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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In Search of Business Innovation on Campus

Higher education has a reputation, deserved or not, for being resistant to change. Some universities, according to a report in eCampus News, are trying to dispel that image by appointing a chief innovation officer to lead and encourage positive change on the business side of the institution.

A study by Russell Reynolds Associates found that 20%-30% of the “top” 50 U.S. universities have developed a senior-level position devoted to innovation, entrepreneurship, or new ventures. Their specific duties may vary, but in general “this role is strategic and aims at driving and maximizing revenues from innovation,” said the report.

Chief innovation officers focus on finding new and different revenue sources for the university, rather than looking for ways to bring innovation to teaching and learning, but some are involved in fostering greater collaboration across departments and disciplines.

Innovation can take two forms: sustained or disruptive, according to Education Dive’s new monthly Innovation Column. “Sustained innovation maintains the current framework of competitive idea engineering, while disruptive developments change the trajectory of how leaders must operate for their institutions to stay competitive, or even survive,” wrote Shalina Chatlani.

Chatlani noted that slow adaptation—sustained innovation—may be more effective in higher education. “It’s important for leaders to consider what it means to stay true to a mission or navigate an uncertain financial or political environment,” she wrote. “Positive change does not necessarily have to be disruptive.”

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