Stewardship and innovation

Stewardship of resources is often viewed as a risk-mitigation responsibility; more of a management task focused on budgets, allocations, and reports. Leaders need to be able to manage their resources and must understand basic financial processes. At MnSCU we offer an online course for all our administrators titled, “Finance for the Non-Financial Administrator.” It helps leaders understand revenue calculations, expense estimates, operating budgets and financial reports.

The current challenges in higher education require a deeper look at stewardship. Stewardship as a strategic balancing of the resources you manage and the innovation required to meet the needs of all our learners. teeter_totter_art_orig_43PRBPZR

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, in his opinion piece in the April 15, 2013 Chronicle of Higher Education, pushes us to look for opportunities to use our resources differently:

Finally, in this era of constrained public support for higher education, we must vigorously pursue new teaching and learning paradigms that offer lower-cost means of delivering high-quality higher education. The capabilities made possible by new technological advances, combined with cognitive research into how today’s students learn, make “disruptive innovations” possible.

While still honoring the time-tested strategies that lead to quality.

 Yes, we must proceed carefully, making sure to maintain the quality of learning produced by these innovations. But we cannot ignore the potential that these technology-driven “disruptions” to traditional classroom instruction offer.

To succeed as a leader, a solid foundation of fiscal stewardship is your starting point. From there you have the opportunity to truly make a difference at your institution and in higher education with your stewardship.

Todd Thorsgaard

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