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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ForbesWoman: Seven Ways To Be Indispensable At Work In 2013

From President Kimbrough...

 FYI- we discussed lots of personnel related issues/challenges today. Here is a quick staff development e-mail that might give you some ideas.

Meghan Casserly, Forbes Staff

Seven Ways To Be Indispensable At Work In 2013

The New Year is, for many, a time of change and resolutions. Be thinner! Be richer! Meet the love of your life!

For others, our hopes and dreams are more measurable. Whether it’s a 10% pay raise you’re after or moving one step closer to the corner office, forget job-hopping. In 2013, staying put and amping up your performance at work is the way to make it happen.

“The prevailing wisdom has been that to get ahead, you should learn something from one company and move on—and up—at the next,” says Brian Kropp, a managing director at CEB, an executive advisory firm which offers data analysis of more than 50,000 employee surveys from 10,000 organizations. “But that only produces short-term effects. In the new workplace we’re seeing greater emphasis on relationships,” he says, which means veteran employees are at a far greater advantage. According to CEB research, longer-tenured workers are beginning to rise to positions of success more quickly than those who move every few years.

So what does this mean for 2013 career resolutions? Ditch the job boards and set to work making yourself an indispensable employee.

“Being indispensable is about being the best,” says Lucy Leske, Vice President and Co-Director, Education Practice at the executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer. “If you’re always striving to be a better, more valuable contributor, people will inevitably take note and you will get ahead.”

Without further pontification, seven simple strategies to becoming indispensable in 2013.

Be Flexible

“The odds are that the way you’ll do work on January 1st won’t be the way you’ll be doing work on December 31st,” says Kropp. According to CEB research, more than 50% of employees say they have experiences “significant change” at work in the past 12 months, from reorganizations to new workflows to massive layoffs. “Make sure that your boss sees you are someone who can get the job done no matter what’s happening around you.”

Stay Current

“If you’re not regularly reading about industry trends in trade, business and general publications, checking out online sources and staying current on trends in your industry, you’re compromising your career growth,” says Leske. “Keeping up on trends, but more importantly, being able to apply those trends to your organization, demonstrates your understanding if its place within the industry.”

Don’t Be A Loner

In the new workplace, 40% of employees work with more than 20 people on a given day, and more than 80% work with 10 according to CEB research. “The idea that you can be an individual contributor and be successful is an idea of the past,” says Kropp. “Fitting within the network of the workplace is a part of the new definition of a great employee.”

Be A Thought Leader

All of that knowledge you’ve gained by reading up on the industry? Leske says to make a habit of sharing it. “Write articles, make presentations, serve on panels or blog,” she says. “People need to have confidence in you that you know what you’re doing and that you’re willing to use it to help other peoples’ problems.”


“It’s really easy to add more things to your to-do list but just as critical—if not more so—to know what to take off,” says Kropp. It’s no secret that work can be an overwhelming place, particularly in a post-recession environment where Kropp says the number of direct reports answering to any given manager has increased by an average of 50% in the past five years. Good decision making, delegating and prioritization are the signs of an effective leader, no matter your position within the organizational matrix.

Seek Opportunities For Management Experience

Speaking of managers, Leske advises that you actively pursue any opportunity for managing employees, no matter how small and trivial (or large and daunting) the task may seem. “There’s a difference between begging for these opportunities and raising your hand,” she warns, “but if someone says there’s a job to be done, raise your hand first and ask for help later. The biggest mistake is passing up the opportunity.”

Make Friends With The IT Guy

The average number of work-related emails we receive each day has increased fourfold since 2005, underscoring the explosive importance of technology in the office. This makes the IT department not just a vital team in the workforce, but an essential ally to any employee reaching for success as with their help you can avoid unnecessary downtime due to tech failures.

But Kropp adds that it isn’t just the IT team who have become increasingly important within the workplace. “Making friends with admins is an important move as well,” he says. As workflows have changed in the workplace of 2013 CEB reports that power, authority and decision making is cropping up in some unexpected places. “The administrative assistant of the CEO decides what’s on his or her schedule,” he points out. Underestimating their authority—or missing the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with that person is a judgment lapse no indispensable employee would miss.


