Leadership Academies Close out Year with Successes

After an eventful 12 months for participants in both programs, the 2017–2018 Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) and Senior Leadership Academy (SLA) closed with seminars that examined important issues confronting campus leaders and celebrated professional advancements. The yearlong programs provide campus leaders with opportunities to reflect, gain insights, and forge networks that can help them advance to the next level of college and university administration or take on new responsibilities in their current positions. Co-sponsored by CIC, the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), ELA’s closing seminar took place in Washington, DC, June 18–20. SLA, co-sponsored by CIC and AALI, held its closing seminar in Washington June 21–23. AALI President Linda Bleicken directs both programs.

ELA Explores Presidential Leadership, Crisis Management, and Presidential Identity

Session leaders at the closing seminar for the ELA, which prepares vice presidents for presidencies and chancellorships, addressed a wide range of topics that included the presidential search process, the transition from cabinet officer to president, presidential communication in a crisis, and how to think and work institutionally.

With his compelling biography forming the backdrop for his thoughts on presidential leadership, George Ross, president of Central Michigan University, opened the seminar. Ross is the son of a Mississippi sharecropper, one of 12 children, and the only one in his immediate family to complete either high school or college. He outlined the major challenges facing campus leaders: enrollment, student persistence, and public skepticism about the value of higher education. Of his many accomplishments as president, he said, “It was the team. A university president achieves nothing alone.” He emphasized that a president must tell the truth and “always do the right thing,” and he closed by enjoining participants to “lead with a sense of urgency and embrace change.”

In an interactive, information-packed session, Teresa Valerio Parrot, principal at TVP Communications, helped participants understand the key principles of presidential communication in a crisis. “Know that it is impossible to communicate an institution out of a leadership void. Leadership is your job, not mine,” she said. “What I need is for you to make the tough decisions. Once you make a decision, then I have something to defend.”

Parrot discussed a number of key principles for crisis communication. The president’s goals are to control the message and flow of information, protect the institution’s image and reputation, and be open, accountable, and accessible. The leadership team must speak with one voice and from a clear set of talking points. She added that presidents should watch for reactions among key stakeholders, respond appropriately for the audience being addressed, and strategically engage social media. “A president must lead with genuine care, compassion, and concern, as well as with the appropriate levels of emotion and leadership expressed. Sincerity is the ultimate litmus test,” Parrot concluded.

“We tell our children not to care what other people think of us, but the truth is that people’s impression of you matters a great deal,” said presenter Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College (SC). A president’s “brand” is “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Artis, an alumna of a historically black college and the daughter of a West Virginia coalminer, grew up in the “Reagan 80s,” a time when resources for education were shrinking. “Knowing what experience has brought you to this place is important. What you know and how you know it are important to people,” she told participants. “Be accurate and honest in the development of your brand, and be authentic in your communication of your brand. If you have a limitation, own it,” she advised.

During the final seminar, ELA participants congratulated several of their colleagues on new appointments: Matthew Giordano as interim president of Villa Maria College (NY), where he had served as vice president for academic affairs; Sarah Kottich as executive vice president for operations and planning at the College of Saint Mary (NE), where she had served as vice president for finance and administration; and Hannelore Rodriguez-Farrar as presidential chief of staff at Colgate University. She formerly served as vice president for public affairs and university relations at Dominican University of California.

The 2018–2019 Executive Leadership Academy is in progress. View information about the 2019–2020 ELA nomination process.

SLA Focuses on Issues of Diversity and Inclusion, Strategic Planning, and Institutional Fit

The SLA helps prepare mid-level administrators at CIC member institutions for cabinet-level positions, and the closing SLA seminar included sessions on a variety of key aspects of the senior administrator’s work, such as strategic planning for transformational change and building a high-performing team.

