Islamabad : The first of a series of training workshops aimed at the capacity-building of higher education leadership and faculty representing the 15 partner universities of the USAID-funded Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) concluded on the heels of the official launch of the HESSA project here the other day.
The thrust of the three-day workshop was on strengthening the administrative and technical capacities of Department Chairs, especially in devising a transformational strategic plan for their respective departments.
Opening the workshop, HESSA’s Chief of Party Dr. Aslam Chaudhry presented an overview of the HESSA project. He said, “The training aims to improve the skills necessary to be a successful department Chair with a strong visionary approach, from effective strategic planning and management to long-term sustainable improvements in the faculty and student success.”
Dr. Michael Barber from the University of Utah said, “This plan will define the roles of external stakeholders including advisory boards, and offer clarity on the significance of continued self-assessment to gauge improvements. The training will capacitate the participants to pass on their learning gains to fellow Department Chairs to bring about improvements in delivering quality education through the development of informed, strategic, and integrated plans.”
The workshop was part of a series of training sessions integrated with HESSA’s three focal areas for improving graduate employability. It saw an ideal mix of 48 male and female leaders comprising a cross-section of heads of departments, deans, and chairpersons. Aside from Dr. Michael Barber, the sessions were conducted by Dr. Delores Robinson from the University of Alabama, and Dr. Sajjad Ahmed from the University of Nevada.
Divided into three phases—in-person meetings, virtual Department Chairs’ forums, and three regional in-person workshops—the training shall reach fruition in January 2023. During this eight-month spread, the participants will engage in the development and refinement of strategic assessment plans.
The workshop’s concluding session featured an interactive question-answer session of the Chairs with Vice Chancellors of four HESSA-partner universities on the ‘Role of Department Chairs in Driving HEIs Organizational Development.’ The VCs shared their thoughts on the identification of areas where they may require orientation, and how they can play a pivotal role in contributing toward organizational change. The expectations of Department Chairs and Chairpersons vis-à-vis their responsibilities in terms of career advancement of Deans and VCs were also discussed.
Upon conclusion of the training’s first phase, the participants will work in synergy through a forum wherein they will be sharing their respective experiences, simultaneously working on the development of plans. HESSA will provide relevant material to facilitate learning activities for the implementation of these plans. The training concluded with VCs of four HEIs distributing certificates among the participants.