Associate Dean and Professor
Dear SOLES Alumni and Friends,
On January 1, 2012 I followed my colleague Steve Gelb into the position of Associate Dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. As any of my students will tell you, I have a healthy distrust of bureaucratic processes and no shortage of animosity toward what I view as unnecessary administrivia. So why would someone like me seek to serve in a role that some might describe as the chief bureaucrat of our school? As my predecessor noted in the last issue of this newsletter, “The role of associate dean isn’t glamorous.”
I believe that leadership begins with a choice-- a willingness to step forward and be accountable to others in service to common goals and objectives. Not everyone is willing to take on the dangerous job of representing the dreams of others. Those who have taken Dr. Terri Monroe’s course know that we have ambiguous feelings about authority figures. We want and need them, yet often resent them as well. It is so easy to disappoint and become the target for the many frustrations that exist in modern organizational life. After twenty-seven years of holding authoritative positions in the military I admittedly relished my rank and file identity as an associate professor where I was accountable only for my own actions. I love being in the classroom but since leadership is the topic that I enjoy studying it seemed increasingly hypocritical to turn away from managerial roles and responsibilities. I have always respected most those who have the courage and temerity to confront the uncertainties and try to make a positive difference.
From a selfish standpoint the position has at least one great benefit. It is an opportunity to learn a great deal about the operation of higher education institutions. In the short time I’ve been in the dean’s suite I have been exposed to a long list of issues and functions about which I would otherwise have been blissfully ignorant including: grants, contracts, means of handling misconduct, finances, accreditation, institutional review, and affiliations. Every day is an opportunity to learn more about what goes on behind the curtain. Faculty and students have the ability to focus on teaching, learning, and research because hard working staff members and administrators tirelessly labor behind the scenes to make it all happen. The opportunity to learn and the call to make a positive impact to an organization that matters is for me a powerful source of motivation.
As you can imagine, I left the comfort of my academic home in the Department of Leadership Studies with some trepidation. I am very aware that this role cannot be executed in a way that will please everyone. As soon as Dean Cordeiro announced that I would be serving in this capacity I experienced a most heartening outpouring of support from my colleagues, alumni, and students, I am particularly grateful for the trust and confidence that Dean Cordeiro has reposed in me. I will rely on those sentiments as a source of energy and a constant reminder of those that I serve.
The School of Leadership and Education Sciences is a remarkable place to live, learn and work. It is full of caring and dedicated professionals who make this world a better place. Our school is on a wonderful trajectory as we are increasingly viewed as a center of excellence for a wide range of academic and community service programs. It is a great gift to labor on something you care about with people you value and respect. For that I am truly grateful.