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College Drinking Prevention - Changing the Culture

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View From The President's Office: The Leadership Of Change

Staff/Skills

 

"Ensure that qualified personnel are designated to implement campus efforts… Ensure faculty and staff receive ongoing training through professional development…Hire staff with pertinent knowledge, skills, and experience."

Promising Practices: Campus Alcohol Strategies, 1998 (Anderson)


 

As with any program, implementing alcohol initiatives involves assigning responsibilities and creating accountability. In addition, universities often find that adopting alcohol-related priorities requires a change in or an addition to staff skills. Organizational change theory suggests that both these factors will be important to alcohol program success.

All of the schools represented in the interviews have assigned responsibilities for handling alcohol issues. While the most common overall "honcho" for alcohol programs is the Vice President for Student Affairs, other department heads have related responsibilities. These include directors of athletics, residence life and residence halls, Greek life, enforcement, judicial systems, student health, and dining services.

In addition to creating lines of staff responsibility, it is also important for colleges to ensure that they have the types of expertise they need to implement programs effectively. President Pierce, for example, hired a Ph.D. psychologist with previous college alcohol experience to help review their situation and set up programs. Several Puget Sound faculty members with topic-related specialties (one did his doctoral dissertation on the problem) have also been enlisted.

Institutions with grant funding have also been able to hire people with additional types of expertise critical to alcohol efforts. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation "Matter of Degree" grants provide the half-time services of an evaluation specialist, emphasizing the importance the Foundation places on data collection and assessment. At Louisiana State, a communications director for the campus/community coalition has been invaluable in working with the press, the community, and educational materials development. "In my experience, a program coordinator, evaluation specialist, and communications director are key positions for making a campus/community coalition work effectively," notes Dr. Nancy Matthews.

The Presidents Leadership Group suggested that the campus prevention coordinator should act "as a change agent" on campus. Accordingly, that individual's skill base must go beyond education and program development to include political organizing, coalition building, and advocacy" (Presidents Leadership Group, 1997)—skills that might not intuitively be associated with this position.

President Malloy, who has hired three people with expertise in alcohol education at Notre Dame, cautions that hiring new staff should not be an automatic response. "The danger is that with the proliferation of staff we become an industry, which consumes time and resources. And we don't solve the problem by adding new job titles, so it's important to be selective in assessing skills needs."

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Last reviewed: 9/23/2005


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