NEWS UPDATE - A 3-DAY TRAINING FOR SENATE MEMBERS: THE BEAUTY BEHIND A SCHOLARLY WORLD

It was an academic voyage when the Management of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State engaged members of the University Senate on intellectual expedition recently with a 3-Day Academic Leadership Training organised for them, where pertinent issues ad-rem to academia were brought to the front burner of discussions.

The training which had as its theme:

"ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP IN UNIVERSITIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY: BEST PRACTICES"

focused on salient issues which include Technology Integration in Teaching; Teaching Practice/SIWES; Sundry Lectures (Inaugural Lectures, Annual Lecture, College/Departmental Lecture etc); Research Seminars; Group Project Writing; Continuous Assessment; Quality Assurance and Administrative Competence of an Academic Leader among others.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu presenting a paper on "Student-University Curricular and Co-Curricular Experiences: Creating a Lasting Relationship " posited that co-curricular refers to activities, programmes and learning experiences that complement in some ways what students are learning in school - i.e experiences that connect to or mirror the academic curriculum.

He added that co-curricular activities are typically, but not always, defined by their separation from academic courses.

The Vice Chancellor further noted that in carrying out both academic and administrative duties, he said participants had enormous responsibilities ahead of them by assisting students to understand and maximise their potentials; provide guidance from matriculation to graduation; provide confidence and trust; engender patriotic zeal and sense of belonging; build lasting relationship with students and leveraging on the combination of curricular and co-curricular activities among others.

He, however, added that student-lecturer relationship is sine qua non to building and promoting healthy intra and inter sub-system relationships.

In his presentation, the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Olukayode Oyesiku who spoke on "Intellectual functions of Academic Leaders at College and Departmental Levels: Performance Expectations and Changing Roles" described a 21st century University as the one with values-based institution which is the yardstick for respect and status among members of staff.

He posited that core values go in consonance with contextual understanding of free society where a University exists.

He, however, expressed that some other core values which include general tendency towards a moral society; hightened sensitivity to individual rights; necessity for the autonomy of the individual to pursue and transmit knowledge; belief in the University as an idea and self discipline and reflective solitude among other factors will further drive the University.

Prof. Oyesiku, therefore, noted that leadership is the bedrock of a viable University where he said that administrative leadership is the major force that guides the University as a whole.

Other yardsticks recommended by Prof. Oyesiku include the fact that lecturers must determine what to be taught, how it will be taught and standard of evaluation of what has been learned, with a position that academic leaders may not necessarily be leaders before appointment but are respected for their judgement, institutional knowledge as well as predictive power to drive the vision and mission of the institution.

On the role mentoring plays in University Administration, he said to achieve this feat, there should be proper understanding of outstanding teaching and research; understanding tenure and evaluation; creating work-life balance as well as enlarging professional networks.

Prof. Oyesiku, however, submitted that to achieve strategies for good practice in a University setting, there should be prompt assessment of staff and student outcome; communicate institutional values and expectations through policies, decisions, processes and interactions, linking the classroom with out-of-classroom activities and providing high quality services and programmes that support learning.

The erstwhile Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade in her lecture which centred on "Mentoring Future Academic Leaders and Creating a Culture of Effective Leadership" called on academics to create platform to help each other to attain goals of leadership and power within the nation's ivory towers.

She listed reliability, truthfulness, consistency, walking the talk, confidence, collaboration, cooperation and communication as parts of the attitudes of a trustworthy leader.

Prof. Obilade further noted that mentors do not exist in a vacuum but with high level responsibility which among other basic functions include serving as guides, counsellors and teachers for another person; providing guidance and support within a personal relationship that extends over a period of time; conscious decision by a mentor to commit his mentee's development by enhancing the professional growth of the mentee through directing and supporting and high level of rapport between them.

She also opined that to make academic mentoring effective in higher institutions of learning, it could be effected through loyalty to the institution; integrity, honesty and accountability; accomodativeness and inclusiveness; effectiveness and efficiency, result-oriented and effective time management among other qualities.

"Academic mentoring helps to ensure more productive research careers, greater career satisfaction, better preparation in making career decision, networking within the profession and aiding in stress management. It also assists in providing upward mobility and support in the mentee's career", she added.

The former Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Joseph Olusanya submitted that change advocates should demonstrate as true change agents by serving as planners, implementers, translators and diagosticians.

Prof. Olusanya, who spoke on "The University System: Managing Change, Prompting Healthy Intra and Inter Sub-system Relationships" suggested that change agents should help sponsors to understand the importance of change in their immediate environment. "Change participants determine whether or not the intended modification of skills, attitudes or behaviour actually occurs during the freezing phase", he added.

While analysing the way and manner both staff and students react to change, Prof. Olusanya noted that what is good cannot be effected easily by emphasising that staff and students react to change differently. "They can accept the change or meet it with confrontation and hence, reject it. However, the acceptance or rejection of change by staff and students are influenced and determined by many factors and circumstances", he reiterated.

He, however, enumerated some of the personnel involved in organisational change process which include change sponsors, change agents, change advocates and change participants among others.

Prof. Olusanya, therefore, advised participants to establish and maintain mutual relationship between them and their students in order to make the desired change realistic.

The Director, Directorate of Academic Planning, Quality Assurance and Research (DAPQAR) of the University, Prof. Niran Adetoro in his thought-provoking lecture titled "Effective Leadership, Recipe for Quality Higher Education" noted that effective leaders at all levels, reputable faculty with research credentials and effective faculty with institutional reputation for quality teaching scholarship have been described as criteria for quality higher education.

He maintained that rigorous curriculum with critical thinking, inter-disciplinary curriculum as well as curriculum laced with entrepreneurial contents are some of the instruments for achieving quality education.

Prof. Adetoro enumerated some of the traits of successful leaders which include excellent persuasion abilities, honesty, passion, flexibility, confidence and ability to leverage team strength among others.

DAPQAR Director further noted that personnel, curriculum, resources and institutional mission/expectations are major recipes for high quality education.