Center for Youth and Communities

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The Brandeis Think Tanks, a component of the Brandeis Academy for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence, provide a rare, ongoing professional development opportunity that brings higher education administrators who hold the same job at different campuses in the region together for sustained dialogue, collective reflection, and collaborative problem solving.

Under the auspices of Brandeis University’s Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management the Think Tanks are designed to enhance members’ leadership capacity by stimulating reflection on practice; providing a cross-institutional network of peers from diverse institutions with whom they can speak honestly and confidentially about the challenges they face on their respective campuses; and helping practitioners develop the knowledge base they need to navigate new pressures and expectations.

CYC began convening Think Tanks for Chief Academic Officers, Chief Student Affairs Officers, Academic Deans, Associate Academic Deans, and Multicultural Affairs Officers in spring 2015.

Brandeis Faculty Senate Leaders Think Tank

Transition of the Think Tanks to Brandeis

The Think Tank approach to professional development is distinguished by several key features:

  • Solution oriented. Think Tank meetings are designed to help administrators develop the knowledge base they need to be leaders and change agents on their campuses by capitalizing on the expertise of peers as problem solvers and strategic thinkers and stimulating reflection on practice through theoretical and practical readings, problem-focused agendas, and moderated discussions.
  • Member driven. Discussion topics are identified by members and are responsive to the professional development needs of higher educations’ evolving workforce. Members, drawn from a diverse group of regional institutions, are skilled practitioners who are willing to engage current challenges in higher education with thoughtfulness and creativity.
  • Ongoing and contemporaneous. Unlike periodic workshops, conferences, and webinars, face-to-face Think Tank meetings take place up to four times during each academic year.
  • Diverse. Administrators in higher education in the region meet with their counterparts from institutions both similar to and different from their own - public and private, rich and poor, urban and rural, two and four year. The diversity of institutional affiliations among members stimulates members to address complex issues from many angles.
  • Community oriented. Tanks provide members with a network of professional relationships sustained over a number of years. Representing the continuum from newly-minted to highly-experienced professionals, Think Tank members report that their participation has turned colleagues into respected advisors and friends in ways that most professional development activities do not.
  • Confidential. Time is also allotted for an informal “round robin” discussion which enables members to seek advice and support from one another.
  • Cost effective leadership development. Today colleges and universities need to make the most of existing resources to be successful both now and in the future. Developing leadership from within is a cost-effective way to invest in institutional success. Think Tanks offer a cost-effective way to invest in institutional success by developing leadership from within.

More information about the Think Tanks

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