As our work at the National Forum has evolved over the past 10 years, so has our approach.  Whereas earlier projects focused on various aspects of higher education for the public good, we are  reframing our work from a leadership perspective.  Specifically, we are trying to ask one another how all of our various projects create and promote leadership opportunities around higher education for the public good.  Thus, we are giving significant attention to providing resources for partners across the country and around the world as they address issues of access and opportunity, and as they promote higher education as a bulwark of the public good.

Minority Serving Institutions

The U.S. population is changing as we become a more diverse country which means our institutions are also becoming more diverse. The National Forum as part of one of the nation’s Centers for the Study of Higher education has had a longstanding interest on the impact of these demographic changes on higher education. How are our colleges and universities responding to the changes? How are they becoming more inclusive and equitable in their engagement with a more diverse student body but also their “sending communities?” Minority Serving Institutions, because of historic founding or new population focus, serve a unique role in addressing the educational needs of America’s growing diversity. The National Forum has undertaken a number of projects related to MSIs. Our projects have looked at the impact of funding levels on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), at the role of these institutions in addressing issues of undocumented, and capacity development as more and more institutions become HSIs. Our research is exploring the changing missional roles of Historically Black Colleges as they enroll more non-black students, and our work on immigration overlaps with this MSI work as we consider the role of community colleges in working with undocumented students.

The important goals for us are embedded in two strategic questions:

  • How do these institutions build capacity and effectiveness that highlights their commitment to provide a quality education to diverse and sometimes underrepresented student populations?
  • How can the higher education community partner with and learn from the work of these institutions such that all institutions become more effective in educating students representing the growing diversity of the nation and world?

A 2014 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is helping the National Forum examine the role of leadership development for minority serving institutions. Understanding the role of leadership in institution is important, and understanding the unique needs of these institutions is important to their development.

We have also committed to several research projects that specifically examine leadership as a theoretical construct.

Some of the projects currently underway include:

  • An examination of the spiritual aspects of male faculty teaching and scholarship.  Spirituality is showing up more commonly in several conceptualizations of leadership, including especially spiritual leadership and servant-leadership.  This qualitative study examines the spiritual implications of faculty leadership and promises to highlight some original and exciting findings.  This is an unfunded project, for which the authors will seek publication in various outlets.
  • An examination of the interplay between servant-leadership and college chaplaincies.  Servant-leadership draws from many religious sources and experiences; often those who most readily relate to the theory have some personal religious or spiritual experiences that resonate with the theory.  This qualitative study explores the ways that college and university chaplains make use of servant-leadership in their chaplaincies.  This is an unfunded project, for which the authors will seek publication in various outlets.
  • Compendium of contemporary research on servant-leadership.  Since 2008, the National Forum has partnered with the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership on the Greenleaf Scholars Program.  As a result, 10 Scholars have been funded to engage in original, empirical studies of servant-leadership.  These studies, along with other contemporary scholarship, provide exciting evidence of the viability of servant-leadership in practice.  This edited volume will highlight contemporary scholarly research, in an accessible format, to help bring research to bear on numerous organizational settings.  This project is unfunded.