This article is available online at:


Tomorrow's Professor: The Three Most Time-Efficient Teaching Practices

The Three Most Time-Efficient Teaching Practices

A recent study (Bentley & Kyvik, 2012) found that faculty in the United States spend on average over 50 hours per week on the job, and of those hours, over 20 are spent in teaching activities. These hours can be much higher for faculty at certain stages of their career or at certain kinds of institutions, but regardless, we spend a lot of time at our work. But more isn?t necessarily better?we don?t measure productivity in academia in terms of hours logged. What are we gaining by the time spent? And are we finding the time we spend meaningful and rewarding?


What constitutes productivity in teaching is a point of debate, of course, but many of us agree that we want to facilitate student learning. When faculty are challenged to change traditional teaching practices to promote better student success, all we may see looming before us is additional class preparation time. The best kept secret, however, is how much more time-efficient some of these touted teaching practices are. Below I discuss three of these best practices and the positive impact they can have on the way we spend our time teaching.


Begin with the end in mind.


The principle of backward course design (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998) echoes one of the late Stephen Covey?s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989). In this model, course design begins by determining what it is that we really want students to be able to do or feel or think long after the final exam is over. Then we make every other aspect of the course serve those goals. Once we have articulated our goals, whether lofty or pragmatic, our next step is to determine how students will demonstrate to us that they have indeed achieved the kind of learning we want of them (assessment). Lastly we turn our attention to the class format and activities that would facilitate that achievement. Aligning these three facets of course design (goals, assessments, and activities) builds in a coherence and synergy in the course that creates greater opportunities for students to learn what we want them to learn.


Clear course goals that communicate the nature of our disciplinary work to students tend to take the form of ?At the end of this course students will be able to: explain concepts such as?, develop a thesis (or hypothesis), analyze data (or texts or images), contrast points of view on issues, or write cogent arguments based on research (or analysis).? We may assess students? achievement of these goals through exam questions, papers, or projects, checking that the level of thought or skill that we want students to gain is represented in those assessments. Key to alignment, however, is making sure that we give students opportunities on lower stakes assignments or during class activities to practice the same skills we want them to ultimately demonstrate on our assessments.


The backward design approach helps focus our course efforts, not only generating better chances for students to learn what we want them to learn, but also saving class preparation time in at least three ways. First, we spend less time deciding what readings and assignments to include in our course because we now have targeted criteria to use to make that determination?our course goals. Second, we design our assignments around those course goals, so we spend less time grading or responding to assignments that don?t accomplish what we had hoped and are, in essence, busy work for our students and for us. And third, we are more apt to restrain ourselves from taking on too much in the course. Articulating our goals rather than masking them in a generalized descriptive statement (e.g., ?In this course we will discuss the effect of global economics on world trade?) helps us see more clearly the demands we are placing on the novice learners in our disciplines.


Generate criteria or rubrics to describe disciplinary work for students.


Once we have clear course goals we can use them to generate criteria or rubrics, a time-efficient approach to grading. We faculty know what quality student work is when we see it?but our students do not. Disciplinary work is a mystery for students. As faculty we may have forgotten what it was like to be a novice learner in our field (a phenomenon known as expert blind spot), or we may have been more intuitive about these processes even as students. In all likelihood, we faculty were not representative of the other students in classes with us at the time. We are a self-selected group that shares little in common with the vast and diverse array of contemporary students. Providing students with criteria or rubrics gives them a glimpse into the way that we think.


Sharing with students the criteria that we will use to evaluate their work both models disciplinary thinking for them and helps them develop the ability to evaluate their own work. Although we may think that these kinds of guides ?give it away? and make our assignments too easy for students, rarely is this the case. Instead these sets of criteria or rubrics can be a motivator for students. They make the assignment less of a mystery and make the students? own success seemingly more under their control. For examples of rubrics in many disciplines see Walvoord & Anderson, 2010 (pp. 195-232).


Using criteria or rubrics to grade student work saves time by: helping students produce better quality work (and better quality work is both faster and more pleasurable to grade); allowing us to assign points more quickly and consistently as we grade; and providing clear criteria for us to use in talking to students about their grades. When a student comes to appeal a grade, we can ask her to explain how the work meets the criteria. So the session becomes less about faculty defending their judgment, and more about helping the student learn to evaluate work from a disciplinary perspective. Although it does take time to generate really useful sets of criteria or rubrics, we can use them over and over and adapt them to multiple purposes.


Embed ?assessment? into assessments.


