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Archive for November, 2013

Navy-LogoThere’s nothing like humor when it comes to university presidents.   One humorous story comes from the U.S. Naval Academy where the equivalent of the college president is the Superintendent who is is always an admiral in the Navy.  John Feinstein, sports columnist for the Washington Post, recounted a great story.

This story is set in 2002 when Vice Admiral John R. Ryan served as the academy’s superintendent.  It seems at the time that the Navy football team had not won a single football game the previous season and was looking for a new football coach.

An up and coming coach, Paul Johnson, interviewed for the head football at Navy.    Johnson, known for his innovative and highly effective triple option flexbone offense, was never short on self-confidence.  During Johnson’s interview for the head football coach position, negotiations between Johnson and Admiral Ryan had begun to stall.

“What it’s going to take, Coach?” Ryan asked when negotiations stalled. “What do I have to pay you to get you to coach my football team.”

Johnson gave Ryan a number and the Admiral was stunned.

“Young man,” he said. “I’m a three-star admiral in the United States Navy and I don’t make anywhere close to that kind of money.”

Johnson replied:

“Well, Admiral, I guess you got into the wrong business.”

Admiral Ryan paid Johnson the money, and Johnson went on to become one of Navy’s greatest football coaches.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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see what we can doCarol J. Pardun, professor and director of the school of journalism at the University of South Carolina, recently posted an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Why I Am Dropping Out of Administration”. She tells a common story about goals and aspirations as a successful university administrator, and about a second wind back as a scholar on the faculty.

What struck me in particular about Dr. Pardun’s post, was her list of eight reasons why she became disillusioned with university administration. One quote caught my eye:

Leading faculty members is not at all like running a business. It’s about creating an atmosphere that allows faculty members to accomplish their goals and dreams. Some administrators fail to understand that.

I agree 100%.    The successful university leader must realize that their primary job is about creating a productive culture where individual faculty members are enabled to be successful.   If we can do two things:

  1. hire faculty that are a good fit with the goals of the college and university, and
  2. create an environment where these faculty members are first valued and then secondly encouraged to collaborate,

then …… good things will happen.     Thank you Dr. Pardun.  Good luck with your second career.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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