4 How to Gain Administrative Support

Jeff Dykhuizen, Farzane Farazdaghi, Barbara Thorngren

In this chapter, we will outline some procedures that have been found to be successful at obtaining administrative support. Some administrators, like some faculty members and students, are, of course, more interested in and supportive of peace studies programs than others. It is important to identify from the beginning which administrators—presidents, vice-presidents, deans, division chairs and counseling staff–are supportive, and to cultivate their interest and support. As administrators necessarily need to have a ―big picture” perspective, it should not be too difficult to convince them of the value of having a peace studies programs in community colleges. One simple way of doing so is sharing with them the enthusiasm of their peers at other colleges. For example, one proud administrator, Robert Pura, President of Greenfield Community College wrote that, — Our vision is to strengthen our communities one student at a time…,” continuing that —…no one program better embraces that vision” than the Peace Studies Program. [1]

The suggestions provided in this chapter are organized into stages, starting with simply an idea of creating a peace studies program to establishing sustained support for the program. The suggestions below are examples of strategies that have worked to gain administrative support. This listing is not exhaustive — how you shape your efforts to gain lasting administrative support will depend to a large degree on the values and culture of your college. The best practical advice is: Be flexible, be persistent.


Early Stages

Develop a Plan to Share with Administration

In the early stages of development, create a plan to share with administration. This plan should focus on developing a program with a strong structure to present to administrators. In addition, identifying and reaching out to those administrators who are likely to be supportive of a program in peace studies is an important step in this early stage. Knowledge and interaction with supportive administrators may make it easier to obtain support from other members of the college community and from appropriate groups within the local community. While verbal support is useful, written statements are more powerful in providing evidence of support.

  • Develop and share a variety of models based on existing programs at other community colleges, asking for suggestions & feedback from administrators.
  • Design the Peace Studies Program as an Instructional Program – have a plan as to how the program will benefit the college and its students (examples: increasing enrollment, enhancing college image & marketability, and being an institution for change. Link to the college mission and strategic plan.).
  • Choose a program name that is consistent with the mission and vision of the college and the community: Peace Studies, Peace & Social Justice Studies, Global Peace Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies.
  • Consider conducting a market survey to see what name will attract more students.
  • Compile an initial budget showing start up costs and potential revenue.
  • Conduct a market survey with the community and with students to show feasibility.

Approach Supportive Administration

  • Share the plan and what will be required to develop a successful program. Provide brochure and informational materials from other colleges and universities.
  • Identify what ―type” of program it will be within the college’s structure—a transfer program? Occupational? Which type fits the structure of your institution and its relationship with other institutions? For example, at Delta College the Global Peace Studies program was designed as a transfer program, with a 3+1 articulation agreement with a 4-year institute in the area.
  • Ask for guidance in identifying the individuals or departments to include for the ―next steps” of program development. Examples include a curriculum developer, articulation officers, relevant deans, foundation officers, counselors, and faculty which teach related courses, etc. Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio requires a new program or certificate proposal to follow set guidelines for submission and approval of each step along the way by key stakeholders.
  • Create an advisory committee/board with community members, potential four year colleges and universities where the students might transfer, key internal stakeholders and administration. Consider the disciplines your students may enter and invite individuals who can provide guidance from that perspective such as educational institutions, community organizations, courts, government, health care, law enforcement, and local businesses. Include individuals from organizations which may help recruit students for the program, such as school counselors, representatives from youth serving organizations, and others. At Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, the community advisory for the development of the certificate program in Conflict Management and Peace Studies (designed for students across disciplines), is comprised of government, law enforcement, justice, education, non­governmental organizations, health, and business representatives. These representatives assisted in reviewing outcomes for the core courses and for the selection of electives
  • Develop a strategic plan and a timeline for the development and establishment of the program. Establish (or at least plant the seed for) release time for the program chair.

Professional Development

During initial stages of program development obtain funding for professional development of program chair and faculty. Funding sources include: endowments, grants, special funding, foundation monies, etc. Many state and national organizations will also provide free training. Use funding for professional development to attend conferences, seminars, workshops, to gather textual resources, etc.

Organizations to consider for professional development:

Few community colleges have faculty with degrees in the field of peace and conflict studies. More frequently, the interested parties have a degree in a related field and have a particular special interest in these topics. The more program developers and interested staff can build their learning by attending workshops, training, professional development, conferences, or even taking a few courses in specific topic areas through a partner college or university which specializes in this field, the more evidence there is for administration that the program is viable. Faculty and staff with these skills can also provide evidence of the viability of this work through the college by developing curriculum, giving presentations to groups and organizations in the community, providing training to the community, etc

Middle Stage

Involve other Groups and Agencies

To cement support on campus for a peace or conflict studies program, it is important to involve a variety of community groups, other educational institutions, local governmental agencies, members of the business community, and appropriate peace-mission organizations during the middle stage of program development.

