Examining What Institutional Structures and Forms of Leadership Support the Growth and Development of Non-Academic Professional Staff in Universities
The study of career development pathways and support for the population of university employees who do not hold an academic appointment is lacking. Many departments across one eastern Ontario institution are coming to rely on non-academic professionals to help drive strategic objectives within their respective faculties. The goal of this study is to gain insight into the experiences of the career growth of this group in an effort to understand their career journeys. University environments have become more complex, there are higher expectations from stakeholder groups, and changes to funding models and international competition for the best students and faculty is continually on the rise. All of this change has resulted in increased performance pressure for not just the senior administration, but also for the professional staff who do not hold academic contracts but contribute in many areas to the institution’s success. An increase in postings for non-academic professional administrators to assume leadership roles in program management, strategic projects and many of the more functional areas of the university gives weight to the value that this particular population can bring to the environment. The challenge then becomes how can the institution best support the growth and development of this population, given that the human resource infrastructure currently in place in most higher education institutions has been structured around the support of academic faculty holding many of these leadership roles. Additionally, what changes are needed to meet the needs of this new generation of leaders? Reflecting on my experiences in navigating my own career path is the catalyst for this research project, but with a specific goal of flushing out both the consistencies and differences between staff members across one university in Eastern Ontario in terms of their growth and development.