My reading list for 2017

Happy New Year! I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions but I do enjoy picking out books that I’m going to read for the year. Some years I focus on popular books that I’ve never read or on non-higher education books. For this year, I have identified 10 books that are mostly focused on faculty and academic governance. This is an area I ended 2016 thinking about and want to continue into 2017. Below are my books for the year along with blurbs from Amazon. What are you reading this year?

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education

by Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier

Public higher education in the postwar era was a key economic and social driver in American life, making college available to millions of working men and women. Since the 1980s, however, government austerity policies and politics have severely reduced public investment in higher education, exacerbating inequality among poor and working-class students of color, as well as part-time faculty. In Austerity Blues, Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier examine these devastating fiscal retrenchments nationally, focusing closely on New York and California, both of which were leaders in the historic expansion of public higher education in the postwar years and now are at the forefront of austerity measures.

Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century: Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learning-Centered Model

Edited by Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey

The institution of tenure—once a cornerstone of American colleges and universities—is rapidly eroding. Today, the majority of faculty positions are part-time or limited-term appointments, a radical change that has resulted more from circumstance than from thoughtful planning. As colleges and universities evolve to meet the changing demands of society, how might their leaders design viable alternative faculty models for the future?

The Essential Academic Dean or Provost: A Comprehensive Desk Reference

by Jeffrey L. Buller

The Essential Academic Dean or Provost explains the “how” of academic leadership, providing a practical, comprehensive, reality-based reference for almost any problem, challenge, or opportunity. This updated second edition includes new chapters on the difference between leadership and management in higher education, leadership in politically charged environments, effective strategies for making decisions, and working with associate deans or provosts, plus new case studies, new research, and ten additional chapters available on the companion website. Each topic deals concisely with the most important information deans and provosts need when faced with a particular situation, providing both a comprehensive guide to academic leadership as well as a ready reference to be consulted as needed.

The Faculty Factor: Reassessing the American Academy in a Turbulent Era

by Martin J. Finkelstein, Valerie Martin Conley, and Jack H. Schuster

Over the past 70 years, the American university has become the global gold standard of excellence in research and graduate education. The unprecedented surge of federal research support of the post-World War II American university paralleled the steady strengthening of the American academic profession itself, which managed to attract the best and brightest educators from around the world while expanding the influence of the “faculty factor” throughout the academic realm. But in the past two decades, escalating costs and intensifying demands for efficiency have resulted in a wholesale reshaping of the academic workforce, one marked by skyrocketing numbers of contingent faculty members.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education

by William G. Bowen and Eugene M. Tobin

Do higher education institutions have what it takes to reform effectively from within? Locus of Authority argues that every issue facing today’s colleges and universities, from stagnant degree completion rates to worrisome cost increases, is exacerbated by a century-old system of governance that desperately requires change. While prior studies have focused on boards of trustees and presidents, few have looked at the place of faculty within the governance system. Bowen and Tobin explore whether departments remain the best ways through which to organize decision making and if the concepts of academic freedom and shared governance need to be sharpened and redefined. Using case studies of four very different institutions, the authors demonstrate that college and university governance has capably adjusted to the necessities of the moment and governance norms and policies should be assessed in the context of historical events. They also demonstrate that successful reform depends on the artful consideration of technological, financial, and cultural developments. Locus of Authority shows that the consequences of not addressing college and university governance are more than the nation can afford.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Have you ever wanted to learn a language or pick up an instrument, only to become too daunted by the task at hand? Expert performance guru Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak condenses three decades of original research to introduce an incredibly powerful approach to learning that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring a skill.

Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning

by James M. Lang

Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that’s easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and the classroom environment in a way that can be implemented by any faculty in any discipline, and even integrated into pre-existing teaching techniques.

Strategic Leadership: Integrating Strategy and Leadership in Colleges and Universities

by Richard L. Morrill

Richard Morrill’s new work takes the national dialogue on higher education strategy and leadership and puts some meat on the bones. This is a unique time in our country’s fundamental relationship with and expectations for higher education. Myriad studies and data clearly demonstrate that the time is now for new strategies and responses. This volume provides a detailed roadmap to achieve success through engaged and effective leadership. It is a necessary volume for all who recognize the challenges we face.

Toward a More Perfect University

by Jonathan R. Cole

A renowned academic leader identifies the ways America’s great universities should evolve in the decades ahead to maintain their global preeminence and enhance their intellectual stature and social mission as higher education confronts the twenty-first-century developments in technology, humanities, culture, and economics.

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