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Weekly Wisdom Episode 19: Transcript of Conversation With Kim Wilcox, Chancellor of University of California, Riverside

Weekly Wisdom Episode 19: Transcript of Conversation With Kim Wilcox, Chancellor of University of California, Riverside

Note: This interview, Episode 19 of the Weekly Wisdom Series, originally aired on September 28, 2020 as part of the University Innovation Alliance’s Innovating Together podcast, appearing live on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Click here to access our summary, along with helpful links and audio from this episode.

Kim Wilcox:
This is also unique in terms of the impact on the rest of society.  This is not an easy time to be raising tuition, which was a solution in many other budget cuts over the years; simply not a socially-responsible option in this environment where families, struggling as they are, so that makes this different.  

Bridget Burns:
Welcome to Innovating Together, a podcast produced by the University Innovation Alliance.  This is the podcast for busy people in higher education who are looking for the best ideas, inspiration, and leaders to help you improve student success.  I'm your host, Bridget Burns.   

You're about to watch another episode of "Start the Week with Wisdom", which for those of you who are home if you have not seen this before, these are our weekly episodes where we conduct an interview with a sitting college president or chancellor.  And we want to talk to them about how they're navigating the challenge of this moment.  We're in a really unique time.  And we want to focus on their leadership and unpack how they are making decisions, how they are navigating, and hopefully it will leave you with a sense of optimism, a bit inspired, and give you a bit of hope.

Paul Fain:
Hi.  I'm Paul Fain.  I'm a contributing editor at Inside Higher Ed.  This week we're excited to bring you a conversation with the University of California Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox.  Chancellor Wilcox has led the institution since 2013, and he was a founder of the University Innovation Alliance.  And as you may know UCR is one of the few universities in the country where outcomes are equal across race and income, which is definitely a rare feat in higher education.  Chancellor Wilcox, how are you?

Kim Wilcox:
Great.  Great to be here.

Paul Fain:
So to start off, I can't believe it.  It's almost October.  Time is kind of hard to keep track of these days, but I heard from a couple of folks today who feel like starting to settle into a rhythm for this term.  And it's hard to kind of even ask that question because the rhythm is different than it's ever been, but do you feel that way?  Do you feel like you're hitting your stride in a way that things feel normal?

Kim Wilcox:
Yes.  Importantly, Riverside is on the quarter system, so classes started today for us.  So the rhythm is – but your bigger scan is still I think apropos.  Middle of March, when everything went chaotic, there was like just day-to-day, day-to-day, day-to-day.  And even through the rest of the spring, I think most of us found a rhythm.  We had the summer, not just here at Riverside, but in fact, all around the country, to kind of think more deliberately about the fall, whether it was research, support, or course offerings, or whatever it might be.  And I think that's more the rhythm that you were referring to, this kind of planning and organization of an administrative rhythm.

One of the great things about universities is we have a cycle.  We begin the year, we end a year, we have commencement, we have convocation, we have a regular break.  And so I think the rhythm is partly now getting back to that regular cycle.

Bridget Burns:
Kim, I'm curious.  A lot of other campuses have already started, and you got to watch what they went through and perhaps might've benefited from.  Seeing that example, are there any things that you changed or adapted or that you gleaned from others' experience that has informed you coming into the fall term that was really a benefit?

Kim Wilcox:
Mostly what I would say, it was affirmation.  We took a pretty cautious, some would say conservative approach, from the beginning in our planning for the fall.  We had a faculty committee headed by the provost that early on decided some principles for the fall in terms of instruction.  And one was everyone deserves a safe option, which meant that even if you're in a class with 30 students and you're the only student who doesn't want to go to back to face-to-face because you live with a family member who has health concerns or whatever might be, you deserve a safe option. And once you have that as a premise, then pretty much everything has to be at least a remote option.  So we have very few face-to-face classes, but even though it's got the remote option.

What we found as we watched the fall semester unfold across the country was, I think, some of our colleagues weren't cautious enough in their planning.  We did get to learn about testing.  We had a testing plan in place.  We learned even more, to be more focused on potential hotspots.  Undergraduates and aggregate living is clearly a focus and that became clearer and clearer.  So we learned some things, but mostly it was an affirmation.  

