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  • Writer's pictureDave Taylor

Academic Synergy

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Dynamic academic leadership comes from a synergistic relationship between all stakeholders within an educational environment. To truly achieve effective academic synergy, there must be a shared belief in the purpose of the institution and its core values. To begin to develop a productive relationship between all stakeholders, a strategic plan built through a consultative process must be present, where stakeholders feel ownership in the institution’s strategic direction. A strategic plan as a foundational reference point will serve as a guide for decision-making and academic innovation, facilitating effective focus of an institution’s networks and resources.

OK, so ideally that all sounds great, but seriously, how often do we get academics to agree at every level of an organization? Academic freedom, independent thought, specific research interests, and comfort levels with narrow areas of expertise developed over time are all elements of pretty much every academic environment. And at its core, it is the beauty of the pursuit of knowledge and creative thinking. That being said, sometimes these aspects of the educational environment are not always conducive to building a cohesive academic direction within an organization, even with an established strategic plan that has been developed through a consultative methodology.

There will likely be differing opinions between academics on the importance of a vocational or a purely academic focus, and where the institution’s resources should be invested. Determining the organizational direction and investment of resources is ultimately the responsibility of senior management, and so… can these worlds come together and experience synergistic results? I really believe that they can.

Leading the way for Canadian colleges in their applied research activities, Niagara College Canada’s Research & Innovation team, led by Dr. Marc Nantel, is an example of a student-focused organization embracing and excelling at applied research.

Visit NC Research & Innovation:

The integration of students, faculty, industry, government and fellow academic institutions in their many projects demonstrates a leveraging of resources across a spectrum of interests that culminates in true synergy. Niagara College’s leadership role in the SONAMI network (Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation) has attracted significant government funding, industry participation, and rich student involvement providing a value-added educational experience for students, an academic forum for serious applied research, and a significant resource for industry.

In a world where competition between educational institutions vying for the dwindling demographics of their domestic markets is becoming more and more intense, being able to bring stakeholders together to provide an environment where each stakeholder perceives value and satisfaction with their relative investment is critical to differentiate yourself within the educational marketplace. And, when the stakeholders come together toward a common purpose, well…. the magic of academic synergy is bound to happen… just ask Marc Nantel.

Photo Credit: (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

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