have received a consultation and have addressed various issues share their stories of leadership and reform.