Paul Fain:
One of the questions that I think everybody is wrestling with, we all know that these crises have disproportionally impacted Black and Latino students, families from lower income backgrounds.  As an institution that does particularly well with achievement gaps, how concerned are you about some of the most vulnerable students bearing the brunt of this challenging time?

Kim Wilcox:
I'm very concerned.  It's one of the things that is on the top of my list when I talk with most people off campus, particularly policy makers and legislators and the rest.  We've learned a lot in the pandemic.  And one is that the pandemic has amplified inequity, whether that's in healthcare or income or social programs.  And so, with the population on our campus, it's over half Pell-eligible students, over half first-generation students.  

We have a group of students who are already, I don't want to say at risk, but already challenged in ways of support that other students around the country may not be.  And this pandemic, of course, has meant we've had to redouble our efforts on campus through our food pantry and other support programs to do it the best we can, but that's a huge challenge.  And I hope it's one of the messages that lives with us after the pandemic.  I hope that this period of, just so obvious the inequities across the country in higher education and elsewhere, that we as a nation will be better at addressing these realities so that, heaven forbid, in the next pandemic we won't be in the same situation.

Bridget Burns:
That's helpful.  I'm curious about – you've been in the institutional leadership for a very long time, whether it was being provost of Michigan State, whether it was at another campus –

Kim Wilcox:
Yeah, I have my gray hair.

Bridget Burns:
Yeah.

Kim Wilcox:
You can have my driver's license.

Bridget Burns:
Yeah.  So you have a lot of experience with this.  And you've experienced highs and lows in that time, but I'm curious about what it's like to lead now that feels uniquely different as people are trying to figure out how they can – like up is down and down is up – what's it like to lead in this moment?  I'm just curious if you can reflect for us on any differences that you've noticed about how you're figured out what the North Star is or how you inspire people. How are you grappling with that?

Kim Wilcox:
Wow, great question.  I counted up the other day, this is my sixth budget cut.  My first was as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, so I was more the recipient of wisdom and perspective and direction on budgets than the purveyor.  This one is unique.  It may be larger than any I've seen, I'm pretty sure.  It has hit the entire university, and most years, most prior budget cuts, the auxiliary operations were pretty much intact.  We still had students living in residence halls, we still were providing meals to people every day.  This one, that was the first group that got hit.  We emptied our residence halls and closed down most of our dining facilities, maintained as best we could, kept the staff on payroll as long as we could.

So there's a broader hit that falls other times.  This is also unique in terms of the impact on the rest of society.  This is not an easy time to be raising tuition, which was a solution in many other budget cuts over the years; simply not a socially responsible option in this environment with families struggling as they are, so that makes this different. You can take some heart and some discipline, I guess, from past budget cuts.  I think in every one of those past five, in my experience, we never returned to the same level of funding we had before.  So we have to go into this with our eyes wide open.  We can't be naïve about the future of, well, the curriculum will bounce back and state funding will return and everything will be – it has never returned, in my 40 years, I guess now, in higher education.

So that's one piece.  But the other more heartening piece is our university has continued to thrive.  That first budget cut was almost 40 years ago.  And all these universities are bigger and stronger than they were then even.  So the trajectory remains upward.  We have to be pretty honest about how to manage through this.  

I take great heart just watching what's going on on the campus.  Remember, we're an industry of the mind, and you carry your mind around.  Abraham Lincoln had it under his hat.  You carry your mind with you.  And while we're not all together in the same way that we wish we were or we used to be, we still have our minds and we still have the opportunity to bring along students into this collection of scholars and learners.  That's a pretty special thing.  And if you stop and appreciate that, it's hard not to be inspired. 

Paul Fain:
On budgets and a host of issues, I gather you have had some tough decisions to make, and tough decisions to make in a short time frame.  I just wonder in the last few months if the decision-making process for you has changed at all, the way you all do it, the folks you bring in, the speed that you make tough calls.  How different is it than previous times?

