Cheyney University Blog

PRESIDENT'S BLOG - August 2013 The Importance of Senior Leadership Teams

August 20, 2013

As we begin the 2013-2014 academic year, with fewer staff and the continuing challenges of supporting deserving, but not financially-advantaged, first generation  families,  I am reminded of the 2008 work of Wageman, et al on the importance of the development of senior leadership teams.  In the text, Senior Leadership Teams: What it takes to make them great, published by Harvard Business School Press, the authors present research that distill the assumption and myth that successful organizations are related solely to the efforts of a heroic CEO.   Rather, the authors affirm that the demands on the top leaders of contemporary organizations outpace the talents of any one single leader—no matter how talented.   Organizational research, the authors affirm, instead illustrates that modern organizational success and flexibility depends on the talent and cohesiveness of senior leadership teams working to achieve team goals.

Thus, it is important for the CEO to put in place, and to nurture, the development of senior leadership teams who focus on specific goals and who work together across silos to support each other and to accomplish overarching goals.

Therefore, as we approach the upcoming new year and continue our preparation for the Middle States reaffirmation of accreditation self- study and site visit in April 2014,  we will focus on developing appropriate leadership teams who will work across divisional boundaries and other silos to follow the University's strategic plan and to identify evidence that the University is indeed in compliance with the 14 MSCHE standards noted in the document Characteristics of Excellence.

It is indeed absolutely essential that the leadership teams focus on supporting the teaching and learning environment for our students and faculty. 

As students move back on campus, it is easy to perceive that the Class of 2017 is anxious to start their new journey, and it is important that the senior leadership teams lead Team Cheyney,  so that as a University we present a welcoming and positive attitude to our incoming class and returning students.   The Cheyney University culture is created by each interaction with individual students—whether on the telephone, email, or other social media.  

This year, it is especially important for our enrollment team to help students and families navigate the registration and financial aid processes within the changed organizational structure in Student Affairs.   The offices of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid are now co-located in the Wade Wilson Administration Building, along with the Bursar and Registrar offices.  This structure supports the development of an enrollment management team who will move towards one-stop-shopping customer service for students and their families and enrollment specialists who will eventually take individual students through each step in the process.  The over-arching objective of these co-located offices is to assure that students can complete their registration and financial aid  processes quickly and efficiently with the help of knowledgeable and committed team members.

After several years of preservation work and remodeling,  the senior leadership team reports that Humphreys Hall will be occupied this fall with Humphreys Scholars and, from time-to-time, visiting scholars.   In order to help enrich the  students' academic experience, the student engagement leadership teams will offer a wealth of opportunities for student engagement, including the Arts and Lectures series, the Entrepreneurial Learning Center lecture series, dozens of student organizations, and 12 intercollegiate sports teams.

The Self-Study team reports that we are following the established timeline created by our Middle States Steering Committee, and they look forward to welcoming the Chair of our Evaluation team, Dr. Juliette Bell, this October for a preliminary campus visit.

The senior leadership team at Cheyney University understands that bringing in a balanced budget in FY 2013-2014 by cutting $5 million from the budget continues to put strain on the functioning of all of our teams this year.  However, these adjustments will put CU on the path of financial security for the future.  The new academic year is in our hands.  By the daily action of teams and individuals,  we will shape the future direction, future growth and viability of Cheyney University.  

Together, we can make this the best year ever at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania!


Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph. D.

Tags: blog , leadership , Michelle Howard-Vital , Middle States

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