Support for a peace studies program often occurs from unforeseen sources. To develop a strong support base, it is necessary to spend time (often a great deal of time) cultivating ―friends” for the proposed program. Make connections with like-minded individuals and agencies in the community:

Possible local agencies to create connections/ work collaboratively with:

  • Community Law Enforcement
  • Interfaith Dialogue Groups
  • Environmental Stability Groups
  • Area Businesses & Manufacturing
  • Veterans groups
  • Area Schools & Teachers

Possible national & international agencies to create connections/ work collaboratively:

  • Global Youth Connect: http://www.globalyouthconnect.org/

Expand upon organizational connections.

  • Brainstorm how the program will “work together” with these agencies
  • Involve individuals passionate about the program across the college in making connections with these organizations: administrators, faculty from various disciplines, counselors, librarians, support staff, etc.

Build Awareness

Generate awareness of the program within the college and the community.

  • Utilize college & local newspapers, electronic postings, student activities, etc. Invite speakers, hold workshops
  • Visit & present at local agencies (Rotary, People to People, local schools, etc) Photo document events and presentations

Compose more comprehensive documents/reports that show the value of the program to the college, its students, and the community.

  • Show how the program exemplifies the college’s mission and vision
  • Show how the program fulfills various General Education requirements
  • Create a pipeline to 4 year institutions that the students can easily transfer
  • Obtain letters of support from 4 year institutions
  • Document how the college now has program expertise in the knowledge and skill possessed by the program chair
  • Show connections with and how the program fulfills needs within the community
  • Create a speakers bureau of staff that can speak in the community as a public service

Outline how a Peace Studies degree will benefit students seeking to work in various fields.

  • Social work, international business, politics, education, economics…
  • Peace Corps, Americorps, Vista
  • United Nations, USAID, World Bank, NGOs, etc…
  • U.S. government, the State Department

Strengthen the program with administrative advocate’s support.

  • Meet with curriculum committee members and gain their support by raising their confidence in transferability of Peace Studies to higher education.
  • At all times make the human to human connectivity one of the strengths of the program
  • Solicit student involvement: student clubs and projects associated with program
  • Partner with other programs and/or initiatives already existing at college: multicultural, student services, service learning, learning communities, sustainability, honors program, etc
  • Hold workshops at the college to help the the program gain visibility
  • Hold career workshops and invite the experts to talk about the possibilities for graduates of Peace Studies
  • Work with curriculum developers, counselors at college & articulation agents as needed

Final Stage – Program-Sustainability

Develop a Financial Plan

In the final stage of development, the sustainability stage, it is important to develop a financial plan that includes income generation for the program and the department in which the program operates. Possibilities such as grants, scholarships, summer conferences, continuing education workshops, or community collaborations all demonstrate to college officials that program personnel understand the business aspect of supporting a peace studies program. This is where the market survey of students and the community becomes helpful.

Items to consider as expenses in the budget may include:

  • Release time for faculty working to refine or develop courses
  • Marketing materials such as flyers, advertisements, information at conferences, etc. See the marketing chapter of the manual for additional ideas.
  • Professional development for faculty and staff
  • Workshops, conferences, lecture series, projects and activism (these items could also generate revenue)
  • A renewable line in the college budget for maintaining the program

Items to consider as revenue or include in the budget may include:

  • Student registration for classes
  • Workshops, conferences, lecture series, projects and activism
  • Grants, scholarships, donations

If the plan is well articulated, providing the rationale and justification for a program tied with the current colleges mission and strategic plans it typically is not difficult for them to see the value of academic programs in peace studies. As Jean Goodnow, President of Delta College writes,

Community colleges are already intricately involved in community/economic development, sustainability, diversity initiative and globalization education. Expanding these interdependent concepts within a Global Peace Studies Program is a natural progression which I wholeheartedly endorse as our students need to redefine the parameters of what they define as their community.

Hence, the task is not so much in convincing high-level administration of the value of peace studies programs, but in providing them with evidence of the value of such programs that they can then use to help secure sustainable support.

About the Authors: Jeff Dykhuizen is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Delta College. Farzane Farazdaghi works at Golden West College. Barbara Thorngren is the Education Department Chair at Nashua Community College

  1. Full letters of support from administrators are included in the appendix for this chapter.


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How to Gain Administrative Support by Jeff Dykhuizen, Farzane Farazdaghi, Barbara Thorngren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.