Institutional Leadership

Information for: Presidents, administrators, and faculty leaders who are leading or supporting an institution-wide effort to implement mathematics pathways.

Role in Mathematics Pathways

Generally, institutional leadership is responsible for:

  • Establishing and maintaining institutional commitment including keeping the work visible and well resourced.
  • Engaging with faculty and staff to build ownership of the local implementation.
  • Supporting cross-institutional work.

How the specific responsibilities are distributed across different leadership positions will vary depending on institutional size and organization. General suggestions are given below. (See Take Action for more information about process and actions.)

In addition to the internal responsibilities described below, institutional leaders play an external role to collaborate with counterparts at other institutions, the state agency and other partners to mobilize and coordinate state and regional efforts.

Relevant Resources

  • Read about the strategic approach Metropolitan Community College–Kansas City used to support and engage faculty in mathematics pathways in this new Dana Center series. ( PDFview full resourceDownloadFile)
  • See this sample Dana Center communication -or Playbookview full resourceDownloadFile- including tips from research and the field for the president and senior leadership team to support mathematics pathways implementation at scale.
Role Responsibilities

Presidents and Chancellors

Make and communicate a long-term institutional commitment to mathematics pathways.

Ensure mathematics pathways is integrated into the institutional strategic plan.

Establish and set the charge for a leadership team.

Vice Presidents of academic affairs or undergraduate studies, and Provosts

Ensure follow-through on the commitment made by the president.

Engage with deans and mathematics faculty to build local ownership in the process.

Set expectations for data-driven goals and decision making.

Identify resources to support implementation.

Maintain communications and oversight until math pathways are fully implemented.


Serve as the administrative lead on the leadership team.

Collaborate with the math faculty lead to manage implementation and support cross-institutional action.

Mathematics Department Chair

Make and communicate a long-term departmental commitment to mathematics pathways.

Chair the leadership team or appoint a representative.



Essential Ideas

  • Essential Idea 1

    Establish a cross-functional leadership team to coordinate systemic work.

  • Essential Idea 2

    Commit to and plan for implementation at scale.

  • Essential Idea 3

    Align mathematics pathways to programs of study early.

  • Essential Idea 4

    Align to other student success measures, especially to guided pathways.

  • Essential Idea 5

    Collaborate with transfer and K–12 partner institutions.

We at the Charles A. Dana Center describe this work as “faculty-led, administrator-supported, and policy-enabled," underscoring that mathematics faculty should be at the forefront, with administrators providing resources to sustain the work and supporting faculty to work with stakeholders across the institution. A cross-functional leadership team is an effective strategy to manage these efforts.

Hear about the experience of implementing mathematics pathways at Temple College from the perspectives of a student, faculty, and administrators.

Selected Resources:


NMP Scaling 2015-49.jpg

Drastically improving student success requires changing the normative practice of the institution. Leaders must clearly articulate early in the process what a full scale implementation means and communicate a commitment to that vision to the entire college community.

Selected Resources:


Effective implementation of math pathways means routinely enrolling students in the appropriate courses with appropriate supports. This approach requires clear, unambiguous recommendations on which math pathway is recommended or required for different programs. Alignment can be a long process, so starting early helps identify the “easy wins” quickly for the first round of implementation and enables planning to address the more difficult issues over time. The Dana Center offers a detailed guide in the Institutional Scaling Toolkit to support this process.

Selected Resources:



Mathematics pathways are most effective when they are incorporated into an overall student success agenda in order to create a consistent and coherent student learning experience. The process of implementing math pathways creates an opportunity for systemwide collaboration that can lead to improved alignment of all student support programs. We also strongly advocate that math pathways be integrated into a broader system of guided or structured pathways.

Selected Resources:

A Matter of Degrees, a series of reports from the Center for Community College Engagement:


Implementing math pathways at scale requires intense, focused work within the institution and outreach to external partners. Colleges and universities must work with transfer partners to ensure that students will be able to transfer AND apply mathematics credits to programs of study. It is also important that higher education institutions engage with high school educators to ensure K–16 alignment.

Selected Resources:

  • Modernizing Mathematics Pathways at Texas Universities: Insights from the New Mathways Project Transfer Champions ( Executive Summaryview full resourceDownloadFile/ Full Reportview full resourceDownloadFile)