Kim Wilcox:
Yeah.  It actually is quite different in that regard.  I'm not a fan of this model, but oftentimes when we see a budget cut, I mean, universities will put together a blue ribbon panel – never a red ribbon panel, always a blue ribbon panel – to advise on the budget strategy.  I have generally been not a proponent of that model.  I've always asked myself why would we, in a time of reduced resources, stop and invest more resources into a process to decide how to reduce resources?  Let's instead rely on our existing strategies and people.  We did that at Riverside.  We have a budget advisory committee that offered recommendations.  And so, of course, in this climate we simply had so many other things going on – how are we going to continue classes, what are we going to do about research – that it almost was impractical to think about a different strategy.

Hindsight being 20/20, I think we learned that that process wasn't quite well-tuned to this task in a pandemic era.  We got input, but we didn't get quite the level and time for analysis that we might've wanted to, so we're working on that now.  We're giving our campus a two-year planning time frame.  We're asking for budget reduction plans that span two years, which will hopefully give everybody a broader frame on their own unit, but also allow us centrally to think about how to bridge across the different timelines across the units.  So yeah, we have refined our thinking as it's gone along, but I joked back in March I yearned for the days of the simple 15-percent budget cut.  So we had the pandemic.  We had calls for defunding the police.  We had a thousand other things that were swirling around us. 

Bridget Burns:
One of the things I always am curious about is, as a leader, how do you make sure that you have all the information that you need to make decisions.  And one of the things I always notice is that really great leaders try to get all of the perspectives, but it's rarely something you can get in a formal meeting, like, you really benefit from those kind of end-of-the-meeting, like, so-and-so is going catch up at the very end and just, you know, put a bug in your ear, or you get a chance in the hallway.  And that kind of information is always really helpful.  And now that we're on Zoom, I'm just curious how do you set yourself up to have the kinds of conversations that will allow you to really kind of know what's going on in people's minds and hearts and "what's the tea," if I may.  Are there any things that you're doing to help you with that?

Kim Wilcox:
Great question.  You're listening.  Even sitting in a meeting, you can see eye checking, who's looking.  Somebody says something and somebody goes, well, oh.  On Zoom everybody is looking at the same screen.  I mean, they may do some side-chatting that you can't see, but there's a social context, a social fabric that's really pretty benign in this set.

I think we, and I'm just saying broadly, not just for Riverside, but we as an industry, we as a society, have tried to account for that a lot with data – let's get the data out, let's share the data – but I was just talking with the provost a moment ago. The data are the data, but you've got to have a conversation about the data and why this makes sense and doesn't make sense relative to the frame of concern that the individual participant has. So the upside – there's always an upside – the upside of Zoom is you can get to things pretty easily.  So I've actually been attending lots of classes that I never would have gotten to in the old days, because I can just click on a button and drop into a class for 5 or 10 minutes.  We send this out, and faculty members invite me.  But I get there and I get to talk to some students.  I let them ask me some questions, make some responses, and so can get a flavor of things that was hard to get in a personal way before.  We're getting better attendance at many of our meetings, particularly student attendance at meetings, than we ever had before, as well.  So you're sitting at home in your bedroom, and you have nothing to do but go and watch TV with mom, so you might as well click on the meeting with the chancellor at 6:30.  So there have been some upsides.

But I feel exactly, to your point, the nature of your question, it's a different kind of social interaction that doesn't have the same kind of – yeah, we get to a meeting, you sit there and look at a screen with two or three other people, and you can do a little chatting, but it's not nearly the same as catch me in the hallway afterward.

Paul Fain:
That's a really interesting conversation point.  Makes me think it'd be a good story for us, but changing gears here.  In speaking beyond Riverside, the issue of low-income students and making sure that they can keep on track: what are some of the interventions you think could make a difference, whether in state or federal policy?  What do we need to be doing now to make sure that something – that you don't have an exodus, frankly, of students who can least afford to leave?

Kim Wilcox:
Yeah.  Lots of parts to your question.  I think we have to – the University of California, certainly UC Riverside and the State of California – have to take some credit for the support systems we have in place.  That's a lot of what our past success has been.  So I'm proud of the fact that the legislature has stood by most of those student-oriented programs, and that's key.  We can't backslide from where we are.  Then it's a matter of kind of redoubling.  A lot of people ask us how we are so successful with students with progression to degrees here at Riverside, and we've got a simple perspective on that.  Generally people readily think of programs – let's put a program in place to do this or to do that.  Programs are important, they serve a key role, but for us it's the third thing on the list. 