Generating criteria for student work also serves another purpose that is time-efficient?it helps us in our assessment of student learning outcomes for institutional purposes. Although assessment of student learning in terms of assignments, tests, and papers is second nature to faculty, ?assessment? in the sense of tracking student learning outcomes is often considered a four-letter word. In reality, determining precisely what students are learning in our classes focuses our scholarly minds on our teaching. Just as we look for evidence to make arguments for our theses or hypotheses in our discipline, when we assess student learning outcomes we determine if our courses are accomplishing what we planned in terms of student learning. Based on what we learn, we can change our courses to make them more efficient in producing the outcomes we want.


Assessment processes have been criticized for consuming time without producing results. Because data collection often occurred at levels at the institution beyond the course (or possibly even department) level, it seemed removed from day-to-day course activities and needs (Hutchings, 2010). Some of the most meaningful assessment, however, is data that we as faculty collect about what activities engage students most productively, what concepts and skills students find most challenging, and what interventions advance student progress. The key to making the assessment requirement work for us is to embed our assessment of student learning outcomes into regular class assignments, exams, papers, and activities.


Faculty are accustomed to assessing student work with a grade. When we think about student learning, however, a grade represents a composite accounting of all the knowledge and skills we ask students to demonstrate on a piece of work. Assessing student learning outcomes requires us to deconstruct or unpack what that grade represents. What specific kinds of knowledge and skills did students demonstrate on a graded piece of work? For example, if our goal is to develop students? critical reasoning abilities in our discipline, we may record the level of students? performance on certain test questions that are specifically directed at that goal. These questions may be multiple choice or short answer, in which case we keep track of correct student responses. Or we can examine students? performance on an essay using criteria (or a rubric) that capture the elements of critical analysis that we want students to demonstrate (see above). We then keep track of students? rubric scores to

 determine what aspects of analysis they have mastered and what aspects they need to improve.


The information gained from monitoring students? performance makes our teaching more time-efficient by directing our choices on class activities and assignments. For example, rather than lecturing on all aspects of course material, we focus class activities on those areas that students find most challenging. Likewise, we spend our preparation time designing and responding to assignments that are targeted more directly at developing key skills in students. The time we spend is more likely to produce the kind of learning we want in students.




Redesigning our teaching based on recognized effective teaching approaches does require an investment of time upfront. But that investment pays off every day, all year long. And our time is often spent in more intellectually satisfying interactions with students, increasing our sense of productivity, and making the time more meaningful and rewarding.




Bentley, P.J., and S. Kyvik, S. 2012. ?Academic Work from a Comparative Perspective: A Survey of Faculty Working Time across 13 Countries.? Higher Education, 63: 529-547.


Covey, S. 1989. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.


Hutchings, P. April, 2010. Opening Doors to Faculty Involvement in Assessment. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment Occasional Paper #4. Retrieved from


Walvoord, B., and V. J. Anderson. 2010. Effective Grading (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Wiggins, G., and J. McTighe. 1998. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.




Linda C. Hodges


Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Director, Faculty Development Center

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250


Diverse Issues in Higher Education: Members of Presidents’ Round Table Confront Challenges on Diverse Campuses


December 28, 2012

Members of Presidents’ Round Table Confront Challenges on Diverse Campuses

by Sam Fullwood III

In an age of increasing pressures on the future workforce, the Presidents’ Round Table, a network of African-American community college presidents and chief executives, seeks to meet the demand for supplying and training the next generation of educated employees for the evolving job picture.

Among its varied goals, the Round Table works to empower and provide community college leaders with the skills to keep the nation’s community colleges viable.

To get a glimpse into the of the needs and stresses facing community college leaders, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education spoke with two of the Round Table’s leaders: Dr. Andrew C. Jones, chancellor of Coast Community College District in Southern California and convener of the Round Table, and Dr. Charlene M. Dukes, president of the Prince Georges Community College in suburban Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., who is secretary of the Round Table.

Following are excerpts of the dialogue with them:

DIVERSE: Let’s start off by having you tell me a little about the Presidents’ Round Table. How did it come to be? And how useful is it?

Jones: The Round Table is 29 years old . . . and was founded in 1983 by a group of about eight African-American [community college] presidents, who at that time found themselves in a fairly isolated situation. They were all over the country. They didn’t have a way of really connecting with one another, except through some of the general professional meetings. Some of them knew each other from previous experiences, but they decided to form an organization that would be in [the interest] of promoting the development of more African-American leaders at that time, and that’s how the Round Table was actually “born,” if you will. Over the last 30 years, it has been the most prolific executive leadership organization in terms of promoting the ascension to the presidency of any leadership organization in the county. We think it’s very successful.

DIVERSE: In an effort to get more people to do it, you have the Thomas Lakin Institute, where you bring people who are not already presidents “into the loop,” so to speak.

