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A bootcamp for postsecondary administrators

A new certificate program at Dalhousie University tackles the changing landscape of postsecondary leadership.


Making the jump into college and university administration comes with a steep learning curve. Whatever their prior experience, administrators eventually find themselves managing unexpected professional challenges while handling responsibilities like strategic planning or human-resource management on a much bigger scale than they may have previously faced. A new program at Dalhousie University aims to help.

The academic leadership certificate is a 20-week online program developed by the executive education department in Dalhousie’s faculty of management. It includes courses on strategic thinking, self-management, team leadership, data-informed decision-making, financial management, stakeholder engagement and change management. The $4,250 program fee also includes a personalized assessment and session with an executive coach. Scott Comber, an instructor in the program and a researcher specializing in academic leadership, says that for many participants, these courses and coaching will be the first chance they’ve had to develop a “personal leadership practice” as administrators.

Vivian Howard, Dalhousie’s associate vice-president, academic, notes that the program “can help prepare participants to be effective academic leaders” by teaching them “the skills to work collaboratively to address complex real-world issues and devise innovative and effective solutions.”

The certificate was developed from in-house training for administrators that Dalhousie has offered since 2019. The expanded program is open to current and aspiring administrators from any postsecondary institution. It launched in January with a cohort of 20 students based in seven provinces and one territory.

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