Rising to the Challenge
Welcome to practical leadership lessons in Academia. This blog will describe some practical observations of leadership in today’s academic environment. I am not an expert on the subject but a perpetual student. I started my academic leadership education in second grade when my father became a professor of education. Shortly after that, he moved into the role of department chair leading a department of 40 faculty for 25 years in the State of Washington. Along with serving in his leadership role, he also taught education administration to teachers who were seeking credentials to become principals and superintendents. My mom raised five children, supported my dad’s career and taught piano lessons for years before returning to teach middle school English. Needless to say, discussions at the dinner table centered around educators and education. We talked about who was doing student teaching or in their first year of teaching, who was going to be the next superintendent at various school districts around the state, what faculty were doing in my dad’s department, how the principal at my mom’s school interacted with the teachers and parents. Of course, we also talked about the usual things including how the sports teams we were playing on were doing and the fact that one of my brothers hated green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes so once he separated them out of the main dish he was left with plain hamburger. I digress…
Growing up I had no idea I would become a professor and follow in my dad’s footsteps. It was difficult to make a decision about my major and career path. After trying chemical engineering and education, I finally settled on electrical engineering — having no idea where it would lead me. I got married when I graduated and my husband was a year behind me so I got my master’s degree while he finished his senior year. After working at Hewlett-Packard for two years, I realized that I was missing something. My husband and I went back to graduate school and I found my calling in academia — they are my peeps!
I’ve spent 23 years in academia at this point – not counting my years in training. I am so lucky to work with young people, to have opportunities to innovate on a daily basis, and to partner with faculty, industry, government and many other people from various entities. I can’t think of a time in history when leadership in academia has been more critical than now. With the corporatization of universities, risk adversity of academic institutions, and the opportunity for universities to impact the economic prosperity of the nation, innovative, creative, and high integrity leadership grounded in fundamental values is more important then ever. This blog will touch on various aspects of academic leadership including the good, the bad and the bazaar. It is meant to be a celebration of one of the greatest institutions in the United States: higher education. I am so thankful to be a part of an amazing network of universities, researchers, educators and leaders.
The observations, thoughts and ideas in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the university.