Sampling of Key Flagship Themes

The New Flagship University – Sampling of Key Themes

Copyright 2016 – John Aubrey Douglass

The Purpose and Objectives of Flagship Universities

The following captures the larger purpose and objectives of Flagship Universities, with only one that is valued and partially captured in the current crop of global and national rankings—the creation of new know- ledge. Different types of universities throughout the world share these objectives. Yet, they have a special meaning for the modern reincarnation of the Flagship University . . . Outlining the objectives of these institutions is simply a reference point to a larger, and more challenging, question: what is the path to becoming a New Flagship University or, for those campuses that already see themselves as having such a status, for expanding on the model. The logical sequential route is from regional/national engagement, then to global influence. There probably is no shortcut. Hence, one might postulate that a WCU, defined largely by data on research productivity, does not make a Flagship. At the same time, a Flagship is more likely to be a WCU, providing the necessary environment for high-quality research productivity, but not at the expense of the larger public purpose and the soul of the university enterprise.

 1. creation of new knowledge/preserving the past; 2. Evaluation of society; 3. Contributing to more equitable/prosperous society; 4 Advancement-human capabilities; 5. Productive learning/research environment

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Flagship University- Realms of Policies and Practices

What are the contemporary characteristics, values, and practices of a group of institutions we can identify as Flagship Universities? The New Flagship University profile is organized in four categories or realms of policies and practices, summarized in the following. Each relates to the institution’s external responsibilities and internal operations. Within the context of a larger national higher education system, the idea is that Flagship institutions have a set of goals, shared good practices, logics, and the resources to pursue them. Generally, the sequence is from the larger external context, to the mission of the institutions and goals, to the management structure to make it happen. Put another way, my effort here simply attempts to help create coherency, and to provide some guides and examples, for what many universities are already doing.

Image of university building and 4 policy/practice areas: 1.National Higher Ed system 2.Core Mission-Teaching/Learning/Research 3. Public Service 4. Management/Accountability

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Leading national universities are now more important for socioeconomic mobility, for producing economic and civic leaders, for knowledge production, and for pushing innovation and societal self-reflection than in any other time in their history. They are constantly expanding their activities in reaction to societal demands, generating new avenues of research and discovery, and expanding their reach into most aspects of modern life. The net result is that the Flagship Universities of today are significantly different from the leading national universities of an earlier era. The descriptive offered in the book offers a way to capture and comprehend the modern reincarnation of what is, in essence, an ancient institution transformed. Much of the profile will be familiar; but for some engaged in building anew or reforming their universities, the true breadth of the New Flagship University’s purpose and pursuits, and contemporary innovations, may come as a revelation. To state the obvious, different nations and their universities operate in different environments, reflecting their own national cultures, politics, expectations, and the realities of their socioeconomic world. The pur- pose here is not to create a single template or a checklist, but an expansive array of characteristics and practices that connects a selective group of universities—an aspirational model. However, many institutions and ministries may see only a subset as relevant, or only some aspirations as achievable in the near term. Universities that practice the general ideals of the New Flagship will also see that this brief chapter does not include all the activities and roles universities play in their distinct political and economic environment.

Five Spheres of The Undergraduate Experience

Research-intensive universities can conceptualize Five Spheres of the Undergraduate Student Experience: curricular engagement (including courses as well as interaction with faculty and graduate students, learning communities etc.), research engagement (faculty directed or mentored, paid and unpaid), public and community service (voluntary or integrated into requirements or credits toward a degree, often termed service learning), co-curricular activities, and their social life and conditions (comprising a wide array of factors, including their living arrangements, financial needs, working full-time or part-time, and sense of belonging). In the accompanying Figure 3.6, the size of each of these spheres of the student experience is representative, reflecting the relative importance for a generic student. Curricular engagement is at the core of the student experience. It is therefore shown as a larger sphere. However, the student experience is not a singular model, but nuanced and varied, within a university itself, within a disciplinary field of study. The socioeconomic background and interests of students are a variable. At the same time, there are academic cultures, and norms in different nations, that may value certain spheres over others.

 Curricular engaggement; Co-curricular activities; Research engagement; Public service; Social lief and conditions

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Six Spheres of the Graduate Student Experience

Similar to the graphic representation of the various activities shaping the student experience at the undergraduate level, Figure 3.6 depicts the graduate student experience. Here, six spheres reflect the complexity of graduate education and training: curricular engagement, co-curricular activities, research engagement, teaching experience, and professional development (including employment and internships in business and government), public and community service, and the social life and conditions in which students pursue their degrees—from master’s and professional programs, to the doctorate. In this portrayal of the graduate experience, the size of the sphere illustrates the world of a doctoral student that is not only dominated largely by developing research expertise and preparation for the job market, but is also heavily influence by their personal life. Again, universities, and their various disciplines and professional fields, will vary tremendously on what components influence the student experience. For example, co-curricular and public and community service are not always associated with graduate education; yet, degree programs in medicine, social welfare, and law often have significant components related to public service; and STEM fields also can have robust co-curricular activity and forms of social networking . . .  Historically, there has been a great diversity in the approaches to gradu- ate education, in terms of what type of students enter graduate programs (e.g., natives versus international students), how they are educated, what professions they are trained for, and how they find employment. But the elevated role of graduate education has brought an increased focus on the structure and quality of graduate education.