Jones: That’s basically true, but we have had, on several occasions, sitting presidents during their first year, in some cases, also attend. I think Dr. Dukes was one of them.

Dukes: Right. I was appointed to the presidency [at Prince Georges Community College] in July of 2007, and in October of 2007, I actually attended the Lakin Institute because, as a new president, I certainly wanted to be there and glean some knowledge and just some common sense ideas from those people who had been presidents for some time. And then I also wanted to understand what are those kinds of things that I certainly need to be both aware of and on the lookout for as a president of color. All of those things were certainly running through my head as they ran through the heads of my peers who were at the Lakin Institute that year.

Well, I think it [the training from the institute] does a couple of things. One is that it certainly provided the opportunity for those who are in senior administrative positions in their institutions, but they are not at the presidency level. They interact with college presidents, who are coming from across the county. It is living the life of a president during that week.

We have things for them to do, so that they understand that you may be up and out at 6 or 7 in the morning, and you are still going at 7, 8, 9, 10 o’clock at night. So, you have to understand that it’s not just about sitting on your campus, or at your institution, behind your desk. It is also about community engagement. It’s about student engagement. It’s about political engagement. So, it really gives them an opportunity to assess, “Is this what I want to do?” “Do I really aspire to the presidency?” “Do I aspire to a more senior-level position within the organization I’m in or another organization?”

DIVERSE: What do Round Table members see as the diversity challenges and successes for community colleges?

Jones: I think one is, as the population demographically shifts to what everybody is projecting to be the majority-minority population, we’re seeing a lot of those shifts also in our college-age populations. We are challenged to find commensurate numbers of faculty and staff who are representative of those population shifts. So, in my district, for example, as I said, we are predominately Caucasian, but we’re seeing a very significant growth in both Hispanic and Asian populations here in this part of Southern California. But we have very few Hispanic, Asian or African-American faculty members. And so, if you buy into the notion that role models are important, we have very few role models for our students to emulate. That’s one challenge.

Dukes: Funding certainly continues to be a major challenge to ensure that we are funded appropriately by whatever model exists in the states in which we reside. And another major challenge, of course, is the focus on graduation. Are students leaving us with the appropriate certificates, associate degrees, workforce development, licensures or certification? Are they coming in, and are they being focused and motivated and then being successful by leaving us with that piece of paper that indicates their credential that they have indeed earned at the community college? Are they then moving on, whether it is to transfer to a four-year college or university to finish their last two years, or is it to move out into the world of work?

DIVERSE: Are you finding that success occurring?

Dukes: I think that it occurs in pockets of students, if I can speak [only] for Prince George’s Community College. You will find that we — there are some community colleges whose graduation rates are in the 60 to 70 percent range, and there are others who have lower graduation rates — when you combine them with transfer rates, because our students do transfer before they actually graduate. Then you’ll find that we are probably somewhere in the 40 to 45 percent range of students either getting a degree or moving on to transfer prior to the degree.

DIVERSE: The economy has been bad over the last several years, but we’ve seen a little uptick in economic recovery. However, state appropriations to higher education institutions seem to have dwindled. I’m curious to know if state appropriation cuts come at a time when the community colleges’ enrollments are spiking upward, as more students are looking on the community college system as a value proposition.

Jones: Yes, in California. In fact, we have 400,000 students who have been denied access to community colleges because of funding. We have the largest community college system in the country. We were at 2.9 million in 2009; we’re now at 2.5 million. So, we’ve had a systemic decrease in what we can do, what they call a “workload reduction,” where not only was our funding decreased, but we were actually ordered to take down the number of classes that we provided. So, in years past, even if there was a reduction in funding, colleges could, if they chose to, serve students that they weren’t being paid for, essentially. The last couple of years, we’ve not been able to do that; we’ve actually had to reduce the number of classes that we offer. So, at my institutions, we reduced our number of classes by 2,000. We had about 10,000 students over a year and a half that weren’t able to get the classes that they needed because of funding.

It seems to me that the shift has gone from “education is a public good” to “education is an individual benefit,” and that’s allowed policymakers and lawmakers to be able to cut higher education in a way that’s been unprecedented. There has to be a fundamental belief that education is no longer a public good; there’s no other way to explain what’s happened.

