Teachers in the classroom and the people who lead them are faced with a number of challenges.
Benedictine University professor and veteran educator Sunil Chand, Ph.D., believes that there is no one solution to every problem, and innovation and motivation are the keys to solving the challenges facing education today.
"The thing I want my students to know is that while there are no single answers, a great deal is being done," he said. "I want them to know where to look for primary sources for the best current thinking and practices."
Chand is the director of Benedictine's Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Higher Education and Organizational Change program. The former College of DuPage president, who earned a Ph.D. from Kent State University, has more than 30 years of experience in higher education.
Having led a community college with more than 30,000 students, it is not surprising that sharing his insights into leadership with students is his greatest satisfaction.
"Teaching students about leadership and the challenges facing higher education leaders is my favorite subject at Benedictine," he said. "Leadership offers the opportunity to improve the success of students, the work and satisfaction of employees and thesustainability of the institution.
"At the individual level, leadership also translates into innovation," he added. "Guiding the thinking and development of my students in these areas motivates me as a practitioner and scholar, and I know I am assisting them to develop knowledge and skills that are fundamental to their careers."
Benedictine's Ed.D. program is unique in that it combines higher education issues with organizational change theory and practice, but still conveys the traditions of a Benedictine education – high expectations combined with careful listening, conversation, hospitality and responsiveness.
Mentoring students is also important to their success, Chand said, although mentoring outside the classroom must be handled delicately.
"Effective and regular faculty mentoring inside the classroom is very important," he said. "But at the doctoral level, one is careful about mentoring outside the classroom. You watch for signs that may signal the need for intervention, and one certainly offers and responds to any requests for help.
"But the greatest mentoring effort comes during the dissertation process – guiding the student and supporting the student through completion of that difficult journey," he added.
Chand said that being an active participant in professional organizations keeps one abreast of the current thinking in education, and also benefits his students.
"My leadership networks have opened opportunities for many of our students to meet and work with people at the height of our profession – presidents, chancellors, scholars, consultants and researchers, many of whom they study in their courses," he said.
"These leaders are their role models and become part of their own networks," Chand added.
He considers that kind of service to students his greatest professional accomplishment.
"Service to students, as a teacher and administrator, improving their success, and receiving student recognition and affection, unsolicited but organized and offered by student leadership, has been the greatest prize," Chand said.
And to his students, he offers a few simple words of advice.
"Make use of every opportunity," he said. "You get back in measure against what you give."