A president’s job is “to absorb chaos and project calm,” said Tom Botzman, president of Misericordia University (PA), as he discussed strategic planning. “Think about the real and perceived capacity of the institution to change. Think about the people who have to get things done,” Botzman urged the SLA participants. He took a distinctive approach to each of the standard components of the strategic planning process, including use of the traditional SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) analysis. He emphasized that this analysis “should be a little messy” to be truly useful because the external and internal forces at work are never clear-cut for any institution. Still, a good analysis can produce consensus around problem areas while pointing to ways in which the institution can leverage its strengths and opportunities. Once the strategic plan is written, he advised, “Stick with your story and use the same language.” As with the crew of an airplane, so with campus leadership: “It’s really important to focus when landing.”

During the 2017–2018 SLA opening seminar at the 2017 Institute for Chief Academic Officers, participants were inspired by University of Southern California professor and racial equity expert Shaun Harper’s keynote presentation—so much so that they organized a working group on diversity and inclusion. In a highly interactive and intensive session this June, the group’s leaders summarized the discussions their subgroups shared and their main “takeaways” from the books they read together, including Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Jennine Capó Crucet’s Make Your Home Among Strangers, and White Out: Understanding White Privilege and Dominance in the Modern Age, by Christopher Collins and Alexander Jun. The SLA participants also gathered in small groups for lively discussion of questions related to the presentations: What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in leading change related to diversity and inclusion? What additional resources would you suggest to your SLA peers? “I believe that we are better as a cohort because of these conversations and our ability to engage around the topic” of diversity and inclusion, remarked Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, dean of students at Spelman College (GA).

The role of the fit between an institution and an individual is a frequent topic of conversation in SLA sessions. Katie Conboy, provost of Simmons University (MA), examined several aspects of that relationship for authentic leadership. Good fit, she said, occurs when one’s particular gift meets a particular institutional need; when one is supportive of the existing institutional culture; and when one has the attitude, temperament, and understanding of what the institution represents. Alternatively, when considering a new position, SLA participants should weigh the relative importance of fit versus the ability to make change in each position. She asked, “Is a good fit too comfortable? Does it mean that you will not be amenable to needed change?” She said that sometimes a new place and new ways of doing things can be delightful, encourage personal growth, and provide opportunities for learning.

Recent advancements of SLA alumni include: Kathleen Dougherty, formerly dean of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education at Mount Mary University (WI) and now vice president for academic affairs at Alma College (MI); Tamara Floyd-Smith, formerly interim assistant provost and now associate provost at Tuskegee University (AL); Meredith Goldsmith, previously special assistant to the president and now associate dean for academic affairs at Ursinus College (PA); Michael Hammond, formerly associate provost and now provost at Taylor University (IN); Karen Hunt, formerly executive director of admission at Wittenberg University (OH), now vice president for enrollment and student success at Bethany College (WV); Kathryn LaFontana, previously associate vice president for academic affairs at the College of New Rochelle (NY), now vice president for academic affairs at Ursuline College (OH); Michael Laney, formerly dean of arts and sciences at Our Lady of the Lake University (TX), now provost and vice president for academic affairs at Savannah State University; and Ryan Neal, previously academic dean and now provost at Anderson University (SC).

The 2018–2019 Senior Leadership Academy is in progress. View information about the 2019–2020 SLA nomination process.

2017–2018 Executive Leadership Academy Participants

(as of time of acceptance)

Brevard College (NC)
R. Scott Sheffield
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty

Bryn Athyn College (PA)
Allen Bedford
Dean of Academics and Chief Academic Officer

College of Saint Mary (NE)
Sarah Kottich
Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services

College of the Ozarks (MO)
Eric Bolger
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College

Cornerstone University (MI)
Gerald Longjohn
Vice President for Student Development

Culver-Stockton College (MO)
William Sheehan
Vice President for InstitutionalAdvancement and Alumni Programs
Dominican University of California
Hannelore Rodriguez-Farrar
Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations

East Texas Baptist University
Thomas Sanders
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Goucher College (MD)
Bryan Coker
Vice President and Dean of Students

Hollins University (VA)
Patricia Hammer
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Huston-Tillotson University (TX)
Wayne Knox
Chief of Staff and Clerk of the Board

Lewis & Clark College (OR)
Anna Gonzalez
Dean of Students
Nichols College (MA)
William Pieczynski
Vice President for Advancement

