The President’s Role

Professional Development Matters: The President’s Role in Professional Development

By: Christine Johnson McPhail

Developing and training your team is one of the most important activities that a president can perform. Learning and growing your talent development skills to improve the performance of your employees is essential to both your success and the future success of your organization. Your team must be developed and prepared for both today’s challenges and opportunities that the institution will face in the future. Among educational policymakers, researchers and practitioners, there is an emerging consensus that professional development is important to educational reform in higher education. And, with the changing student demographics and demands for accountability, it seems an understatement to suggest that professional development for faculty, staff, and administrators is critically vital to institutional reform focused on enhanced student success and completion. Nevertheless, there continues to be a need to elevate the importance of continuous learning and development for educators, individually and collectively to ensure institutional effectiveness and accountability.

Presidents can exercise significant influence on professional development programs at their institutions. But do they execute that authority? My observations have led me to believe that many presidents do not. And, I am increasingly concerned about the situation. I have identified four key areas where presidents have the opportunity to make a substantial impact on talent development in their organizations. 1) t creating an empowerment environment; 2) linking professional development to institutional goals (design, delivery, and content of professional development; 3) evaluating professional development outcomes; and 4) making a commitment to the importance of professional development for all stakeholders.

Within the institution, the president is in a unique position to influence the implementation of these four areas and to affect the overall quality of professional development. One of the principal duties of the president is to create and maintain positive teaching and learning environments for all stakeholders. Without an articulated commitment from the president, professional development can quickly become something people get around to doing when they have time to get around to doing it. Professional development must be embodied in the goals of the institution. The president must examine and evaluate how professional development is provided for all employees at the institution. The president must commit to developing guidelines for the design and delivery of professional development for all employees at the institution. Professional development is a strategy that presidents can use to ensure that all employees understand the importance of professional development and continue to strengthen their practice throughout their career. Presidents have the responsibility to ensure that practitioners within their institutions engage in continuous professional development and apply that learning to increase student outcomes. By advocating for and supporting professional development {that meets the needs of students and improves competencies of employees}, presidents can do their part to ensure a successful educational experience for students.

How are your professional development programs working at your institution? I would love to hear about your outcomes. How are you engaged in the professional development activities at your institution? How do you evaluate the impact of the professional development programs at your institution? How do you assess the impact of professional development on goal attainment at the institution?. And, if you have not been engaged in professional development, tell me about how you would like to change professional development at your institution.

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