Administration- A world of career possibilities in Higher Education
Explore them in a new online program starting this fall
If you work in a university, college, or polytechnic, you may be an administrator and not even know it.
In the world of higher education, administration includes all non-academic professionals. If you are not faculty, you are an administrator.
Now, imagine how many administrative roles there might be for you to explore as you build your career in higher education. And, if you are looking for career possibilities, now you can learn all about this unique world of possibilities while you earn a university credential to add to your resume.
Higher Education Administration
Higher Education Administration is the new online program providing an introduction to the unique world of higher education and how higher education works. It was designed by Extended Education at the University of Manitoba to complement onboarding at Canadian universities, colleges, and polytechnics.
People don’t choose administration, says Krista Pearson, registrar at Algonquin College, and the facilitator for the Students in Higher Education course in Higher Education Administration.
“Every administrator comes from outside, starts from elsewhere. They may be an academic or technician. Their core skills and passion leads them to be an administrator,” says Pearson.
Early in her administrative career, Pearson added another Extended Education program to her resume. The Certificate in University & College Administration (CUCA) was an invaluable opportunity for her to connect with colleagues from across the country and start to build her professional network. “For me, an online professional development program provided common ground for future conversations. I met others in student services and connected with like professionals as well as those with different experiences. Knowing them, having the course in common, was a way to build community, to remain current, relevant, and responsive to the world around us. We shared our own scope of experience and ideas, and learned from others.”
In contrast to CUCA, the new Higher Education Administration takes a much broader approach, she says. “It really focuses on having a national conversation, with administrators from various disciplines. This type of experience is invaluable to new administrators. Our passion for higher education brings us together, to work better and to improve the student experience.”
A people business
Administration is a people business, says Alan Davis, president and vice chancellor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in British Columbia, and the instructor for the Higher Education Administration Professional course in Higher Education Administration.
“It feels like a generational change is coming. People are retiring, so we need their successors to think about higher education careers, and to understand the environment. This program is a great idea. Taking it will demonstrate to those hiring that you are ready for the job. It will give you a leg up, and show a demonstrated commitment. You will learn a lot,” says Davis.
Higher education is two worlds working together, academic and administrative, says Heather Stamp Nunes, manager of learning and development at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and instructor for the Higher Education Professional course in Higher Education Administration.
“Traditionally, administrators supported academics. Today, administrative professionals have an important role, to support change and provide programming and support services,” says Stamp Nunes.
“I see a huge opportunity for administrative professionals to learn about all kinds of careers in the academic setting. There is a lot going on if you are interested in opportunities for growth,” says Stamp Nunes.
Kelly McInnes, Chief Leadership Development Officer in Human Resources at the University of Saskatchewan and consultant for Higher Education Administration, can’t imagine not working in higher education. “I have had a lot of great opportunities at the university… I feel privileged to be a part of it in some small way. When all the students come back in the fall, when convocation is held, I am reminded why the university is here and what we are about,” says McInnes.
“I hope through this program people will be able to feel less frustrated with post-secondary institutions and have a better understanding of what they are experiencing in them. Instead of wondering what the heck is going on, they will have an awareness to help them find their way through it,” says McInnes.
Administration can be challenging, says Deborah Dunbar, director of organizational and staff development at George Brown College in Toronto, and consultant for the Higher Education Administration program..
“It’s one thing to see your job on paper. It’s another to live it, day in and day out. At first, you can feel like you are in a different country,” says Dunbar.
“It can be hard to get a decision made. I learned to be very clear on my agenda, to go through the proper channels and get the right person. It requires a lot of follow-up. My priority is not always theirs. I have to present my case and get it in front of the right person. Sometimes that shifts. It often takes patience and good support from your own manager. There are never enough resources or people. There is always more than you can do.,” says Dunbar.
Indigenization for administrators
The Indigenization course will look at the Indigenous perspective in the colonial context, says Sheelah McLean, sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, and co-instructor of the Indigenization course in the Higher Education Administration program.
“We will ask ourselves how best to respond to the impact of colonialism,” says McLean. “The more education we have, the more likely we are to address the inequities Indigenous people continue to face.”
People have a basic understanding of Indigenous history but they need to delve a bit deeper, says Alex Wilson, director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, and co-instructor of the Indigenization course in the Higher Education Administration program.
“They need to understand the history of power dynamics and how it impacts people today. Indigenous people had valid knowledge of their own prior to colonization. It was based on kinship and their connection to the land. People tend to think of Indigenous knowledge as arts and crafts like beading and dream catchers, visual elements of culture. But we are helping people to go deeper. The culture is connected to a knowledge that is ancient. People survived for tens of thousands of years with it,” says Wilson.
One day, young people will not be able to imagine how some of the racist behaviours of today ever happened because it will simply be outside of their experience, says Wilson.