Addressing Complex Issues and Crises in Higher Education With an Adaptive Leadership Framework

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Taylor & Francis

In response to freedom of speech crises and other pressing issues becoming more prevalent at college campuses, this conceptual paper provides a framework for higher education administrators, faculty, and staff to consider when challenges arise. Specifically, this paper highlights the framework of adaptive leadership before discussing three freedom of speech incidents at the University Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) that demonstrate the nuanced difficulties associated with crises at institutions of higher education. Then, the actions of administrators during the incidents are considered in light of the adaptive leadership behaviors, such as taking perspective and empowering people to bring change. Finally, implications and future research directions are discussed. By analyzing these incidents and the response by administrators, other higher education stakeholders may be better able to address their own complex campus issues, such as free speech challenges, global pandemics, and other localized activity using adaptive leadership behaviors.