Islamabad (Muhammad Yasir) The USAID’s Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) conducted a two-day training titled ‘Advancing Leadership Capacities of Deans’ for public sector universities. HESSA is being implemented in collaboration with 16 Pakistani universities with a focus on strengthening universities’ capacity to deliver market-driven education and research to enhance graduate employability.

The inaugural session was attended by USAID’s Director of Education Office, Ms. Anne Flaker, USAID’s Senior Education Advisor, Ms. Asima Rehman and Executive Director of Higher Education Commission, Dr. Shaista Sohail. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Shaista stressed the importance of continued investment in higher education and appreciated USAID’s commitment to Pakistan’s economic growth. She said, “To improve the quality of all the service sectors and government departments across Pakistan, we need to invest more in the education sector and particularly the higher education. By strengthening our higher education system, we can build a cadre of expertise and leadership in the all the relevant areas.”

To effectively lead the various departments, university Deans must possess a variety of skills including excellent critical thinking ability to understand the needs of their institution, faculty, and students and find practical solutions, particularly for resource mobilization, visioning, and fundraising activities. The Deans also require strong interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills to interact with all members of the institution effectively.

This training, facilitated by international experts from the University of Utah and the University of Alabama, empowered the Deans to lead the long-term transformation of their universities by providing a sustainable pathway for change through implementing latest knowledge and theories of change. Furthermore, this 2-day training will be followed by online sessions where Deans will develop strategic plans for improvement of student success and linking outcomes with their university specific mission and values.

HESSA is a five-year, $19 million, USAID-funded program that seeks to improve public universities’ capacity, relevance, adequacy, and inclusivity by engaging a wide array of stakeholders to introduce sustainable higher education reforms in Pakistan. In addition to working with universities on international best practices in teaching, research, and governance, HESSA also seeks to enhance the support services available to students on campus.