In this brief and provocative book, community college leaders, especially presidents, are warned that business as usual and a reliance on past achievements are not acceptable in our ‘technology-driven, on-demand, uberized, participant-centric, shared economy.’ And, if community colleges don’t embrace this new reality, they will become less relevant and students will seek their educational and training needs elsewhere. Phelan has brought his 35 years of professional experience, interviews with community college leaders, and command of relevant literature about community colleges to the construction of a framework through which such schools can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. However, what is refreshing is Phelan’s utilization of research and theory about change and innovation from areas outside of higher education, e.g., organization, business…. [I]f one is interested in implementing an institutional strategy to meet present and future challenges raised by technology, demographics, outcome assessments, funding, and competition, Unrelenting Change is an excellent source.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Professionals and practitioners.
— Choice Reviews
Written to appeal to current and future leaders and board of trustee members more than to researchers, Phelan weaves together his extensive leadership experience in different college settings with contemporary leadership and management literature to explore a set of key questions for today’s community colleges. What makes the text so compelling is the way that Phelan digs deeply into the issues and their consequences, and how he constantly examines these through the lenses of change, innovation, and risk. . . .In closing, Phelan pulls together a volume of great examples from colleges across the nation, including those at the forefront and those that struggle to go in new directions. He highlights key leadership and change authors and his own institutional and leadership experiences that will appeal to leaders and those who aspire to lead. Two points he leaves us with are that change and innovation are a way of institutional life; it is time to accept this reality and learn how to address it rather than fear or hide from it. And, as a consummate educator, Phelan challenges us to consider the questions being asked. Perhaps never more relevant than as we look toward the future is the importance of probing questions.
— Community College Journal
Daniel Phelan has done an outstanding job of documenting the current status of community colleges while daring this segment of higher education to forge new pathways to success. Like comfortable house slippers, the status quo is difficult to shed but through strategies such as the SAIL model and examples of adventurous institutional changes, he guides us to a new place of organizational achievement and alignment with the future. Using his seafaring analogy, the author takes the reader on a journey of possibilities with imaginative and practical guideposts for arrival at a different place. It is an informative book for enhancing community college leadership and building stronger teams!
— Jerry Sue Thornton, PhD, president/CEO, DreamCatcher Educational Consulting, president emerita, Cuyahoga Community College (Ohio)
Community colleges are well-positioned to be their community’s “preferred learning provider,” if they are willing to offer programs and courses at times and places convenient to the various constituencies that comprise their community. Dr. Phelan’s message is clear that the “past is no longer the prologue” for our community colleges. He documents well the external realities and forces that necessitate changes in the policies and procedures that characterize the majority of the nation’s community colleges. He also offers solid strategies for surviving and succeeding in this era of unrelenting change, disruptive innovation and risk. The book is a “must read” for community college presidents, trustees and especially those in state and federal government leadership roles.
— John E. Roueche, Executive Director, Roueche Center for Community College Leadership, College of Education, Kansas State University; Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair and Director Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin, 1971-2012
In Unrelenting Change, Disruptive Innovation and Risk: Forging the Next Generation of Community Colleges, Dan Phelan makes the case for leaders to embrace continuous change and presents a model for them to secure necessary buy-in from stakeholders and to guide their institutions through the risks that necessarily accompany innovation. Community colleges are under significant pressure to increase student completion rates, to close achievement gaps, and to respond more effectively to the needs of business and industry in an environment of declining resources, increasing calls for accountability, increased competition for students, fluctuating enrollment, and high percentages of students who are not prepared for college. The colleges that try to get by with business as usual will not succeed. President Phelan’s book is a timely and valuable resource for all who are engaged in today’s community colleges as well as those who are planning a career in this dynamic segment of American higher education.
— George R. Boggs Ph.D, Superintendent/ President Emeritus, Palomar College; President and CEO Emeritus, American Association of Community Colleges; Chair, Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors
Dan Phelan has been there and done that! He knows how to herd change and innovation through institutional pastures. He is a scholar-practitioner who uses theoretical frameworks and practical lessons in this provocative new book to challenge his colleagues to take on the toughest issues in all of higher education. He is a visionary thought leader who uses a delightful sailing metaphor to share his personal journey and who introduces us to a creative model for leading innovation and change he has labeled SAIL. Batten down the hatches for a great ride!
— Terry O’Banion, president emeritus, League for Innovation & chair of the graduate faculty, National American University
At a time in history when community colleges need to be most nimble, your book speaks the truth. We need to change—yesterday.
— Jennifer Lara, professor of education, Anne Arundel Community College
An amazing journey of sailing through the community college seas of change, Dan clearly sets us on a course of action and adventure.
— Richard M. Rhodes Ph.D., president/CEO, Austin Community College District