Leadership in Continuing Education: Leveraging Student-Centred Narratives

  • Marilyn Miller University of Regina
  • Judith Plessis University of British Columbia


For this study, we interviewed eight Canadian and American continuing education deans and directors to explore how their personal accounts or “stories” about leadership high- light the dynamic nature of their leadership roles. This article focuses on the potential impact of these stories to better integrate and serve the adult learner within the higher education environment. Four major themes emerged from our analysis of the data: the non-traditional career trajectories of the leaders; marginalization and identity; lead- ership and innovation; and alignment and resistance.

Our study suggests that continuing education leaders generally excel in sharing student-centered narratives and in pushing boundaries—in part to convince diverse stakeholders of the importance of the field of continuing education. Interviews with participants indicate that continuing educa- tion leaders think in interdisciplinary terms and weave a master narrative about life- long learning, combining several individual threads. Continuing education leaders strive to have conversations leading to collaborative partnerships and educational innovation.