Vice chancellors of public universities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region face a myriad of challenges that require research-and data-driven decision-making. This paper presents a decision-making model for college and university leadership-The Two-Way Practitioner-Researcher Loop. This scholarship of practice has the twin goals of developing a knowledge base for college and university leadership and improving leadership practice in the university. The scholarship of practice comprises two “loops”. In the practitioner-to-researcher loop, vice chancellors develop practitioner-defined research agenda to be researched internally by Departments of Institutional Research and externally by members of Higher Education research communities. In the researcher-to-practitioner loop, research findings are communicated back to vice chancellors for immediate application to institutional planning, policy formulation, and decision making. This scholarship of practice develops a knowledge base comprised of both “knowledge for practice” and “knowledge in practice” at the level of university leadership. To build capacity for vice chancellors to craft research agenda and questions emanating from their “knowledge in practice”, we identify internal mechanisms and external associations, training programmes and other forums that provide leadership development and support for these university executives.
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