Mark William Roche
In Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and Culture, Mark Roche changes the terms of the debate about American higher education. A former dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, Roche argues for the importance of an institutional vision, not simply a brand, and while he extols the value of entrepreneurship, he defines it in contrast to the corporate drive toward commercialization and demands for business management models. Using the history of the German university to assess the need for, and implementation of, distinctive visions at American colleges and universities, Roche’s own vision benefits from his deep connection to both systems as well as his experience in the trenches working to realize the special mission of an American Catholic university. Roche makes a significant contribution by delineating means for moving such an institution from vision to implementation.
Roche provides a road map to creating a superb arts and sciences college within a major research university and offers a rich analysis of five principles that have shaped the modern American university: flexibility, competition, incentives, accountability, and community. He notes the challenges and problems that surface with these categories and includes ample illustration of both best practices and personal missteps. The book makes clear that even a compelling intellectual vision must always be linked to its embodiment in rhetoric, support structures, and community. Throughout this unique and appealing contribution to the literature on higher education, Roche avoids polemic and remains optimistic about the ways in which a faculty member serving in administration can make a positive difference.
Realizing the Distinctive University is a must read for academic administrators, faculty members interested in the inner workings of the university, and graduate students and scholars of higher education.
“I can’t think of another book about higher education so astute and persuasive about the importance of an institutional vision, and so clear-sighted about practices that help administrators as they struggle to attain it. Roche comprehensively discusses vision, hiring, advancement, curriculum, and perhaps most importantly, the development of internal processes that support collaboration, efficiency, and achievement.” — Richard Finkelstein, dean of Arts and Sciences, University of Mary Washington
“Mark Roche in his eleven years as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame fulfilled the responsibilities of the office with perception and style, contributing thereby to the significant advancement of the university in research, scholarship, education of students, and reputation. To the benefit of all deans—and other stakeholders in higher education—Roche has written a revealing account of the ins and outs, ups and downs of decanal life. Administrators at other aspiring universities will benefit immensely from following Roche’s decisions, admitted mistakes, revisions, and strategies.” — George Dennis O’Brien, president emeritus, University of Rochester
“Mark Roche has written a splendid book proposing and demonstrating that, in order to flourish, a university must articulate and embody a distinctive vision, drawing on his rich experience at two distinctive and quite different universities: Notre Dame and Ohio State. The reader will gain valuable insights about the role of ‘institutional saga’ in higher education and at universities, in particular.” — Bruce A. Kimball, Ohio State University
“[Roche’s] book is far from the jeremiad that has become common during recent decades; it is an optimistic paean to American higher education’s accomplishments and opportunities. Echoing the arguments he made in such books as Why Choose the Liberal Arts?, he says that offering intellectual challenge amid a fostered sense of community, rather than mere jobs preparation, reaps such rewards as lifelong alumni loyalty.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Roche, former dean of the College of Arts and Letters and the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature and concurrent professor of theology, argues for the importance of an institutional vision in higher education, not simply a brand.” — NDWorks
“Roughly put, how many of the two hundred fifty or so Catholic colleges and universities in the United States are really, substantively Catholic in their curriculum and student life? How many, more precisely, are distinctive, in the two senses Mark William Roche uses this term in his critically important new book: both different from their secular peers and excellent in themselves? . . . For principles and strategies for moving from vision to implementation, read this book.” — Commonweal
“[Roche] draws on his experience as an academic administrator at Notre Dame, where, under his leadership, the quality and quantity of faculty hiring notably increased. This success, Roche emphasizes, is owed equally to a confident acceptance of Notre Dame’s mission to be the leading Catholic university in America . . . and to a smart and pragmatic approach to institutional politics and bureaucratic maneuvering. . . . of interest to ambitious and embattled academic administrators who face the issues Roche confronted as a dean at Notre Dame.” — First Things
" Realizing the Distinctive University is about change, improvement, and leadership in higher education. It provides the reader with the historical background necessary to understand why American education is the way it is and what challenges it faces over the coming decades. Roche is able to make the case that institutions, if they want to flourish in the future, need to be distinctive, with strong identities that set them apart from other institutions and unify the campus around a vision. . . . With the ability to lead change that adapts and evolves institutions becoming a necessary skill for higher education leaders, Realizing the Distinctive University is incredibly useful for anyone serving or hoping to serve as an administrator." — Planning for Higher Education Journal
“[This] book is intended to be a visionary yet highly practical manual of advice for senior academic leaders—deans, provosts, presidents—for how they might seek to lead and improve their own universities. It is, Roche says, ‘about intellectual principles of administration and strategies for moving from vision to implementation.’ . . . Roche movingly describes what I think is one of the central virtues necessary to creating and leading a genuine academic community: ‘To take joy in the success of others is a privileged and often neglected virtue, one that tends to surface only when one has a meaningful sense of collective identity; and the exercise of that virtue as one assumes a leadership position further reinforces one’s identification with the community.”’ — The Cresset
“The former dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and current professor has a lot to say about moving from an institutional vision to implementing the desired concepts. He discusses best practices and strategies, from motivating faculty members to facilitating a sense of community. ‘Vision should drive business plans and business strategies, not vice versa,’ Roche notes.” — Notre Dame Magazine
“While much of the book is about vision, and in particular a vision shaped by the value of the liberal arts, it is no less about generic strategies that can help any institution realize its vision. Every vision must be linked to its embodiment in rhetoric, support structures and community . . . The best practices I introduce along with the personal missteps I discuss can be a source of learning for all kinds of administrators.” —Mark Roche, Inside Higher Ed
“Mark William Roche, longtime dean of arts and letters at Notre Dame, explores how whole universities—and the academic units within them—can and should develop their own individual characters that set them apart from competitors. He notes that too many universities appear identical, describing themselves with ‘vague and indistinguishable rhetoric.’ . . . Thoughtful, personal—and yes, distinctive.” — BizEd Bookshelf
“What Mark Roche offers in his new book, Realizing the Distinctive University, is both personal and profound, reflective and progressive. Current and aspiring administrators, from institutions of all types, will find this book thought-provoking and useful, surpassing in its incisiveness even Rosovky’s (1991) well-worn classic from nearly three decades ago.” — Teachers College Record