Establish Leadership Team
Step 1

Identify members for the leadership team.

The leadership team should be assembled with the purpose of representing campus stakeholder groups and with consideration for the different tasks and the challenges that the team might face. Every institution needs to consider the right composition for the leadership team. The table below identifies recommended leadership team members and their key responsibilities.

Recommended leadership team members include:

  • Administrator(s) with authority to support the work across the institution

  • Mathematics faculty representing gateway courses and developmental programs

  • Directors of advising

  • Staff directly responsible for students’ first-year experience (e.g., tutoring center staff)

  • Lead the initiative at the institution level
  • Report to the president
  • Ensure that all stakeholders are identified and included
  • Identify obstacles and opportunities
  • Ensure that an institution-wide communication plan is implemented
  • Provide information about current programs
  • Review options for implementation
  • Establish and lead the instructional team for new courses
  • Ensure that courses are scheduled
  • Ensure that a mathematics department communication plan is implemented
  • Reach out to key partner disciplines
  • Plan for coordination with other mathematics reform initiatives
  • Provide information about current programs and services
  • Consult on options for implementation
  • Identify all staff and faculty who advise students
  • Ensure that a communication, training, and implementation plan on recruitment and advising is implemented.
  • Provide information about current programs and services
  • Consult on options for implementation
  • Identify opportunities to build on existing student support services to facilitate the implementation of mathematics pathways
  • Identify services that may need to be created or expanded, including advising and recruitment, academic support, success programs such as Early Alert, etc.

Additional team members to consider and their key responsibilities include:

  • Institutional researchers

  • Registrars

  • Faculty of partner disciplines

  • Collect data on current programs
  • Support the leadership team in using data
  • Collect data to be used in implementation and evaluation
  • Provide logistical support for registration
  • Collaborate with Information Technology department to program the registration system in support of mathematics pathways (e.g., default mathematics course for programs of study)
  • Provide information about current programs
  • Engage in multidisciplinary discussions with mathematics faculty
  • Work with mathematics faculty to align mathematics pathways to programs of study so that one clear and appropriate pathway is defined for each program.

The leadership team does not have to be newly created; an existing team overseeing college-wide initiatives, such as Achieving the Dream, could take responsibility for implementing mathematics pathways. Using an existing team builds on current structures, making it more likely that the work will be coordinated with other systemic improvement efforts. Care should be taken to ensure that mathematics pathways are not absorbed or diluted by other initiatives.

Over time, members of the leadership team may change. Good planning, documentation, and communication across the institution help ensure smooth transitions and bring new members up to speed quickly.

Step 2

Set a charge, and clarify roles and responsibilities for each member.

The leadership team is composed of representatives from different stakeholder groups, and individual members have specific roles and responsibilities. The team will be more efficient when all members are clear about their own responsibilities within the regular team meetings as well as what they will manage outside of meetings. Such efficiency requires that a charge must first be established, defining the purpose and authority of the team as a whole. Second, the roles and responsibilities of the team members need to be defined. Some roles are based on areas of expertise. For example, a faculty member may be asked to represent the interests and concerns of adjunct faculty. Other roles are based on the functions within the leadership team. Common roles include facilitators, managers of information, and communicators. 

  • Facilitators provide leadership to make steady progress. They monitor work plans and timelines, and keep the work moving forward between team meetings. Facilitators develop meeting agendas and ensure that the team focuses on agenda topics.
  • Managers of information keep a record of what occurs during meetings, including key ideas, decisions, and assignments.
  • Communicators ensure that team members are following the team’s communication and engagement plan. They also may manage logistics for meetings (e.g., invitations, meetings, meals).

Resources

helps the institutional leadership team to develop and establish an effective charge that communicates its goals and areas of work.

Step 3

Schedule regular meetings.

Depending on the size and reach of the institution, biweekly or monthly meetings are required. As the implementation begins and progresses through the stages, bimonthly or even quarterly meetings may suffice. Regardless of their regularity, leadership team meetings should be planned from the beginning to ensure that all members can attend all of the meetings.

Resources

lists key tasks and considerations when planning for effective meetings.

Step 4

Ensure that leadership team members understand mathematics pathways and how the pathways align to institutional mission, goals, and strategic plan.

Like key administrators, leadership team members must appreciate the rationale and institutional need for a transition to mathematics pathways. In communication with their different stakeholder groups, team members should convey clear connections between pathways and the institutional mission, goals, and strategic plan.

Resources

explores mathematics as a barrier to student success and degree completion for millions of higher education students and degree completion, and examines current multiple mathematics pathways initiatives that may help students complete their entry-level mathematics coursework in 1 year or less.

Step 5

Determine processes for making and documenting decisions.

A defined decision-making process reiterates the importance of having diverse stakeholders involved in mathematics pathways implementation.

Clear and unambiguous guidelines for making decisions will benefit the leadership team and the institution as both engage in transformative change. An institution may have advice to the leadership team about decision making. If not, the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (2012) may be helpful. Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler offer four methods of decision making:

  1. Command: Decisions are made by one person without discussion.
  2. Consult: Decisions are made after gaining information from others.
  3. Consensus: Decisions are made after extensive involvement from all and there is agreement.
  4. Vote: Every member has a vote and a predetermined threshold is reached.

Recall that the leadership team is responsible for managing information flow. Team decisions should be recorded and clearly communicated to the different stakeholder groups identified in the communication and engagement plan.