Weekly Wisdom Live Event Series

Weekly Wisdom

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

You have to have a culture that embraces, supports, and is committed to these students and their success. The second key element is having the people who are committed to the culture. Once you have that platform, then you can start to think about programs. That’s the mindset we’ve brought to this.

Kim Wilcox

Chancellor, University of California, Riverside

We know now the world is much more complicated than we thought. Historic institutions that are non-adaptive are going to have difficulty adjusting to these kinds of high-speed changes. We need to instill the ability to adjust and keep performing our mission as a core part of what we do.

Michael Crow

President, Arizona State University

This is the time when American higher education understands that our strength as a country will be inextricably tied to our success in bringing people from all backgrounds into the problem solving as we face the future.

Freeman Hrabowski, III

President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

We’ve got a lot of important work to make sure that our institutions come through this pandemic and get stronger, at the same time that we address the issues that are right in front of us around systemic racism.

Mark Becker

President, Georgia State University

If you start to address what’s important to people, I think people are going to take you seriously, regardless of if you’re in a room with them, or if you’re doing it virtually.

Frank Dooley

Chancellor, Purdue University Global

You’ve got to be willing to have courage to have these open and frank discussions, you’ve got to put yourself in a position to foster these kinds of discussions, and sometimes, more often than not, you will listen to your constituency and they will have the better solutions.

Harold L. Martin, Sr.

Chancellor, North Carolina A&T University

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.

Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, and Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed's Contributing Editor, speak with Dr. Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University. G.S.U. has seen tremendous growth and innovation during President Becker's tenure, and he shares his wisdom about how such a large institution with such a diverse student population is able to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests. Topics include:

  • A pivotal moment in history for higher ed
  • President Becker's administrative background in emergency preparedness
  • G.S.U.'s commitment to educational equity
  • President Becker's vision of greater structural flexibility post-pandemic
  • How to avoid burnout
  • The power of the human spirit

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 tenth guest is Chancellor Harold L. Martin from North Carolina, Agricultural and Technical State University.

Advice For His Counterparts Across The Country

Harold Martin states that the members of the faculty, staff, and the students of the university are all expecting calmness and leadership. He said that he could hold up well because of his nature and personality. He shares that the problems we are facing now are a moving target, and we have to be smart and strategic when it comes to pushing through with the contingency plans you have set. Learn to pivot when making critical decisions.

Make sure to have open and frank discussions with the students and engage with them even through social media.

Experiences That Has Helped Him Now

Through his experiences, he has learned that taking on challenges head-on is always the most effective way. It is also essential, he says, to respect the opinions and emotions of faculty and staff. To solve complex issues, you have to have the courage to listen to other people's problems and queries.

How Is Higher Education Going To Change In The Long-run

Online programs are here to stay, he says. He sees that his university will continue to fill-in more online services for their students. There are a variety of lessons that could be done if we maximize what technology has to offer. It is best to give the students the right tools to help them adapt to this change.

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