Category Archives: Management

Sexy bedside reading for the Canadian higher ed professional

When I was an over-confident youngster destined for greatness, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my bedside reading would include a title like SEM in Canada: Promoting student and institutional success in Canadian colleges and universities.  And yet, here I am, transfixed by chapters on “Evidence-based Decision Making” and “Branding: The Promise, The Process and The Pay Off”. I know many of you think I’m joking – and my image would be best preserved if I let you continue thinking I’m more interesting than I really am – but the truth is I’m being quite honest. This 350-page book on the nuts and bolts of getting students in the door and successfully out the other end – otherwise known as Strategic Enrolment Management – is actually pretty engaging. It might not be the next Girl With the Dragon Tatoo but it’s accessible, cogent and instructive. If your job – or your next job – has anything to do with helping students get to the right program, in the right school for them, with the right supports to help them be successful, and understanding how all of the pieces fit together, you will learn something in these pages. Continue reading


Why leadership in higher education is like driving a nail through blancmange

A review of:
Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education
by Michael Fullan & Geoff Scott, Jossey-Bass, 2009

I have spent the better part of the last decade trying to understand, from the inside, what makes institutions of higher education change. We all purport to be in the midst of it – change, that is – with strategic visions and plans that call for us to “build on our strengths”  or “define our dreams.”  Let me guess, your institution’s plan says something about…increasing enrolment/graduate enrolment/international enrolment, improving your profile/reputation regionally/nationally/internationally, probably talks about some “pillars” and sets a lofty goal around “improving the overall student experience”, the part that gets us student affairs types all giddy.

And yet, despite all the effort – townhall meetings and consultation sessions, green papers and white papers, beautifully designed strategic plan websites and glossy brochures ­– the returns on investment are often ambiguous, marginal or incremental, and rarely transformative. Continue reading

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Write new blog post. Check!

Getting Things Done coverI am reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by management consultant David Allen. I have only read one-third of the book. I want to finish the book. I want to finish the book because I want to write a review on my blog about it. Applying Allen’s method, here’s how I proceed:

1. Collect things that command my attention. Writing a blog post is one of many things — including getting new glasses, developing a student survey and preparing the 2010-11 budget for my department –commanding my attention right now. I collect them all in a little application called NoteBook. But you could use any “bucket” to collect all your stuff — as long as it’s all in one place. Continue reading