Originally published: Entangled Solutions | By Jeffrey J. Selingo | January 2018

The Importance of Managing Change on Campuses

Look at the titles of any of the annual association meetings or their individual sessions these days and it’s likely you’ll see the world “innovation” featured prominently. That’s because innovation is everywhere across higher education.

Colleges and universities are increasingly reflecting the trend by creating formal innovation roles—under the provost’s office, within information technology departments, or as free-standing C-suite positions. More than 200 institutions now have senior roles with words such as “innovation” or “digital” in their title, and another 200 schools have online learning roles that are often connected to broader academic innovation efforts, according to our research. At one point in the fall of 2017, a search of online job advertisements showed that more than two dozen institutions were looking to fill top innovation roles.   

Innovation jobs on campuses have their roots in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when colleges were looking to leverage technology to cut costs. The number and scope of the roles increased substantially after 2011, when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were heralded as the invention that would disrupt higher education’s expensive business model, increase access to college, and improve teaching. College and university leaders scrambled to get their courses online and rethink pedagogical methods on their campuses. Teaching and learning centers became popular outlets to test technology and alternative classroom approaches, and new positions were created to oversee academic innovation.

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