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The Innovating Together Podcast

Welcome to innovating together, a podcast produced by the University Innovation Alliance. This is a podcast for busy people in higher education who are looking for the “aha moments” that can propel their work forward. Innovating Together curates the best insights, research, and experts.

Weekly Wisdom 005 - Ed Ray

Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, and Jeff Selingo, author, columnist, and special advisor at Arizona State University, are inviting insight and experiences from presidents and chancellors of universities navigating the challenge in real-time. The fifth guest is the president of Oregon State University, Ed Ray. He has been the president since 2003; previously, he was provost at The Ohio State University, and he is one of the founders of the University Innovation Alliance.

How is He Holding Up?

Edward remarks that leaving battle after taking your responsibilities seriously in the midst of it doesn’t make you glad because you were conditioned for the fight.

Thinking about all the adverse outcomes the outbreak caused, Ed’s heart goes out to people and leaders facing the pandemic but notes that nobody has it all figured out either.

With Transitional Changes Does He Have Any Framework to Hand the Baton Elegantly?

Ray points out four general framework plans that he recommends

  1. One responsibility of leaders is to lead effectively for successful outcomes.
  2. Celebrate people’s successes to make them open to rededicate themselves to new challenges.
  3. Own failure, even if the fault is collective, and encourage them to get back up.
  4. Strategic planning to help the next leader

Is He Making Reference to Any Past Leadership Moment Now?

Ed pointed out that every setback is disappointing, and no two are the same. He also stated that woefulness has no room in leadership, so changing and shaping things that are within control helps.

"When life is hell, you need to keep moving."-Winston Churchill

What Was His Proudest Moment that He Will Take With Him?

He said commencement is one of his favorite moments and spending time with students. Based on the book Goodbye Mr. Chips, Edward said he would live his life like Mr. Chips if plans go perfectly. Then he shares a favorite moment from a Beaver game.

Are There Any Books or Movies He Would Suggest?

His favorite movie is “It’s a wonderful life,” which taught him about focusing on making an impact, on what matters, and what doesn’t matter.

What Does He Hope Will Stay?

For the students, he makes references to “In Pharaoh’s army” by Tobias Wolff about this time being a defining moment. Ray also boasts about his staff and their efforts towards reform and improvements.

A One-Sentence Commencement Speech

He understands that graduates are being tested, but they need to be resilient and not standstill.

Weekly Wisdom 004 - Michael Drake

Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, and Jeff Selingo, author, columnist, and special advisor at Arizona State University, are inviting insight and experiences from presidents and chancellors of universities navigating the challenge in real-time. The fourth guest is Michael Drake, President of The Ohio State University and former Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine. He is a popular and well-loved personality who continues to inspire colleagues, students, and followers.

As A Leader, Does He Have A Framework That He Follows?

According to Michael, he remembers a quote told by a good friend and colleague who said: "the happiest and most fulfilled people do something greater and more profound than their own self-interest." He used this quote to inspire the graduates as well and used it as a guide when deciding. As the President, Drake ensures that he and his team can support the students, staff, etc. amid the pandemic.

Has He Made Changes In The School That He Thinks Will Last Long Term?

Among the profound changes they’ve made, Michael notes that Telemedicine would last long term because he sees it as a platform to enhance the relationship and being in touch with people even after the pandemic. It’s a convenient way to establish connections and conversations without the need to be present in person.

What Advice Can He Give To Those Who Are Struggling To Focus In Trying Times?

Drake shares his experience as an Ophthalmologist in the operating room wherein you can’t afford to lose focus or feel unhappy. Being in the medical field means that there’s no room for uncertainty or indecisiveness. Drake also adds that you have to put your mind into it and remind yourself that this task needs to be done.

Weekly Wisdom 003 - Wendy Wintersteen

Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, and Jeff Selingo, author, columnist, and special advisor at Arizona State University, are inviting insight and experiences from presidents and chancellors of universities navigating the challenge in real-time. The third guest is Wendy Wintersteen, the first female president of Iowa State University and the former endowed dean of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“When You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Innovating”

When it comes to handling Iowa State, Wendy often tells her team a modified version of Winston Churchill’s famous quote. This mindset has helped her team push through and continue to aim for success. She mentions that innovation is the newest face of Iowa State during these trying times.

How Does She Balance Leading While Also Making People Feel Supported?

Wintersteen talks about how past presidents have inspired her to work this way. She says that it’s vital to acknowledge and thank the students for their achievements, especially during these times. Overall, the intent to work together and find the familiar path through the problem makes the community thrive.

What Experiences Help Guide Her Decisions To Lead During A Pandemic?

Wendy has been working in the field for 40 years, so she has experienced a lot. She notes that she was present through most of the crises that Iowa State went through and taught her the true meaning of being part of a community.

How Does She Decide On What Message To Send The People

Wendy says that appropriate communication happens when you share. Becoming upfront and honest about the facts you have is key to gaining trust and letting the community know that you are with them.

How Does She Adjust Expectations Of The People?

Wintersteen states that early on, she already told the people that results and expectations would be different. However, her team will still exert the same effort and productivity to make things work.

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