Today’s educational climate is a hot one with institutions of all types vying to enroll the highest number of students. Cutting edge programs, ones that will almost guarantee students careers after graduation, are being developed at a rapid rate. Innovative marketing draws attention to these programs along with the institutions themselves as they desperately try to keep up with the academic Joneses. The competition is fierce, that is certain, and those of us in higher education know we cannot forsake quality for quantity. How do we keep enrollment up while also adhering to high educational standards? One answer we’ve found at the small, liberal arts college where I work is the implementation of flex courses.

Are you considering writing more this year? Do you wish to become a published author? If so, check out my Coauthoring: A Pathway to Publication article. If you read that and/or are already on you path to publication, I have some tips for you to become a better writer this year. This can help for both academic and nonacademic writing.

Frozen in Time

Are you a doer? Or do you sit back and wish you can do something but are afraid, unsure, or lack the confidence? Many of us are afraid to take those steps needed to get us started on a new career, launch our business, or dive into a new opportunity. Some of us sit in the shadows and wish we can be like those “successful” people. Others even talk themselves out of it! I used to be one of those people that wished someday I can do great things such as, become a speaker, a researcher, a writer, or open my own business. I mean, puny me? I thought I was meant to be someone’s right hand didn’t realize I can be the right hand! I listened to some of my colleagues, friends and even family members who are so intimidated by taking on a new opportunity that they become frozen in time.

In developing a quality curriculum, keep in mind one simple word: Excellence. Ensuring that quality throughout the curriculum ensures that your students are learning the best possible content in the most efficient and effective manner. If quality and meeting outcome measures are vital for programmatic success, why aren’t more curricula developed with quality as a primary focus? Quality measures should never be afterthoughts, instead, as each course is built, there should a concerted effort to clearly identify the quality measures not only in the individual course, but how those measures of excellence build upon one another to optimize student learning. Providing a current and meaningful curriculum should be the primary goal of every educator, regardless of age or subject taught.

As we embark upon 2017, I wish you much success in all aspects of your life. I know many of you are seeking ways to improve financially so I would like to share some basic financial tidbits that I used to stabilize my finances and achieve some major goals. If you are already steering your course, great for you!

First, nothing works without commitment. With commitment comes the mindset that sets you up for success. Success then brings the peace of mind that you wanted to achieve. Commitment can sometimes be scary, but as the saying goes, to eat an elephant; you have to bite one piece at a time. So my first piece of advice is to start small and pace yourself. As you a hit a milestone, make the next milestone bigger. This applies to both saving and spending.

So where do you start? Let’s begin by establishing your goals, i.e, goal setting. The main teaching is that your plan of action  should be setting “SMART” goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

This is the second installment about faculty credentialing—a term striking fear into the hearts of faculty of Higher Learning Commission (HLC)-accredited schools across the nation.  Histrionics aside, this can be a very stressful process for faculty who do not understand the guidelines, the process your college or university will go through, and how it will affect their teaching assignments going forward.  I have had the opportunity to lead initiatives like this in the past and I am currently leading one at my institution--I offer this possible model to ease the transition.  In looking at management and change theory and for projects of this scope that have rather immovable goals (e.g., compliance by September 1, 2017), I suggest following the trusty Kurt Lewin model of change.  According to Lewin, there are three central phases to a change (Green, 2007):

To some it is becoming a cringe-worthy term, “credentialing”, to others it is a relatively standard practice that many institutions have been practicing since they opened their doors. Credentialing is simply the qualification process of faculty to teach certain courses. Institutions that are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) must be compliant to new guidelines by September 1, 2017; a race to the finish line has ensued. HLCs guidelines (the term HLC uses to describe the narratives associated with Core Components and Assumed Practices) are simply that, guidelines. They represent guidance that is given to each of its member institutions; guidance that is then subject to policy and procedures formulated by faculty governance. So, while the HLC guidelines might guide an institution into one way of credentialing faculty, the faculty body and/or the standards of a programmatic accreditor may decide on a stricter set of provisions.