Transforming The Ivory Tower: How Scenarios of Possible Futures Provide Real Growth for Academic Organizations

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9781470146108: Transforming The Ivory Tower: How Scenarios of Possible Futures Provide Real Growth for Academic Organizations
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One plan can’t negotiate the uncertainties of today’s world. Successful academic organizations need a way to cope with multiple possibilities. A single-point perspective yields a single-minded line of attack. When academic organization set out to create a strategic blueprint, they face more than one possible future, more than one possible marketplace for its graduates, more than one possible operating environment for its academic units. The Ivory Tower needs to be ready for any number of possible futures. In using scenario planning as a dynamic tool to guide strategic thinking, academic organizations aren’t trying to predict the future. They are working together to imagine a number of possible alternatives that scholars, staff and students might face in the years ahead. This means questioning what we know to be the truth today. Moving beyond the trends we see right now, academic organizations must ask how those trends and other uncertainties might come together in different ways tomorrow. Through scenarios, academic organizations create a more dynamic way to understand strategic challenges faced by academic units and talk about them, reflecting multiple ideas and points of view. Transforming the Ivory Tower offers a process for academic organizations to create a more flexible outlook that allows academic units to anticipate and adjust core strategies as society’s actual future unfolds. No college, university or academic unit can operate secluded in an Ivory Tower. Nor can any academic program succeed without an awareness of the people it serves – showing a respect that comes from knowing what people need, what we can deliver, and what we can’t. In shaping our scenarios, we examine the potential consequences for each of our constituencies and stakeholders. The students we teach. The government we belong to. The businesses and industries we help support. The foundations and other organizations we rely on. We’re all partners in our mission today. More important to possible futures of academic organizations, we’re all inextricably linked in whatever develops tomorrow. Transforming the Ivory Tower prepares academic decision-making for such possible futures providing real growth for academic organizations.

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About the Author:

Oliver G. McGee III is a teacher, a researcher, an administrator, and an advisor to government, corporations and philanthropy. He is professor of mechanical engineering and former Vice President for Research and Compliance at Howard University, serving as the chief research officer of the 140-year institution, and as a Cabinet-level executive reporting to the Howard University President. Dr. McGee is former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Inc. The UNCF is the nation’s largest, oldest, most successful and comprehensive minority higher education cooperative financial security and assistance philanthropic organization. Dr. McGee was Professor and former Chair (2001-2005) of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Geodetic Science at Ohio State University. He is the first African-American to hold a professorship and a departmental chair leadership in the century-and-a-quarter history of Ohio State University’s engineering college. Dr. McGee has also held several professorships and research positions at Georgia Tech and MIT. McGee is the former United States (U.S.) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Technology Policy (1999-2001) at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and former Senior Policy Advisor (1997-1999) in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. McGee is a 2012-2013 American Council on Education Fellow, and an American Association of State Colleges & Universities’ (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI) Fellow – educational leadership and management development programs for prospective university chancellors and presidents.

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