Dukes: Have our budgets gone down in Maryland? The answer is “yes.” We have more students and probably less state aid per student, but we also have a governor who has tried to hold tuition low. As a matter of fact, tuition was frozen at the university systems for about four years. At the community college systems, we were asked to raise our tuitions no more than 3 percent per year. If we did that, we were able to access a special tuition-incentive fund, so that there have been, I would say, some creative ways to ensure that we are able to keep tuitions low and still keep our doors open to students.

DIVERSE: Does this mean, then, that you are required to do more for an increasingly needy population with fewer resources?

Dukes: I think that the obvious answer to that is “yes,” but there also is that commitment to staying true to our mission, and in some cases, we do that in a variety of ways. We don’t necessarily have a specific number that we target for freshman enrollment, and as enrollments increased over the last three or four years, we were able to: one, start classes earlier or hold classes later on Monday through Friday. We were able to increase the number of classes that we offered on Saturdays and Sundays. A large number of our students are taking advantage of online courses, so you don’t have the same kind of overhead that you might have for students who are actually coming to the college, physically. There are ways that we’ve been able to make it work. I would also say to you that this semester, for the first time probably in about the last four years or so, across the country, community colleges’ enrollments are flat, if they’ve increased slightly at all.

Jones: It’s just the opposite in California, where we’ve had what we call the “perfect storm” in unprecedented demand and very limited capacity. So, in California, the projection is that enrollments will continue to increase, at least for the next few years, and largely depending on what happens with the economy. It’s typically a cycle, when the economy is robust, that enrollments go down.

DIVERSE: When I think of community colleges, I envision occupational changes that are going on in the society, and community college is a place where you go for “retraining,” particularly for older workers who want to learn new skills. Computers immediately came to mind from a previous generation. Is that the current community college model?

Jones: It’s never been the community college model. It’s been a misnomer. I think you must look at most community colleges, and there are certainly some exceptions, but on the whole, of 1,188 community colleges nationwide, I’d say probably less than 10 percent of them would fit that bill. Most of us have been primarily transfer institutions, or at the very least we’re 50/50, where a lot of our focus and emphasis has been on workforce development. But what you really just described is kind of the continuing education or the community education component of what we do; it’s not part and parcel of our main mission or our main percentage of our work. Many of our students come for retraining, retooling. … Certainly when there have been economic downturns, we’ve seen a lot of people coming back looking to recertify or to change careers.

But here’s something interesting: As we continue to listen to the public policymakers and the “workforce experts,” we hear this resounding theme that the work of the future is going to be somebody who works 10, 12, 15 jobs over their lifetime and that will probably work in four or five different professions. And they will have great opportunity to work outside of the country just because of how the global economy is developing. That really signals to me perhaps a different role for community colleges, in particular, in the short-term, but more in the long-term future. I’m not so sure that, as we look at our mission, that we’ve incorporated that new role in our mission. This is certainly an evolving kind of thing, but I think we could look up in a few years — five, six years out — and we could see a very different mission emerging for community colleges.

DIVERSE: Are your students today ready for college?

Jones: Let me just say this: Consider the freshman class at Harvard. Over 25 percent of the freshmen at Harvard had to take remedial classes. OK? So, these are supposed to be the best and the brightest anywhere in the world. I think that gives you some sense of what we’re dealing with. Well, this is not unique to community colleges. It’s probably much more profound with us because we’re not getting that, you know, talented 10th, or whatever it is. For the most part, we do have some very talented students, but on average, our students are probably not the students that are going to Stanford and Harvard and U.C. Irvine and all those places. But there is a huge gap, every place I’ve been in Maryland and Texas and California, in Michigan and Alabama, there’s been a pretty significant gap between what students know when they leave high school and what they need to know when they go to college. And I’ll just leave it like that.

Dukes: I think the other thing that we have to think about is that our average age at community colleges is somewhere between 27 and 29. I find that older students are much more disciplined in that process because they have been very focused on the decisions they have made to re-engage with the world of education and higher education. They bring a whole different energy to the classroom.

DIVERSE: Out in California, Brice Harris is the new chancellor of the largest community college system. What does that mean for the future of the system in that state?

Jones: I think that Brice Harris’ ascension to the state chancellorship is a very positive direction for the state. He’s been known as a very forward-thinking chancellor. I think that he has a good relationship with the state legislature, with the governor, so we’re hopeful that that is going to signal for us a return to some of the the better days in California higher education, particularly in community college education. And we think that there’s a lot of support for him from the community college sector.

– Sam Fulwood III is a Senior Fellow at American Progress, where he analyzes the influence of national politics and domestic policies on communities of color.