There’s no denying that higher education is at a moment in time that will require leaders to develop new knowledge, new skills and new ways of thinking to move forward successfully. Colorado State University is responding to these challenges by investing in developing the expertise of mid-career administrators.
Since April, Paula Mills, chief of staff and operations for the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Albert Bimper, Jr., associate professor in Ethnic Studies and assistant vice president of Student Athlete Support Services, have been part of the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship program. They are in the second cohort of the program, which includes 50 representatives from 35 colleges and universities.
“It’s such an honor to be part of this impressive group,” Mills said. “It’s exciting to be learning from each other about different approaches to understanding and solving problems we all face in higher education.”
The purpose of the fellowship has three components:
- Supporting professional development to help leaders navigate through this defining moment in higher education;
- Creating a unique community of practice with other fellows; and
- Incorporating various perspectives and ideas into EAB’s ongoing research.
“Based on our work with university presidents and cabinets, we’ve identified the most important areas for rising leaders to grow their expertise,” David Felsenthal, CEO of EAB, wrote in the letter accepting Bimper and Mills into the program. “We look forward to bringing rising leaders together to help troubleshoot ideas in real time, share experiences, and form connections to support one another even beyond the fellowship’s conclusion.”
CSU is a long-time member of EAB, which provides a customized blend of research, technology and services to 2,100 participating schools from kindergarten to college in three key areas: enrollment management, student success and institutional operations and strategy. The President’s Office has recently expanded the university’s membership to allow all faculty and staff members access to its research and other programs, such as leadership development.
“Through our partnership with EAB, we have access to a range of incredibly valuable resources to help us serve our students and our community better every day,” said CSU President Joyce McConnell. “Their new fellowship program is one of the most valuable of those resources because it allows us to connect several of our talented developing leaders to EAB’s higher ed expertise and then bring that back to CSU.”
EAB access might be one of the university’s most valuable but overlooked benefits.
“Before starting this fellowship, I had no idea the depth of resources we had available through EAB,” Bimper said. “I look forward to digging into it more, even after the fellowship is over.”
After the first few virtual meetings, both Mills and Bimper said they have been motivated by the fellowship program to learn about best practices and perhaps move beyond them.
“It is exciting to be exposed to people from different institutions and learning from national peers,” Bimper said. “It’s inspiring to be among these peers who are thinking creatively about challenges and opportunities of higher education.”
Fellows were required to choose a topic based on their area of interest and work with a partner from another institution to develop a final project addressing an actual issue the university may be facing.
Mills was paired with someone from the Provost’s Office at the University of Arizona to explore opportunities in interdisciplinary collaboration across teaching, research and engagement. Bimper and his partner from the Townsend University Provost’s office are focused on cascading strategic goals, an issue that is extremely relevant as CSU initiates President Joyce McConnell’s Courageous Strategic Transformation process.
“I’m typically focused at the college level, within the College of Agricultural Sciences, while the Provost’s Office is responsible for all 17 colleges at the University of Arizona,” Mills said. “I’m looking forward to learning from that broader perspective.”
The fellowship continues through December, when all the participants will present their findings to the universities’ presidents and executive leaders as well as other members of the cohort.
But that’s not the end. Fellows are expected to take their ideas back to their campuses and incorporate them into transformative action – in CSU’s case, as part of the Courageous Strategic Transformation.
“As we continue our work on Courageous Strategic Transformation, I am excited about the ways that Albert and Paula’s experiences will enrich that process,” McConnell added.
Tap into the power of EAB
Any CSU faculty or staff member can access the wealth of data and research from EAB. All it takes is your colostate.edu email to create an account at eab.com and start exploring topics from student success to strategy and operations. Whatever the topic, CSU’s membership opens up a world of feature articles, analytics and insights from experts from schools, colleges and universities around the nation as well as workshops, webinars and professional development opportunities.