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Clark Kerr, one-time president of the University of California system, once characterized the university as “a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.” It’s a lighthearted definition, but one rooted in truth.

Mention “teacher training” to the typical college professor and his eyebrow will raise like the wing of a raptor. Talons may follow.

College professors are experts in various disciplines—political science, mathematics, the biology of anthropology, the history of technology, and other disciplines from arcane to pedestrian. Teaching ability is universally presumed to accompany expertise in a discipline. Call it pedagogy by osmosis.

Part-time faculty play a vital role in university life. They teach large intro courses and classes; they are more likely to teach evening classes, which provides flexibility in course scheduling and attracts students who work during the day; and they accept last-minute teaching assignments when campuses add new class sections due to high student demand.

Perhaps nothing causes more administrative anxiety for deans at nursing schools than the nation’s nursing shortage. It not only poses a real threat to the country’s health care delivery system, but also to higher ed institutions that need nursing faculty.

Many are feeling the pinch. Positions remain unfilled, some for years. So nursing schools are rethinking and redesigning their traditional recruiting and retention strategies. Their solutions are quite varied, ranging from creating e-jobs and dual appointments to sharing existing faculty.

Bullies aren’t just on the playground. In fact, 62 percent of higher ed employees surveyed for a recent study reported witnessing or experiencing bullying in the past 18 months. That’s exactly one-quarter more than the 37 percent of the general workforce who report the same, according to Workplace Bullying Institute Data.

HR cross-training

With budgets still tight and a workforce still lean, some higher ed institutions are applying an old approach that allows them to do more with less.

Cross-training employees, or training them to perform key tasks of a coworker’s job, is nothing new. Perhaps it’s never more appreciated than when employees take vacations, become ill, work on special projects, or quit their job.

Nearly 50 percent of higher education administrators feel their time and attendance systems are out of date, and 53 percent of systems in use by colleges and universities are not automated.

With its four institutions—the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College, and Granite State College—the University System of New Hampshire is the largest provider of postsecondary education in the state, serving more than 35,000 students, and including more than 3,000 employees.

Technology has enabled higher education to extend instruction outside of the traditional classroom. New lecture capture technology such as the McGraw-Hill Tegrity Mobile App allows professors and students to record information on-the-go. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on October 18, 2012, instructors from Laramie County (Wyo.) Community College demonstrated how they use the app to enhance their lab, online, and hybrid classes in the Geosciences department.

Our institutions of higher learning are populated by experts in a wide range of fields—smart people with strong problem-solving abilities. This past year, as a first-time college president, it occurred to me that I should make a concerted effort to harness this brainpower for the good of my institution and its students. I envisioned a program that would motivate faculty and staff at Marymount University (Va.) to engage in creative, collaborative thinking to develop cost-saving, revenue-generating, and process-improving initiatives.