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Former HIHE Director Authors Book Chapter on Transformational Learning

Joe Zolner, Senior Director of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education (HIHE) from 1999 to 2018, recently published a book chapter on ways to foster ongoing professional development and transformational learning among higher education leaders.

“Back in Summer 2018, I was contacted by Rob Kelly – a colleague, friend, and member of the IEM 2012 Cohort.  He invited me to contribute to a book he was developing on creative leadership in higher education,” Zolner noted.  “As it turned out, the timing was perfect because I had just stepped down from my full-time position as HIHE Director and had more time to engage in the kind of writing project that I had never been able to contemplate when holding a demanding administrative job at Harvard.”  While Joe no longer oversees the HIHE program portfolio, he continues to serve as Faculty Chair of the Management Development Program, the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, and Contemporary Challenges in Library Leadership.

Disruptive TransformationJoe’s book chapter appears in Disruptive Transformation: Leading Creative and Innovative Teams in Higher Education, published by NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.  Co-edited by Robert Kelly (Vice President and Special Assistant to the President at Loyola University Maryland) and Colin Stewart (Associate Dean of Student Involvement at Fresno State University), the book will be released at the NASPA 2020 Annual Conference in Austin, Texas on March 28.  While purchases can be made at the NASPA 2020 conference, the book is also available at the NASPA website.  It will also be available via Amazon in late March.

“I used Rob’s kind invitation as a welcome opportunity to reflect on the 20 years I was privileged to lead HIHE,” Joe explained.  “The Harvard Institutes have always espoused a commitment to create what we call ‘transformational learning experiences.’ When developing HIHE’s offerings, I regularly found myself pondering questions like: How would I know a transformational learning experience if I saw one?  What should HIHE be doing to deliver a unique professional development experience that truly transforms individuals and, by extension, their institutions? What, in fact, was I really trying to accomplish during all my years of work?  The process of writing this chapter ended up being a wonderful opportunity to try to formulate answers to these long-standing questions.”

Joe’s chapter – titled “Becoming a More Creative and Innovative Leader: Pursuing a Different Kind of Professional Development” – draws a distinction between what he calls “informational” and “transformational” forms of learning, posits that both are important ingredients for a balanced professional development “diet,” argues that many/most professional development offerings devote inadequate attention to transformational learning outcomes, and describes how HIHE programming strives to address this deficiency.

The book also includes perspectives from multiple authors representing many different types of institutions including liberal arts colleges, regional public universities, private comprehensive institutions, and community colleges. The diverse authors also serve in a wide range of professional roles that include faculty, senior administrators, student affairs officers, and a campus president.  Disruptive Transformation offers a historical perspective, identifies best practices for creative leadership, and explores intersections between creativity, innovation, and inclusion. The book also provides a model for creative and innovative leadership, including exercises to help guide higher education leaders on their professional journey.