The first is the culture.  You have to have a culture that embraces, supports, and is committed to these students and their success, and when I say "these students," I mean the students of your university.  The second key element is having the people who are committed to the culture, and the two are reinforcing, of course.  With that culture, we recruit more and more faculty and leaders who want to be part of this world.  Once you have that platform, a culture and a committed group of people, who want to make sure that all students succeed, then you can start to think about programs.  And the programs that work, of course, for one student generally work for all the students.  And that's kind of the mindset we've brought to this.

We've redoubled, like I said, our targeted programs like food pantry, and we have a special – I was going to a new organizational meeting of students, faculty, and staff who are organizing Highlander Connections to help entering students connect, and they describe themselves as a "vibrant remote community."  And I offer, you know, if this was a year ago and you got invited to a vibrant remote community you'd think of a small artist colony up in the Sierra Nevada, skiing in the winter and tourist in the summer, and that would be a vibrant remote community.  Well, now vibrant remote community means something quite different.  It's thinking about how to connect people in a real, engaging sense through this new medium.  So we're exploring all those pieces, but you've got to have the bases of people and culture that are committed to them.

Bridget Burns:
Yeah.  We're getting comments from "those cultures of people are so important.  It's the foundation of student success."  We also have some questions that have come in.  So someone was asking, now you have a different relationship with athletics, but someone is asking about "the update on the possibility of discontinuing athletics from the budget recommendation after the two-year plan."  Is that a UCR thing or this just something…?

Kim Wilcox:
Yeah.  Yeah.  Our budget advisory committee – I got a lot of feedback from particularly faculty members on campus that we should look at reducing or, maybe, eliminating athletics.  The committee already had one of their principles of prioritizing the academic core.  And so that's a point of discussion right now on the campus, is really the return on investment on athletics, the cost versus the benefits.  I'm not one who wants to close our athletics department, trust me, but we've got to find serious budget savings in this.

Bridget Burns:
That makes total sense.  Completely understand that.

Kim Wilcox:
And as I understand it, there's some other schools having similar conversations, not just as publically.

Bridget Burns:
Yeah.  Of course.

Paul Fain:
I often hesitate to go here, but I feel like we're at a point in the crisis where it maybe doesn't feel wrong to ask.  Is it driving some change that's good, some change that you hoped – you mentioned looking at equity in a different way, and I actually think that there's some hope for that, but what would you like to see stick around that's happened the last few months?

Kim Wilcox:
Well, I talked a little bit about dropping into classes.  I think we will have a different perspective collectively on the blend between face-to-face and distance.  And right away, people think of classes when you think of face-to-face business.  As an industry, we were further ahead on the class side than we were mostly anything else.  Most campuses are full of hybrid courses.  Most campuses have online degrees and all the rest.  We didn't do much of that on the administrative side, and we all know that there are some administrators and supervisors who don't like people to work from home, in part because you can't trust them, they might not be working, when, in fact, the people who aren't working at home were the same people who weren't in the office in many cases.

So I think there's an opportunity for us to think more holistically about this face-to-face and distance stuff, not just in the classroom setting, but across the rest of the university itself, and in our engagement with others across the community.  Just like we have good participating in committee meetings, we do have pretty good participation in public meetings now, too, people who don't want to get dressed up and go into the lecture at 5 o'clock.  Well, now you can put your computer on, and sit, and watch, and enjoy.

So I think that will be part of it.  I think there will be some industry-wide cost savings in terms of infrastructure, in terms of office spaces and the rest that will come from that.  We haven't realized as much on the instructional side for lots of reasons, good and bad, but I think it's going to be an easier piece to do some hot-seating on the administrative side.  

Bridget Burns:
So I'm curious about keeping your eye on the ball.  As a president, as a chancellor, as a provost, in any of these jobs, it feels like folks are just getting hit daily, minute by minute, with more demands – decision fatigue is high.  And I'm just curious about now that you've been leading for a long time, I feel like you've probably figured out a rhythm of how you make it so that you are focused on the big picture and really what you should be focused on, whatever that is, as opposed to the drama of the day or the chaos of the day.  And I'm trying to see if you can give some advice for folks at home, because it feels like the news hits keep coming, and it's really difficult to kind of settle the ball a bit.  And I'm wondering if there's anything that you do personally in your mornings or otherwise that really makes it so that you can have a sense of clarity before you head into your day.

