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This paper examines the initiation and implementation of a broad-based outreach program at Michigan State University (MSU), focusing on faculty and staff reaction to the program. The MSU program involved the reconceptualization of university outreach, defining it as a form of scholarship that cuts across teaching, research, and service and is relevant to the full spectrum of university disciplines. The paper explores the interpretation and meaning given to outreach by faculty who are being asked to make outreach an integral part of their scholarship, comparing how faculty make sense of outreach with how administrators perceive that faculty make sense of outreach. It also describes the "outreach culture" in two organizations at MSU, the MSU Extension program and the Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. The paper concludes by discussing five lessons learned from the implementation of the MSU outreach program: (1) a gradually unfolding innovation may hinder adoption; (2) there are unique advantages to using "insiders" to study the implementation process; (3) decentralized diffusion may be preferable to centralized change initiatives; (4) external diffusion need not wait for intraorganizational diffusion to occur; and (5) potential adopters who reject innovations are typically viewed as irrational by agencies of change but not by themselves. (MDM)

Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes, Change Agents, Change Strategies, Educational Attitudes, Educational Change, Educational Innovation, Higher Education, Outreach Programs, Program Descriptions, Program Implementation, Semantics, State Universities, Teacher Attitudes

Autor: Fear, Frank; And Others


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