Type of Document Dissertation Author Low, Justin Robert URN etd-05212010-030054 Title Resilience in Academic Administration: Leading Higher Education in Times of Change Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Dale Lick Committee Co-Chair Joseph Beckham Committee Co-Chair Robert Schwartz Committee Member Shouping Hu Committee Member Lance deHaven-Smith University Representative Keywords
- Academic Deans
- Department Chairs
- Change in Higher Education
- University Administrators
- Educational Leadership
Date of Defense 2010-04-26 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this investigation was to determine the resilience levels of university administrators, specifically academic deans and department chairs, within a state university system. Resilience, the ability to operate in a changing environment while consistently maintaining one’s effectiveness, is a critical component to the success of higher education institutions. Higher education today is operating in a constantly evolving environment with changes in technology, student demographics, educational policy, and other internal and external factors, all contributing to a challenging milieu. Given this environment of change, it is imperative that higher education professionals are able to operate effectively and be successful despite these adversities. Organizational leaders’ ability to be resilient and deal with these challenges makes resilience one of the important tools that higher education professionals can use to be successful in a changing environment.
Resilient academic administrators, who are able to maintain their effectiveness during difficult times, can help meaningfully lead institutions of higher education in what are dynamic environments. It is important, then, that individuals and organizations understand the value of resilience and how it can contribute to the effectiveness and success of their institutions. Resilience and how it can benefit institutions of higher education are central to this study.
This quantitative study utilized the survey method to determine the resilience levels of academic deans and department chairs within a state university system. Responses were received from 35 deans and 123 chairs, each of whom completed the Personal Resilience Questionnaire, a survey developed by Conner Partners that measures individuals’ resilience and addresses how the respondent acts, feels, or thinks given various situations. Results are provided for each of the seven characteristics of resilience: Positive: The World, Positive: Self, Focused, Flexible: Thoughts, Flexible: Social, Organized and Proactive.
The results of the surveys illustrated the levels of resilience for both deans and chairs and compared their results against the more than 64,000 other individuals who have completed the instrument. The Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression method was then utilized to determine which demographic factors were influential in determining an individual’s resilience. The researcher was thus able to identify that academic deans, on the average, exhibited higher levels of resilience than did department chairs, and subsequently that female administrators, on the average, were more resilient than males. It was also discovered that when compared against individuals from other industries and professions that academic administrators exhibited above-average levels of resilience in almost every resilience characteristic. Furthermore, it was shown that gender, institutional type, experience, size of the college/department supervised, parental influence, formal training and incentive were influential in determining resilience levels.
The results of this study helped to highlight areas of strength and potential areas for improvement for higher education institutions. The identification of resilience levels within academic administration can assist university leaders in understanding whether their institutions are maximizing their potential for operating effectively during times of change. Furthermore, these results focus on an aspect of higher education leadership that has not been adequately addressed in past literature, as well as introduce a new concept that that has not been studied before in this context – resilience.
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