Develop distributed leadership
This page was developed by Laura Reed (University of Alabama) and Randal Abler (Georgia Tech University).
CUREs tend to be initiated by one or a few champions at their institution. Over time, leadership should become distributed so that the CURE is not disrupted by the loss of a single person due to burn out, retirement, relocation, and the like. Distributing the responsibility so a team is functioning as leadership can offer social support to the leaders in their work, improve the ideas with more brains available for problem-solving, and lighten the work load on any single individual.
Assemble leadership teams
Leading a CURE initiative is a tremendous amount of work that places a heavy burden on a single individual championing a CURE over a long time. While many CURE initiatives begin this way, it is risky to rely on a single individual leader in the long term. A single leader may experience burnout or leave the institution for any number of reasons, which may place the CURE initiative at risk if no one else is able to step into that role.
Leading a CURE involves a wide variety of tasks that require various skills. A diverse team with expertise in different areas is well-suited to this. Critical functions of a CURE leadership team may include: assessing programmatic outcomes, leading faculty professional development, guiding the science of the project, developing and maintaining infrastructure, curriculum development, fundraising and grant writing, publication writing, and more. It is a tall order to expect one individual to be able to carry out all of these tasks well. Team leadership allows individuals to take on tasks that align well with their skills, expertise, and interests. Teams are also able to capitalize on the diverse strengths of their members.
Having a long-term strategy for growth and leadership succession is critical for ensuring the long-term sustainability of a CURE initiative. It is important to have a formalized plan for leadership succession. Having leadership turnover can help keep ideas fresh by bringing in new minds and perspectives. However, if leadership turnover occurs too frequently or new leaders are not sufficiently prepared, turnover can threaten the stability of the CURE. It is important to think about how experienced leaders will mentor incoming leaders so that institutional knowledge necessary for keeping the program running is maintained.
It can be helpful to establish growth benchmarks or milestones for the leadership team. For example, as programs grow, the administrative burden increases, although not always incrementally. It can be helpful to set goals to hire additional team leaders or administrators when the program grows to a certain size or reaches certain benchmarks or milestones.