This paper explored collaborative, transformative leadership to establish what to do and why by the respective institutional stakeholders to reimagine the first-year university students’ reading culture. The exploration is critical because it transforms lecturers’ perception of teaching and learning and general attitude to duty, improving students’ performance throughout their studies and beyond. Previously, from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, the culture of reading played a prominent role in students’ academic performance. Nevertheless, from the 1990s till date, many students’ interest in reading dwindled. Perhaps this is because of the emergent electronic materials, dynamic economic shifts, and other disruptive global events posed by students’ ‘political’ scrambles for power, the COVID-19 pandemic, and examination malpractices. Therefore, there is a need for a new form of leadership to confront these unconventional disruptions through critical and reflective thoughts born of action that fosters a renewed student culture of reading focused on the first years at Central University of Technology, Free State. The authors adopted a qualitative approach that used a desktop research methodology in the absence of physical research participants. The findings revealed that the first-year students’ reading habits changed after a few months of joining the university, and this benefited institutional management, lecturers, and the CUT teaching and learning. Recommendations urge writers and editors to extend research and publish best book guides on scientific transformative leadership practices, particularly in all facets of reading in education. We encourage universities to incorporate the training of transformative leaders in institutional curricula.
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