Campus News Georgia Impact

Closing the gap

Public Service and outreach leadership academy-H.Group2006
First row from left: Rich Clark

Public service and outreach creates academy to develop future leaders

Workplaces across America anticipate a shortage of experienced leadership in the next five years as some 78 million baby boomers start to retire. When budget reductions in 2001 provided a preview of that leadership void, the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach decided to take action by creating the Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy. 

“Leadership development is an essential component of planning for the future in complex organizations,” says Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach. “We believe this effort will help us meet our needs for future leadership.” 

“Following years of budget reductions, a large number of people decided to retire and left with an enormous amount of institutional memory,” says Vivian Fisher, associate vice president for public service and outreach.

So Dunning’s office established an advisory committee of representatives from all public service and outreach units as well as from colleges and schools to study the leadership development literature, determine needs and examine retirement predictions.

“After more than two years of planning, we created the Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy to develop a pool of public service professionals prepared to step into leadership positions, long- or short-term,” Fisher says. “We also needed a pool of people who could take a strong leadership role on committees campus-wide.”

The first Leadership Academy class kicked off on Jan. 24. For the next 17 months, 22 public service faculty and administrators will undergo intensive leadership training. The class will meet every other month for two- or three-day sessions either on campus or at locations around the state. 

“This program is aimed at a selective group of faculty and administrators based on leadership they have shown, what they have accomplished to date and their potential,” says Allison McWilliams, public service assistant and program coordinator for the Leadership Academy. McWilliams helped develop the proposal for the Leadership Academy and now helps administer the program with Fisher.

The inaugural session included a meeting with Lee Todd, president of the University of Kentucky, who talked about his approach to leadership and development of his business plan for UK. He said the public service mission contributes to making a university great by addressing critical needs of all citizens in the state. He said that if the state is falling apart, it is hard to recruit top faculty and students.

Other speakers will examine different leadership models. UGA leaders such as Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. will help the class look at leadership from a university perspective. Doug Toma, associate professor in the Institute of Higher Education, will lead the group in examining how to move a good organization to a great one, especially in a system that doesn’t allow many financial incentives. Other UGA leaders will assist the program by serving as mentors, including Rodney Bennett, vice president for student affairs; Betty Jean Craige, director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts; Opal Haley, director of UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness; Louise McBee, former UGA vice president for academic affairs and state legislator; and Sylvia Hutchinson, coordinator for emeriti scholars at UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning.  Other speakers include Jim Crupi, president and founder of Strategic Leadership Solutions, who will address leading in a political environment and navigating hidden power structures; Marc Frankel, an organizational psychologist, who will help the class understand organizational values, culture and structure; and Charles Knapp, UGA president emeritus, who will talk about the political realities of leadership.

“The sessions will help the class understand how to work in teams, how to match a leadership style with the people they lead, and how to recognize leadership when they see it,” Fisher says. “Leaders need to know when to back off and let someone else lead. Leadership is not all about a title and being in front of the group.”

 The class will visit communities where UGA public service has had an impact. They will learn about the realities of working in Georgia communities, about what was good and bad about past projects, and about the effect of community involvement on project success. For example, in Dublin the class will study a project that enhanced the quality and aesthetics of a local park.

The class also will visit Moultrie to see the Archway Project in action—a pilot project where Cooperative Extension and Public Service and Outreach are taking a new comprehensive approach to delivering UGA resources to a community.

“People in leadership roles sometimes forget to involve the people who are going to be impacted by those decisions,” Fisher says. “We’ll use real life examples of that.”

When the class graduates in May 2007, it will have a better understanding of the “big picture”—the land-grant mission; the larger political environment and the state; the public service culture; the integration of teaching, research and service; and how the vision for public service and outreach fits together with UGA’s overall mission. Other leadership development plans are in the works. 

“We plan to offer an early career leadership program that will be available to all public service faculty and staff,” McWilliams says. “A mentoring program is also in the works. We want to make it known that we value and encourage personal and professional development for public service faculty and staff.”