 1.Research Engagement 2.Teaching/Professional Development 3. Curricular Engagement 4. Social Life/Conditions 5. Public service 6. Co-curricular activities

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Five Spheres of Faculty Appointment and Promotion

 How to evaluate faculty performance and promise within a Flagship University? It is important to recognize considerable variation in the research interests of faculty. Harking back to the previous sections, some pursue traditional forms of research and other “engaged scholarship.” Further, faculty teaching, research, and public service interests evolve over time. Figure 3.15 provides a conceptualization of the primary areas of responsibility and activity for faculty: teaching and mentoring, research and creative work, professional competence and activity, university service (including activities related to academic management at the program, discipline, and campus-wide levels), and public/community service. Like the previous depiction of the experience of undergraduates and graduate students, the size of each sphere is only an example of a faculty member with significant research productivity. Theoretically, the weighting will vary depending on faculty members’ interests, abilities, and stage in their academic careers.

 1. Research andcreative work 2. Teaching/Mentoring 3. Professional Competence/activity 4. University service 5. Public service

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Mapping of University Internationalization by the Least to Most Amount of Institutional Effort

While Flagship universities should have a strong focus on regional and national needs, they must also leverage collaborations with faculty, pro- grams, and, more generally, with universities in other parts of the world. As noted previously, the crucial strategic approach for Flagship Universities is not to see international engagement as an end to itself (or, for that matter WCU rankings), but as a component of their larger missions and pursuits. At the same time, there is significant policy convergence in the activities, and social and economic demands, being made of universities. They can learn much from each other and benefit greatly by exposure to the activities and innovations of peer institutions. Indeed, international cooperation and joint activities can be transformative. There are institutions that have various international agreements and programs that are not well focused or carefully planned. The volume of engagements appears to take precedence over the value and costs to the institution—in money, but also in faculty time. High-visibility projects, like a branch campus, take shape without a substantial busi- ness plan and without strong faculty support. Sustainability in terms of funding and faculty interest and participation is often a challenge. Most international engagements cost institutions money, despite promises of income generation. This is not to discourage experimentation and risk taking, but to encourage greater introspection and analysis on initiatives. Figure 3.18 lists the ways Flagship University may pursue international engagement (Edelstein and Douglass, 2012). This includes individual faculty initiatives; the management of institutional demography; mobility initiatives; curricular and pedagogical change; transnational institutional engagements; network building; and campus culture, ethos, and leadership. The various strategies for internationalization take different levels of institutional effort and resources.

Figure 3.19 provides a general mapping of this range of institutional effort. Student and faculty exchanges are common at all leading national universities. A branch campus requires the greatest level of campus time and effort and is a growing phenomenon, although with a common pattern. Almost all are small-scale, boutique experiments in a limited set of disciplines with high student demand such as business, engineering, or information systems and computer science. They are more like outposts than genuine uni- versity campuses, although with a number of exceptions.

 Student/Faculty exchanges; English/foreign language courses; Joint courses; Joint research/pubs; International faculty/staff; Joint degrees; curricular reform; shared/strategic alliances; branch

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)

Organization of an Institutional Research Office by Functions

Institutional research (IR) is an essential activity for Flagship University. Most universities have had very limited formal policies and strategies for gathering institutional data, and for employing trained staff to generate the information and analysis required for competent and innovative management. One catalyst for increasing IR capacity is the growing demand of ministries for data to meet evolving accountability schemes; various inter- national and national ranking efforts are also leading to relatively new campus efforts to generate and maintain databases and formulate strategies for improving citation index scores and similar measures of output. In many research-intensive universities, however, there remains a significant lack of IR capacity and understanding, by academic leaders and by faculty, of the critical role of IR for institutional self-improvement and quality control. Flagship universities need to focus on their own data and analysis needs, including internal accountability efforts like Program Review, and not simply react to external demands. IR capability generally includes the following co-dependent functions: 

  • Data development and maintenance on core university activities
  • Enrollment, personnel, and financial management
  • Outcomes assessment, program review, accreditation
  • Institutional reporting and analysis
  • Strategic planning

These are interconnected purposes, of course, that link general data collection and management with efforts at strategic planning. But how to effectively pursue them? Figure 3.17 offers a model on how an Institutional Research office at a Flagship University might be organized. All major universities need a professional IR staff. They also need to seek collaborations with similar regional or national universities, and even international partners, to help build a comparative perspective, and to bolster institutional research as a profession with common standards of data collection, research, and analysis methods.

 Four areas feed into Director Institutional Research/Planning: 1.Data Development/Management 2. R&D 3. External/Internal reporting 4. Analysis/Planning

Source: John Aubrey Douglass- The New Flagship University (Palgrave Macmillan 2016)