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Wearing leadership bi-focals in the post-pandemic university

Devorah Lieberman (University of La Verne, La Verne, California, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 29 November 2022

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023




This paper aims to provide insight for higher education leaders about how to navigate the immediate needs and long-term needs of an institution. COVID-19 disrupted higher education in unprecedented ways, but the post-pandemic world is proving to be just as challenging – if not more so. Presidents and higher education leaders must be nimble, prepared and multi-skilled to address immediate challenges while making the tough strategic decisions to ensure that colleges and universities remain viable and sustainable for generations to come.


This discussion focuses on the dual vision and the leadership skills that are essential in addressing both the short-term and long-term threats to colleges and universities resulting from the COVID pandemic (wearing leadership bi-focals). It analyzes the post-pandemic trends that are adversely impacting the future of higher education and details how the President is guiding her team at the University of La Verne through this generational crisis – a process she describes as wearing leadership bifocals.


What began as a sudden global health crisis has shaken institutions of higher education to their core, challenging some of the very foundations upon which they were built. By adopting a bifocal strategy, the University of La Verne can more clearly assess the challenges it faces in the post-pandemic world and the new opportunities around the corner. While this approach ultimately is a team effort, effective implementation requires leadership from the top. The entire campus community is depending on the President to inspire and lead.

Research limitations/implications

Much has been written about leadership during these troubling times in higher education. This paper is intended hoped to offer a best-practices approach for college and university Presidents in engaging their campus communities in addressing the short- and long-term challenges facing them.


The author’s lengthy experience as a University president and Provost – along with a focus on communication skills – provides a unique framework for addressing the complex challenges confronting higher education.



Lieberman, D. (2023), "Wearing leadership bi-focals in the post-pandemic university", On the Horizon, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 24-29.



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