The leadership and management of contemporary universities in South Africa is complex and answerable to an increasingly diverse and demanding body of stakeholders. Competition, once focused narrowly on enrolling the best students, has broadened to include every aspect of university endeavour at regional, national, continental and global levels. Although one outcome of our hyper-connected world is the universalization of experience, nonetheless the need remains for institutions to find and develop their individual identities if they are to successfully command systemic long-term support. What an institution does, how it communicates that purpose and how the resulting outcomes relate to society are the three most important communication touchpoints that link the leadership of a University and its Advancement programme to strong support.
The Inyathelo 9th Leadership Retreat provides a platform and open environment for the Vice-Chancellors, Executive Leaders and Advancement Directors to reflect on the best practices for ensuring successful Advancement programmes.
Setting the Context
The Leadership Retreat has been an integral part of the Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative, facilitating a space for reflection and debate on numerous topics over the years. It seems fitting that we return at this point to one of the fundamental precepts of the programme viz. that the relationship between Institutional Advancement and the Universities that they serve has to be close, responsible and responsive if institutional stability and success are to be achieved.
Institutional Advancement programmes are inextricably tied to the performance and perceptions held about their individual institutions and the higher education sector as a whole. Irrespective of whether funding and support are being sought from public or private entities, Advancement programmes must be able to engender trust and belief in the core mission of each individual university and respect for the sector. The value attributed to higher education goals and deliveries; the regard for the leadership of each institution; the conviction that universities act responsibly and with intent for the greater good; all of these and more are critical to Advancement programmes successfully accomplishing their goals. If Advancement and Universities are to succeed alumni, donors, friends and members of the community must trust and believe in their mission, intent and fiduciary responsibility.
Institutions that actively embed Advancement in the fabric of leadership and build the internal environment that embraces Advancement as an integral pillar for building support are able to cultivate relationships with their donors, alumni and partners that will elicit the kinds of support that gives solid substance to bold vision.