Toward a Caring University: An Interview with Kevin McClure, Part 1


Kevin McClure, PhD, is an associate professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and codirector of the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges. He regularly publishes about leadership and higher education structures in publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education and EdSurge. He sat down with contributing editor Rebecca Pope-Ruark to discuss the book he is working on about the caring university and his views on preparing future leaders for work in higher education. Part 1 of the interview is presented here, lightly edited for clarity.

Rebecca Pope-Ruark: Hi, Kevin, thanks for chatting with me to today. You're working on a new book now. Tell us a little bit about how it came into being.

Kevin McClure: Yes, the book was not planned. Basically, I started writing a column myself on questions of leadership and communication in some of the early responses to the pandemic. And, through a combination of personal experience and observation and conversation with other people, that pivoted into a few columns exploring issues of the workplace, primarily focused on this pandemic moment that we are in. As I was exploring some of those issues, though, it became clear that some of those workplace problems that I associated very much with the pandemic have a much longer history in higher education, a much more structural or organizational history. Some of these are just long-standing problems that we have had in higher education. Through some of that writing, I started to see a series of possible organizational changes that could do a better job of supporting faculty and staff well-being.

So, the book is about how we can pursue a set of six organizational changes, and I collectively refer to the pursuit of those changes, the achievement of those changes, as the caring university. The ultimate vision that I’m hoping to share through the book is that there’s a different way of structuring working conditions and cultures that better demonstrates care for employees in higher ed.

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