Point Loma Nazarene University (CA)
Kerry Fulcher
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Randolph College (VA)
Carl Girelli
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
John Pyle
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Simmons University (MA)
John Dolan
Vice President for Enrollment Management

Springfield College (MA)
Calvin Hill
Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement

University of Bridgeport (CT)
Tarek Sobh
Senior Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean, School of Engineering

University of Providence (MT)
Julie Edstrom
Vice President for Enrollment Management

University of the Southwest (NM)
Larry Guerrero
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Villa Maria College (NY)
Matthew Giordano
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Walsh University (OH)
Douglas Palmer
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Wiley College (TX)
Charles Smith
Senior Executive Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

2017–2018 CIC Senior Leadership Academy Participants

(as of time of acceptance)

Albion College (MI)
John Woell
Associate Provost

Alderson Broaddus University (WV)
Andrea Bucklew
Associate Provost

Allegheny College (PA)
Eric Boynton
Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Anderson University (SC)
Ryan Neal
Associate Provost

Augsburg College (MN)
Catherine Bishop
Director of Assessment

Augustana University (SD)
Mitchell Kinsinger
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs

Austin College (TX)
Karla McCain
Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Chemistry

Biola University (CA)
Jamie Whitaker Campbell
Associate Dean

Carlow University (PA)
Allyson Lowe
Dean, College of Leadership and Social Change

Carson-Newman University (TN)
Jeremy Buckner

Centenary University (NJ)
Amy D’Olivo
Associate Provost and Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Sociology

College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ)
Bartolo Santamaria
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

College of Saint Mary (NE)
Veronica Petak
Associate Dean of Students

Colorado College
Rochelle Mason
Senior Associate Dean of Students

Connecticut College
David Canton
Professor of History

Dominican University (IL)
Victoria Spivak
Director of Financial Aid

D’Youville College (NY)
Maureen Finney
Dean, School of Health Professions

Florida Memorial University
Keshia Abraham
Dean of Arts and Sciences

George Fox University (OR)
Laura Hartley
Dean of Arts and Sciences

Gordon College (MA)
Jewerl Maxwell
Dean of Academic Initiatives and Global Education

Grinnell College (IA)
Shanna Benjamin
Associate Dean of the College

Guilford College (NC)
Barbara Lawrence
Associate Academic Dean

Marian University (IN)
Saib Othman
Association Provost for Academic Affairs
Messiah College (PA)
Caroline Maurer

Mount Ida College (MA)
Brad Hastings
Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities

Our Lady of the Lake University (TX)
Michael Laney
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Presbyterian College (SC)
Judith Askew
Dean of Academic Programs

Rhodes College (TN)
Michelle Mattson
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Roanoke College (VA)
Valerie Banschbach
Chair of the Environmental Studies Program and Professor of Environmental Studies

Roger Williams University (RI)
Robert Shea
Associate Provost

Sewanee: The University of the
South (TN)
Elizabeth Skomp
Associate Dean of the College and Professor of Russian

Simmons University (MA)
Catherine Paden
Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Spelman College (GA)
Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
Dean of Students

St. Mary’s University (TX)
Megan Mustain
Interim Dean, Graduate Studies

Taylor University (IN)
Michael Hammond
Academic Dean

Tuskegee University (AL)
Tamara Floyd-Smith
Interim Assistant Provost

University of Redlands (CA)
Kendrick Brown
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

University of Saint Francis (IN)
Lance Richey
Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University of Saint Joseph (CT)
Diana Sousa
Director of Marketing and Communications

Ursinus College (PA)
Meredith Goldsmith
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs

Viterbo University (WI)
Timothy Schorr
Dean, College of Arts and Letters

Westminster College (PA)
Jamie McMinn
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Whittier College (CA)
Gil Gonzalez
Associate Dean of First Year Experiences

Wittenberg University (OH)
Karen Hunt
Executive Director of Admission

Wofford College (SC)
Mary Beth Knight
Director of Foundation, Corporate, and Government Relations