After months of brainstorming, writing, rewriting, critiquing, and editing, Anderson University Provost Dr. Marie Morris recently authored chapters to two books focusing on leadership and Christian higher education.
The first book Morris contributed to is called Soul Care, which was published in 2012 and discusses the integration of faith and administration.
“The editors of Soul Care were two colleagues of mine, and I wrote a chapter entitled ‘Evaluation of Faculty Performance and Fit: Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly with God,’ highlighting the commands of Micah 6:8,” said Morris.
More specifically, her chapter highlights the common struggles with faith that administrators or leaders might encounter. “Too often as administrators we are tempted to focus only on the institution — the ‘common good’ principle — at the expense of the individual,” said Morris in Soul Care. “When we balance care for the individual and the institution, God’s creative potential may be realized for all, creating a vibrant learning community, which is after all our ultimate goal.”
Having one book already in the works, Morris was asked to contribute to another for her colleague and friend, Karen Longman, who serves as the program director and professor of doctoral higher education at Azusa Pacific University in California.
“I met Karen around 1996 at a Christian colleges and universities conference,” said Morris. “In 1998, I participated as a leadership fellow in the Women’s Leadership Development Institute in Cedar Springs, Washington. Karen was one of the primary resource leaders.”
This second book is called Thriving in Leadership: Strategies for Making a Difference in Christian Higher Education. Morris’ chapter is called “Metaphors Matter: Organizational Culture Shaped by Image.” The book’s other chapters were written by 15 authors in higher education and were edited and compiled by Longman.
“We were very pleased to have Dr. Morris author a chapter in Thriving in Leadership, given the respect that her leadership holds across Christian higher education,” said Longman. “All the authors speak honestly about the successes, failures, and demands that have shaped their current leadership decisions and their visions for the future. We wanted to offer fresh perspectives on Christian higher leadership, and these authors could offer insights from their experiences that would be helpful to others.”
Morris’ chapter explains that leaders impact the organizational structure of the environment they lead.
“If, as a leader, I operate by hierarchical and factory metaphors, then the organizational culture might be very ‘top down,’ treating students as widgets and the educational process as simply a mechanized process of building better widgets,” said Morris. “However, if I operate by web and workshop metaphors, I might create a more collaborative environment where the learning process takes on a more organic and mentoring model.”
Morris plans to write more and contribute to other books in the future. “I would like to write more because learning to write well is one of the best ways to organize one’s ideas or thoughts,” said Morris. “I think our learning is most useful, as Lee Shulman said, ‘when we take what we think we know and offer it up as community property, to be tested and improved.’”
Morris has used her two experiences to continue to share her thoughts through writing. She also hopes others will commit to the practice of writing. “My hope for AU students, regardless of their chosen area of study, is to always keep working at improving their writing skills,” said Morris. “We each have a story to tell and important thoughts to share. Our voice is important, and our worlds will be a better place when we can all clearly articulate, communicate, and contribute toward a vibrant and healthy society.”
— Kayla Meid is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts and theatre arts. Meid is an associate of Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.