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Weekly Wisdom 012 - Ana Mari Cauce

In today’s episode of weekly wisdom, Bridget Burns and Rick Seltzer, the project editor at Inside Higher Ed, invite another university leader. The President of the University of Washington Ana Mari Cauce, who has been at the institution since 1986 and president since 2015, is the guest in today’s conversation.

How is She Feeling Now?

Ana described the feeling as a rollercoaster where you feel on top of the pandemic situation one day and then feel different the next.

What Strategy Works For Communicating Her Stand?

They use emails, town halls, and every means available because there is no overcommunication during the pandemic. Ana also stated that a problem they face is the need to have multiple contingencies for every plan they make since many variables are inconsistent. However, people do not appreciate the asterisks.

Does Ana Have a Framework that Helps Her Focus Despite the Constant Changes?

Ana Describes her framework using “ The Crisis Theory,” where there is no need for change when things are smooth until they become turbulent. While some people are adamant against evolution, it is helpful and opens up a new world of possibilities. She also talked about their approach to systemic racism and talks about moving beyond the symbolic statues they have.

Her Advice to the Interim Presidents

Ana’s advice is that interims should approach their jobs like they own it already and not as applicants. Playing it safe is not the best idea.

How Does She Prevent Bias?

After staying in the school for so long, Ana takes time to look outside (accreditation committees and visiting other schools), and she also takes advice from faculty. She also states that all things being equal, she prefers to hire from within, but all things aren’t always.

What Does She Hope Stay?

Ana hopes that the interdisciplinary light that shines currently remains, and people understand the unity in their differences.

What Keeps Her Going?

She finds the vibrancy and resilience of youths refreshing.

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