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K-State Today

July 12, 2022

HERS Leadership Institute provides transformational experience for Khosla, Launius

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Reena Khosla and Christie Launius

Kansas State University's Reena Khosla and Christie Launius have completed a prestigious, select leadership program and will use the knowledge and skills they gained to benefit the university.

Khosla, associate director of data warehouse design and development in the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, and Launius, associate professor and associate head of the social transformation studies department, both attended the 2022 Higher Education Resource Services, or HERS, Leadership Institute, June 7-16, in Denver. HERS is a leadership development and research organization dedicated to women in higher education. The university has supported faculty attending the institute for many years.

The Division of Information Technology supported Khosla's participation at the institute, while the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President supported Launius' participation.

Khosla wanted to attend the institute to hone her skills in inclusive leadership and effective change management.

"At K-State, we are working toward developing our data maturity and moving to data democratization," Khosla said. "Inclusivity and change management are imperative in creating a data-informed culture, promoting data literacy and breaking down data silos on our campus. I strongly believe in deploying institutional data in furthering our mission by better serving our students and employees with data-informed decisions."

Khosla went into the institute with ideas on how to use institutional data to further K-State's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategic Plan. She said her experience at HERS helped mature some of those ideas.

"I learned the importance of and emerging practice at other universities on disaggregating race/ethnicity data and centrally collecting additional data, e.g., personal pronouns, gender identities, sexual orientation, etc.," Khosla said. "Our students have unique experiences and challenges, so knowing more about them helps us better serve them. The university can't effectively manage or evaluate what it can't measure, so I would like to start the conversation at K-State around inclusive data collection practices."

Launius wanted to attend the institute to develop more collaborative leadership skills and gain ideas to help with charting the future course of the newly formed social transformation studies department, created by the merger of the gender, women and sexuality studies department with the American ethnic studies department.

"The HERS Leadership Institute was enormously valuable in that regard," Launius said. "I was able to network with people who had experience navigating similar situations, and their perspectives, support and advice were very helpful."

Launius also appreciated that the institute offered sessions on inclusive communication, building an equity-minded, collaborative and cohesive team, and managing change in turbulent times — all of which will be helpful in her current leadership role on campus.

"The leadership institute gave me the space to reflect on my leadership style and provided me with tools to become a more effective higher education leader in an environment that can be characterized by the acronym VUCA, which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous," Launius said.

Both Khosla and Launius say the institute experience was a transformational one.

"Interacting with other women leaders in higher education in a live-in community provided unique perspectives," Khosla said. "All the sessions were steered by women leaders in different roles in higher education. It was inspiring to see other women in such roles as university president, provost, etc., talking about their challenges and leadership journeys."

"I made invaluable connections with the HERS staff, session facilitators and my fellow attendees that will inspire and serve me for many years to come," Launius said. "I look forward to implementing my new knowledge and skills here at K-State."