The New Leadership Academy has always intended to demonstrate how leadership development must evolve in order to address the changing competencies, skills, and compassion needed to lead higher education institutions in the twenty-first century United States. The relevance of this approach has proven to become increasingly important as our country and institutions of higher education grappled with equity issues that were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued surge in collective calls for racial justice.
The New Leadership Academy Fellows Program (NLA) curriculum and learning strategies draw upon traditional leadership theory and contemporary scholarship that investigates the roles of leaders under highly contested and complex conditions. This pedagogical approach will empower institutional and organizational leaders with the knowledge, tools, and courage needed to lead effectively on their campuses and across the system of higher education. The NLA experience is organized around a specific and informed set of core competencies, which have been determined through the input of professional organizations, scholars, and practitioners (see Figure 1). The core competencies are reviewed and updated through a cycle of curriculum evaluation and iterative improvement.
The NLA program includes residential sessions, online materials and engagement, and collaboration opportunities. Each cohort attends one residential session at the 5-day Summer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. During their time at the Summer Institute, Fellows work in small teams with a highly experienced leadership Coach to engage in learning modules that engage topics within leading for equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. Curriculum is informed by the scholarship and leadership work of scholars in this area, as well as the NLA Advisory Board and NLA Alumni.
Drawing on scholarship, contemporary events, and the experiences of both NLA Fellows and other leaders in higher education, NLA seeks to stimulate change by equipping Fellows with the knowledge, tools, and courage to lead within their institutions and across the higher education system. During the course of the Fellows Program, Fellows engage in a range of interactive modules, which include presentations and workshops, consultations with esteemed leaders in higher education, live case studies, group discussions, and individual reflections.
The NLA curriculum is organized around several carefully chosen heuristics. The ecological model (Figure 2) is one example. In its simplest form, the model provides a representation of connections between individuals, institutions, and society. Each learning module has been designed to consider one or more aspects of this ecology, to address the required leadership skills, and to support Fellows in overcoming barriers and enacting equitable practices across the ecology.
NLA Summer Institute
The Summer Institute curriculum is organized so that each day’s learning modules build upon the team and individual work done by the Fellows leading up to and during the Institute. Throughout the week, Fellows engage in a multifaceted case study simulation that is designed to examine a contemporary issue in higher education. The case study, managed through a series of online interactions and team collaboration, is enhanced with interviews, background exhibits, and proprietary information. Each team is expected to assess a particular institutional setting informed by the activities and learning strategies provided throughout the NLA Fellows Program. Both the residential session and the online collaborations have been tested with a range of previous participants, achieving high receptivity and significant learning outcomes related to the core competencies.
Fellows should be prepared to view themselves as co-constructors of their own learning as it will be the experiences, perspectives, and insights of the participants that ultimately inform and enhance the overall experience.