the changing leadership means for the University
is an art, "a performing art," according to Darden School
professor Alexander B. Horniman, an expert on organiza- tional
behavior and managerial psychology.
a year, several high-level academic-administrative posts at the
University will need to be filled: Peter W. Low is stepping down
as vice president and provost, as are Robert Scott, dean of the
Law School, and Melvyn P. Leffler, dean of Arts & Sciences. Jay
Lemons is taking a new presidential post and leaving U.Va.'s College
at Wise. In addition, two new vice presidential positions are
being established under Executive Vice President and Chief Operating
Officer Leonard W. Sandridge. And there are a half dozen other
new leaders who have recently taken the helm of areas such as
the Architecture School, the Division of Information, Technology
and Communication, and the Dean of Students office. It's safe
to say the University will go through a major transition in leadership.
In a series of articles, Inside UVA will examine some of the unique
aspects of academic leadership and speak with some of the University's
most distinguished leaders before they step down from those roles.
"A new CEO or president of a private company can make dramatic
changes in a short time, but a university is a more stable [environment],≤
said Horniman, a senior fellow at the Olsson Center for Applied
Ethics. The structure and function are going to stay in place,
because there will always be an educational mission. There is
a distinctive academic culture, however, with its own procedures
and rituals that successful academic leaders need to work with
in order to be effective, he said.
who has been on the Darden faculty through six deans, pointed
out that "we tend to use the criteria we know -- the curriculum
vitae, academic success and performance -- but these things may
have little to do with leadership.
thought has been that if the person is smart enough, he or she
will be a good [academic] leader, that it'll just happen, but
that's taking a chance," he said. Private organizations spend
much more time and money than universities on managerial development,
academic leaders have to be good scholars, because "it's
important to have creditable leaders," he said. That's what
distinguishes them from corporate managers. An academic leader
will have to be able to influence the faculty, because they exercise
a lot of power in a school's academic functioning -- setting and
maintaining the curricula, for example.
dean Robert Scott echoed that analysis: any academic leader has
to have the respect and approval of the faculty, "kind of
like parliament," he said. And he thinks it's not that unusual
to find faculty members who are interested in these top positions.
"Almost all of us have ideas on how to make things run better.
Putting those ideas to work is a real opportunity," Scott
has a very strong and successful pool of potential academic leaders
from which to draw, and considering internal candidates is something
"which I believe you must do," said Scott, who is currently
serving on the search committee for the dean of Arts & Sciences.
time and commitment required to do these jobs well have increased,
pointed out several U.Va. leaders, including Scott, retiring Senior
Vice President Ernie Ern and Vice President and Provost Peter
are serving shorter terms these days in major administrative jobs
because of the intense demands they must face," said Low,
who has held the provost post for the lengthy term of seven years
and will return to the Law faculty in July. "The result is
that turnover is more frequent than it used to be, and periods
like the one we are in now (where a number of leadership positions
are open) occur from time to time.≤
not the first time it's happened, Low pointed out. When he was
appointed interim provost in January 1994, the reappointment of
the dean of Arts & Sciences was pending and three dean searches
-- in Architecture, Engineering and Education -- were under way,
and all were filled by the summer's end. "These moments happen
in University life, both because of the demands of the positions
and because their occupants are typically persons Ćon loan' from
their regular academic jobs,≤ Low said. "In time, usually,
they wish to return to them. People do not serve as provost or
dean for a full career; they are jobs people go in and out of.
most important thing I do relates to people -- participating in
the selection of deans, the promotion and tenure process, etc.,"
Low explained. "The challenge is to get the right people
into the right jobs."
looking for candidates to fill the top-level posts at U.Va., Horniman
recommended looking for evidence of an individual's desire for
and experience in interacting with different constituents of the
higher education community -- faculty, students, parents, alumni,
managers and employees. Search committees should also pay attention
to how candidates motivate people and especially how they support
faculty. A good university leader should want to be engaged with
these constituents, with higher education issues and philosophies,
with plans and strategies for achieving academic goals.
deans of Arts & Sciences and the Law School, respectively, Leffler
and Scott have also devoted an increasing amount of time to fundraising
and facilities, while at the same time addressing academic concerns
such as new curricular efforts.
have been fortunate in our leadership at the University,"
said President John T. Casteen III at a recent Faculty Senate
meeting, "and use our leadership of the past to serve as
models for the kind of people we will choose to lead the University
in the future."