Course Title: Introduction to Higher Education Administration

        Instructor Professor Christopher Morphew
       Institution University of Kansas
Office Number 913.864.9845
E-mail address

This course is constructed to provide master's students with an introduction to higher education. Primarily, the course provides a foundation for understanding how colleges and universities work. The course is designed for persons who may be pursuing a career in a higher education organization. Readings and projects are designed to incorporate and build upon both practical and theoretical knowledge.

Class meetings will be centered around discussions of assigned readings. While the instructor will have specific points and topics for discussion, students should come to class prepared to discuss assigned readings or related material on current issues. Frequently, class meetings will include a discussion of a current issue "in the news" in higher education or a hypothetical case study.

Course objectives include:

introducing the higher education administration literature;
introducing specialized terminology and concepts found in higher education research;
helping students to think comprehensively and critically about the purposes, achievements and directions of the U.S. higher education system;
helping students to conceptualize the higher education administration as a professional career

Class assignments

1. For each class, completion of all required readings.

2. Active participation in class discussions. You should prepare comments and questions for each class meeting. What did you find interesting in this week's readings? What made sense given your own experience? What didn't make sense?

3. It is in your best interests to keep abreast of current issues in higher education. This can be done by reading, for example, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and higher education journals such as Journal of Higher Education, The Review of Higher Education and Research in Higher Education.

4. Because your active participation is required in order for this course to be successful, this component of the course will be worth 25% of your final grade.

Required Texts

Altbach, P.G., Berdahl, R.O. and Gumport, P.J. (Eds.). (1994). Higher Education in American Society. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Leslie, D.W. and Fretwell, E.K. (1996). Wise Moves in Hard Times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Birnbaum, R. (1988). How Colleges Work: The Cybernetics of Academic Organization and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

There will also be a course packet available for purchase. One copy will be held on reserve at Watson Library under the course number. You may copy readings out of that copy if you choose. Readings denoted by an "*" are available in the course packet.

Course outline

August 25 - Intro to course and U.S. higher education

Altbach - Foreword
Altbach - Intro
Some discussion on U.S. higher ed system

September 8 - Black colleges and women's colleges

*Whitt, E.J. (1994). "I can be anything!": Student leadership in three women's colleges. Journal of College Student Development, 35(3), 198-207.

*Rudolph, F. (1990). The education of women. In F. Rudolph, The American College and University: A History. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

*Wenglinsky, H.H. (1996). The educational justification of historically black colleges and universities: a policy response to the U.S. Supreme Court. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 18(1), 91-103.

*Bohr, L., Pascarella, E.T., Nora, A. and Terenzini, P.T. (1995). Do black students learn more at historically black or historically white colleges? Journal of College Student Development, 36(1), 75-85.

September 15 - Comprehensive and research universities

*Froomkin, J. Research universities face difficult choices. New Directions for Institutional Research, n79, 47-58.

*Kerr, C. (1995). The idea of a multiversity. In C. Kerr, The uses of the university. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

September 22 - Living and Working within the Higher Education Community

First Assignment Due

Altbach - College Students in Changing Contexts

Altbach - Problems and Possibilities: The American Academic Profession

Altbach - Academic Freedom at the End of the Century: Professional Labor, Gender and Professionalism

September 29 - Leading colleges and universities

Birnbaum - Problems of governance, management and leadership in academic institutions

Birnbaum - Thinking in systems and circles: the structure and dynamics of academic organizations

Birnbaum - Making decisions and making sense: the administrator's role

October 6 - Hurdles in the way of change

Birnbaum - The collegial institution: sharing power and values in a community of equals

Leslie - Decisions and conflict

Birnbaum - The bureaucratic institution: rationalizing structure and decision making

October 13 - Politics and Anarchy in Higher Education

Birnbaum - The political institution: competing for power and resources

Birnbaum - Effective administration and leadership in the cybernetic institution

Morphew, C.C. (in press). Understanding the acquisition of new degree programs. Paper presented at 1997 ASHE Annual Conference.

October 20 - Facing problems

Leslie - Common Lessons from Hard Times

Leslie - Sources of Stress

Leslie - Impact of Stress

October 27 - External influences

Second Assignment Due

Altbach - The federal government and higher education

Altbach - The courts

Altbach - Other external constituencies and their impact on higher education

November 3 - The States and Higher Education

Altbach - The states and higher education

*Marcus, L.R. (1997). Restructuring state higher education governance patterns. The Review of Higher Education, 20(4), 399-418.

*1997 Report on State Higher Education Coordination and Governance. California Higher Education Policy Center.

November 10 - Accountability and Leadership

Altbach - Autonomy and accountability: some fundamental issues

Birnbaum - The cybernetic institution: providing direction through self-regulation

Birnbaum - Effective administration and leadership in the cybernetic institution

November 17 - Wise moves?

Leslie - Analyzing the institution's condition

Leslie - Triage

November 24 - More "Wise moves?"

Leslie - Strategy and realism: promoting enlightened change

Leslie - Resilience in times of fiscal stress

Leslie - Unfinished business

December 1 - Missions and Comparative Systems

Leslie - Mission and Organization

Altbach - The Insulated Americans: Five Lessons from Abroad

December 8 - Wrap-up

We will tie up loose ends here.

Written Assignments

The first assignment requires you to "travel" the World Wide Web to "visit" and gather data on 3-4 colleges or universities that occupy the same Carnegie Classification group. Using the data, students will construct a 7-9 page paper that compares and contrasts each of the institutions. Primarily, your paper should describe important similarities and differences between each of the institutions and identify how these differences might affect various campus constituencies (e.g., students, faculty, administrators).

This first assignment should use information from course readings to identify how the factual differences between the institutions you choose will affect each of these constituencies. The first assignment is due on September 22nd and is worth 25% of your final grade.

Try "" for a listing of colleges and universities.

The second assignment will require you to research and profile a higher education decision-making body (e.g., faculty senate, institutional or system governing board or student senate). Using data gathered from your observation of at least one open formal meeting of the body and research on the group's bylaws, mission, selection process, policies and procedures, you will construct a profile of 7-10 pages. This assignment is due on the October 27th and is worth 20% of your final grade.

The profile should be inform questions including, but not limited to:

What is the body's purpose? How are the members selected? Who are the formal (and informal) leaders of the body -- how do you know? What action can the body take to achieve its purposes? What actions were taken at the meeting you attended? How were/weren't those actions related to the body's larger mission? What is the body's role in institutional governance? Did any of the actions of the body at its formal meeting differ from what you expected having researched the group's purpose and policies?

Consider Birnbaum's discussions we read for weeks 4 and 5. Which of his descriptions of higher education governance (and governance bodies) ring true in your profile?

The third assignment will require students to complete a case study analysis of 9-12 pages. The analysis will contain a description of the problem in question, a suggested course(s) of action and a theoretical grounding for the course suggested. More information on this subject -- as well as the case studies -- will be given out at a later date. This assignment is due on December 15th and is worth 30% of your final grade.


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