Kim Wilcox:
Oh, tough question, Bridget.  Yeah, it is, like, so many people I'm sure right now, it's a crazy world.  I get up.  I try to work out in the morning, don't always do that, but then you just come down and here you are one floor away in the same building 24/7, weeks on end.  I have seen, well, back to question about rhythms, I've see that rhythm in the people I work with, even though most of it is by Zoom.  The immediate crisis, in March, people were running fanatically.  Then we've settled in a little bit, and then people got tired, people got a little testy with each other, and then recovered a little bit.  We're back to a testy, grumpy period right now, in my estimation.  I spend a lot of time suggesting, advising, recommending – you can't require – people to take time for themselves.  I've tried to do the same, but, again, it's hard, and because of COVID, you can't just get on a plane and go someplace and unwind in the same ways.

I try to, myself, take as much of the weekend as I can, just because I need it.  Like, I'm talking to everybody who's doing the same thing.  You sit here in front of this screen from 7:30 in the morning until 5:30, 6:00 at night, and I am beat.  There's no receptions to go to in the evening, there's no travel.  You'd think I'd be refreshed, but this is a pretty fatiguing piece.  So I spend a lot of my time kind of talking with my colleagues about themselves, kind talking about taking time and making time.  I try to do it myself, and I think I do a pretty good job at it, but there's not enough time in the day to get done what needs to be done and what doesn't.

In terms of the bigger piece, yeah, I scan, of course, Inside Higher Ed every day, but some other media as well.  I try not dig too deep into a lot of it.  The arc of those stories, the COVID rise, or students came back to campus, and the reductions as they develop better testing, I mean, there's kind of arc to that.  You don't need to know what every single school did and how many additional cases they had and how many they got rid of.  You can get mired down in all kinds of details, but to have a sense of what this arc is, to the extent to which it can inform your general trajectory, is how I approach most of the media these days, just because there is so much other and at the same time we've got some pretty major national pieces going on in the same way.  It's the arc that's more important to me.

Bridget Burns:
That's great.  And I just want, before we grab our last question, as you said there's no receptions to go to.  I've been talking with Ed Ray occasionally, just checking on him, since he retired, and he's gotten really skinny.  And he said it's specifically because there's no receptions.  And he's, like, I don't know.  There's no – all he does is eat soup now.  He's just like, I really don't get invited to anything.  And I'm, like, yeah, nobody else is.  Yeah, don't worry.  We're getting COVID fat for other reasons.  

Kim Wilcox:
20 pounds.  20 pounds.

Bridget Burns:
Oh, well, good, you're the opposite.  That's perfect.

Kim Wilcox:
No receptions, no travel, no bad lack of exercise on the plane and all that other stuff.  No.  

Paul Fain:
Well, yeah, I guess a university leader might buck the national trend of the COVID, you know, packing on the pounds.  And you all are different than a lot other folks for a lot of reasons, I think, as a college leader.

Kim Wilcox:
Better looking, you're thinking?

Paul Fain:
Yeah.  Absolutely.  

Kim Wilcox:
Wanted to clarify for everybody listening.

Paul Fain:
Yeah.  Well, to that end you all are very positive.  You have to be believers in higher ed, and you have to really push forward when it's looking hard.  As you mentioned, we may be going into a testy period as a country.  It does feel like that, and it's hard to believe, you know, the summer wasn't that, but as you look ahead and deal with folks across the institution, as you are really struggling with this being a long haul and far from over, what keeps you hopeful and how do you keep pushing ahead, and what are some of the messages that you like to bring to folks to keep them pushing ahead?

