USAID conducts training for departments’ heads of educational institutions under HESSA initiative

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Zubair Qureshi

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) organized two-day trainings on strategic planning for department chairs of public sector universities.

The trainings were held in three batches for a total of 45 heads of departments from 15 higher education institutes (HEIs) that have partnered with the USAID’s HESSA to strengthen capacity of developing and delivering market-driven education and research to enhance graduate employability. These trainings were hosted by the partner Pakistani universities at their campuses. The first batch was hosted by IBA while the second and third groups were convened at NUST Islamabad. Facilitated by international experts Prof. Mike Barber and Prof. Stacy Harwood from University of Utah, Prof. Delores Robinson from University of Alabama, and Prof. Sajjad Ahmad from University of Nevada, the participants during the training sessions learned how to prepare strategic plans for their respective departments and developed mission and vision statements and core values for their departments. Building on lessons learned from the initial May 2022 training session organized for the same group, the training continued to improve skills necessary to be a successful Department Chair with a strong visionary approach to long-term sustainable improvement in faculty and student success.

The participants in each group also worked on developing goals and performance indicators to measure success. Using case studies and role-playing, they learned about managing faculty, employee, and student conflicts, time management, and improving department culture. Furthermore, this extended training will be complemented by virtual forums and a study tour to the U.S. in 2023. HESSA’s implementation strategy seeks to develop a train the trainer concept to support the improvement of university administration that wish to expand beyond their departmental boundaries and facilitate transformation across their respective universities.

HESSA is a five-year, $19 million, USAID-funded programme that aims to introduce sustainable higher education reforms and work with Pakistani universities on international best practices in teaching, research, student support, and governance.