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THE MODERN UNIVERSITY PROVOST.

The conventional academic enterprise is organized around matrix relationships that are political, bureaucratic, collegial--and increasingly economic. Peter Drucker has suggested that knowledge has become the key economic resource in contemporary organizations. Very seldom do we refer to academe as a learning organization with knowledge "brokerage" at the center of our management approach and the core of our leadership delivery. Academia will continue to retain provosts, deans, academic vice presidents, and other chief academic officers who are charged and challenged with leading the faculty in decentralized curriculum development and academic planning; setting the direction for the triangular applications of teaching, scholarship and service; understanding the educational mission and the interdisciplinary relationships of the arts, sciences, and the professions; overseeing all learning repositories and resources, ranging from academic libraries to laboratories; working collaboratively with campus constituencies whose participatory contributions provide a vehicle for academic dialogue; and facilitating the development of an infrastructure that combines strategic budgeting with program planning. However, modern provosts should consider the emerging role of the chief knowledge officer (CKO) as a model for modern leadership. Knowledge management (KM) is a relatively new strategy for leveraging the intellectual capital of the learning organization. KM can be helpful for benchmarking progress, continuous quality improvement and measuring performance as milestones in higher education. The general definition scope of KM is the creation, collection and cultivation of knowledge from best practices; the culmination of those practices or lessons learned as a knowledge base; and the assimilation and application of the knowledge rudiments to institutional conditions and environmental circumstances(1). The technique is a growing strategy in both the public and private sectors of commerce, technology, government and the business industry.

The role of the chief knowledge officer ranges in scope and is positioned according to organizational axiology. In general, the chief knowledge officer oversees the organization's knowledge infrastructure and manages the relationships within the organization to maximize knowledge productivity and enterprise strategy(2). The position frequently includes facilitating change processes, organizing technological innovation, monitoring organizational resources, and measuring the value of social capital through an on-going analysis of financial against the intrapreneurial contributions of personnel(3). Since knowledge management predominately requires the collaboration of human resources, it is necessary for the CKO to have a demonstrated ability to motivate and inspire people and to coordinate human relations through organizational synergy.

Utilizing information resources usually driven by institutional research, the modern provost should serve as the lead person for balancing knowledge at the core of matrix relationships. This entails the connection of knowledge assets to the organization's stakeholders and the development of a coherent curriculum that facilitates active learning through the transmission of tacit and explicit knowledge. Knowledge management should be the axis of shared decision making with faculty, with regard to academic issues. This may include qualitative and quantitative analysis of data about campus education, enrollment and environment. The provost should establish institutionally responsive bridges between internal and external publics to enhance the knowledge brokerage mission of academia. Connecting curriculum aims with instructional strategies between students and faculty is imperative; but the organizational resources must be clearly designated and carefully distributed to achieve benchmark indicators with measures and to maximize the knowledge outcomes of both students and faculty. The following five recommendations are highlighted for provosts and other academic administrators.

* Balancing knowledge transfer as the core of the undergraduate experience: To act as a knowledge facilitator and educational catalyst for providing a curriculum at the undergraduate level that transmits a lucid relationship between explicit and tacit knowledge with emphasis on the competencies in critical thinking, intellectual inquiry, and epistemological capacity-building. This is related to the fifth recommendation too. In this process, faculty should empower students to be good managers with their knowledge and employ them with the skills to conduct knowledge research on their own. They should use virtual as well as in-person instructional techniques and teach in the college classroom as a microcosm of our new global workplace.

* Cultivating knowledge through systemic leadership: To facilitate the exchange of ideas and the harnessing of knowledge between the various sectors of K-12, business, government and commerce is a growing function of the modern provost. This might include the analysis of demographic, socio-economic and other data-driven information in the regional marketplace and involve the renewal of "town and gown" liaisons in the community that will extend beyond the campus and its traditional "ivory tower" periphery. It should be noted that these relationships now extend to international audiences. To this end, the academic marketplace has experienced an escalation of mixed modes and instructional modalities that encompass "e-learning" and other combined on-line and on-site service deliveries.

* Facilitating faculty development through knowledge management: In a true sense, faculty are knowledge managers. They create, exchange, stimulate and disseminate knowledge. It will be critical for academic administrators to provide the resources to academic departments and the necessary support to foster the professorial roles of faculty in service, teaching and research. Incentive-based faculty development and professional training is both pivotal and paramount. Moreover, academic administrators should continue to preserve shared governance, due process and the perils of academic freedom that are required for genuine intellectual diversity and gnostic preponderance.

* Enhancing pedagogy through knowledge management strategies: To foster the unique pedagogical and andragogical instructional deliveries of faculty through the exploration, infusion and integration of emerging technologies and contemporary knowledge management techniques. This will require the academic administrator or lead savant, as a knowledge manager, to examine what knowledge is being taught, how it is being taught, when it is taught, and why it is taught to yield cognitive productivity among the stakeholders (students and faculty) in our new learning-centered academy.

* Fostering the academic culture and creating a learning-centered climate: To serve as the internal leader for promoting and advocating a spherical culture that is conducive to the ongoing search and manifestation of truth--however disconcerting this voyage may lead many in the educational process. The teaching and learning process encompasses an organization framework that is most conducive for modern knowledge management. The educational process requires those who contribute to classroom dynamics--faculty and students--to examine the usual cause and effect relationships during academic inquiry; to differentiate between opinion-based tidings and fact- driven data; to assess information bias that is often disguised as rhetoric and dogma; to compare and contrast diverse points of view and varying positions from values; to recognize logical fallacies as well as faulty reasoning that often enters academic genre and the interpretations of life through the paradoxical tenets of metaphysics, paradigms, dichotomy, ideology, metaphors, and logomachy; to solve problems, and resolve conflicts and make informed decisions based on solvent methods and strategic means. Finally, through inferential skill development, knowledge management in the academic inquiry and intellectual process can help stakeholders in the academy synthesize information from logically-drawn hypotheses(4). This is particularly relevant to research institutions pursuing empirical evidence as a foundation of the exploratory process. The inherent elements of knowledge management have profound parallels to higher education curriculum, teaching and administration.

(1.) This is a generic definition used in the corporate sector.

(2.) Ibid

(3.) Ibid

(4.) These cognitive areas were identified as assessment outcomes when the author served on the statewide General Intellectual Skills Committee for College Outcomes with the former New Jersey Department of Higher Education.

DR. JOSEPH MARTIN STEVENSON College of Education Florida International University University Pare Miami, Florida 33199
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Author:STEVENSON, JOSEPH MARTIN
Publication:Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2000
Words:1224
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