Kim Wilcox:
Partly it just, again, this longer trajectory of universities and our university.  But I'm here to tell you it's everybody I talk with.  It's faculty senate leadership, it's the student body leadership, it's students in class.  I live, of course, on campus so I was out.  Residents all move in, and I'm on my bicycle meeting parents and students and custodial workers who are keeping the grounds clean during the move-in, and everybody is doing all they can to make sure that things are as good as they can be – as good as they can be for our university, as good as they can be for the broader community, for their families.  There's an awful lot of great – 

Oh, here's one for you, Bridget.  You know Sam Krasinsky from The Office has some good news on YouTube? Well, our communications office decided that would be my welcome back and message to the students.  So I did some good news, but some good news about the campus.  (It's not out yet.) There's so much good news.  Yeah, it's the bad news catching the headlines, but every one of those people on campus has some good news to tell.  They've done a great job of keeping the place running and moving ahead at a time when most of the, again, most of the broader conversation is about all of our problems, so that's where I get my inspiration.  And Diane, my wife, walks on campus all the time.  She comes back every day with a new story of somebody she ran into, oftentimes at work or on campus, what they're doing, what they've done, what they want to get done.  It's pretty hard not to be inspired.  

Paul Fain:
Absolutely.  Thanks.

Bridget Burns:
Wonderful.  Well, thank you so much, Chancellor Wilcox.  We really appreciate the time that you spent with us today, the wisdom that you've shared with everyone.  And I'm so grateful that – I gave everyone a teaser that they might get a chance to hear your laugh.  And so I'm glad that you actually delivered.

Kim Wilcox:
Oh, did you?  I didn't know somebody told a joke. I missed it –

Bridget Burns:
Your laugh is globally famous, it's the most famous laugh in higher ed, I would say.  

Kim Wilcox:
It's a niche I guess I'll have to take.  

Bridget Burns:
So it's one of the many joys of having meetings with you.  So for folks at home we hope that this has given you a bit of inspiration and perspective to fuel the rest of your week.

Bios of Guest and Co-Hosts

Guest: Kim Wilcox, Chancellor, The University of California, Riverside
Dr. Kim A. Wilcox was appointed U.C. Riverside’s ninth chancellor in August 2013. During his tenure, U.C.R. saw historic growth across its education, research, and public service missions, including record improvements in student success, research funding, and philanthropic giving, as well as new schools of medicine and public policy. Chancellor Wilcox has grown faculty by nearly 25% while increasing its racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. He has guided the university toward becoming a national model for achieving student success, particularly across socioeconomic and ethnic categories. In the past five years, four-year graduation rates have increased by 16%, and six-year rates by 5%. U.C.R. is one of the few institutions nationwide that has eliminated graduation-rate gaps across income levels and ethnicity. Under Chancellor Wilcox’s leadership, U.C.R. became a charter member of the University Innovation Alliance. He has been an active participant on several higher education advisory boards and committees, currently serving on the NCAA Presidential Forum, the board of directors for the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and representing U.C.R. in the Council on Competitiveness. Dr. Wilcox served as provost at Michigan State University from 2005 to 2013, dean of the University of Kansas' College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2002 to 2005, and president and C.E.O. of the Kansas Board of Regents from 1999 to 2002. He also spent ten years as the chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing at the University of Kansas. A first-generation college graduate, Kim Wilcox earned a B.A. in audiology and speech sciences from Michigan State, and master’s and doctoral degrees in speech and hearing science from Purdue University. He has directed teaching, research, and service projects on speech acoustics funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Co-Host: Bridget Burns, Executive Director, University Innovation Alliance
Dr. Bridget Burns is the founding Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA). For the past decade, she has advised university presidents, system chancellors, and state and federal policy leaders on strategies to expand access to higher education, address costs, and promote completion for students of all backgrounds. The UIA was developed during Bridget’s tenure as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship at Arizona State University. She held multiple roles within the Oregon University System, including serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor, where she won the national award for innovation in higher education government relations. She was a National Associate for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and has served on several statewide governing boards including ones governing higher education institutions, financial aid policy, and policy areas impacting children and families.

Co-Host: Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, Inside Higher Ed
Paul Fain joined Inside Higher Ed in September 2011 after six years covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly in Charlottesville, Virginia, he has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper, and Mother Jones. His journalism awards include one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, he plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

About Weekly Wisdom
Weekly Wisdom is an event series that happens live on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It also becomes a podcast episode. Every week, we join forces with Inside Higher Ed and talk with a sitting college president or chancellor about how they're specifically navigating the challenges of this moment. These conversations will be filled with practicable things you can do right now by unpacking how and why college leaders are making decisions within higher education. Hopefully, these episodes will also leave you with a sense of optimism and a bit of inspiration.

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