Friday, September 13, 2013

New Leadership in Higher Ed?

I'd  like to share this article from my friend, Helen Norris, associate chief information officer at California State University, Sacramento. The new president of the University of California system, Janet Napolitano, is a lawyer-turned-administrator—not an academic. Is this the start of a new trend? Will we will see more leaders like Napolitano in higher education?

New Leadership in Higher Ed?
Council on Library and Information Resources

In late July, the Regents of the University of California nominated and confirmed Janet Napolitano to lead the university system. This is simply stunning. To say that she’s non-traditional is an understatement. Most university leaders are scholars-turned-administrators. She is a lawyer-turned-administrator. She has no background in academia (although I understand her father was an academic) and no Ph.D. She has a highly political background, complete with baggage. She certainly has experience running large bureaucratic organizations. I can’t imagine how tough it is to run the State of Arizona or Homeland Security. And perhaps the challenges of running a university will seem less daunting than, say, running the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber.

My theory is that this is the beginning of a trend and that we will see more leaders like Napolitano in universities. This begs some interesting questions. Why the move in this direction? How will leaders like this do? And as leaders in universities, how can we support these new colleagues to help ensure their success?
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  1. Hi -- Jim Bruce pointed us toward your L-M-D blog which was very good.

    Secretary/president Napolitano might make it a trend, but former IN Governor Mitch Daniels beat her to the punch. He's been Purdue's President since January 2013. He too has a J.D. and much political experience with no background in academia. In fact, some of his actions as Governor were viewed as hostile to some in Higher Ed (the "baggage").

  2. Hi Jim! Thanks for your comment, and welcome to the Coaching Buttons blog. I tend to write new posts on Mondays, but starting in January I intend to write more often.

    I hadn't heard about Daniels. I tried doing some searches to see how he's fared since his move to higher ed, but I've only located some topical news stories. Nothing to indicate his trend. How has he done as president?


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