By Eck Doerry
Professor of Computer Science,
director of NAU’s Global Science and Engineering Program and 2013 University Leadership Program alumnus
I was asked to reflect a bit on how the University Leadership Program had been of value to me to “help interest others in the program.” Say what?! It is hard to believe that any colleague on campus wouldn’t immediately see the incredible benefit that this program offers. I can only surmise that there is some lack of clarity regarding what the program entails; maybe I can help clear that up.
First of all, this is not a program for administrators. Heck, it’s not really a program for those who aspire toward administration at all. Instead, the “leadership” in ULP is meant in the broadest possible sense, focused on those on campus who see themselves as “leaders” in any sense: the thoughtful voice in faculty meetings; the “big picture person” on committees; the “strategic thinker” in research groups; or even the antidote to the no-facts blowhard during water cooler conversations.
If you feel in the dark on how our university leaders make decisions or what factors play into those decisions, then ULP is for you. It’s a truly unique program that directly supports the notion that we are a collegium of peers, all with some voice in steering this university, and for that to work well, at least some subset of faculty “leaders” has to actually understand how priorities are set and how decisions are made.
If you’re pretty well familiar with your own area, but are kind of fuzzy on how human resources, marketing, legislative affairs, athletics, policing, community relations and many other things weave together with the core academic mission to make NAU work, then ULP is for you. If you’d like to get the full scoop on university budgets and financial planning, then apply for ULP. At every meeting, the president and key leaders from each area will be there to explain their operations in detail, and then you get to ask all the questions that you can think of, no holds barred. Remember how Charlie Bucket gets to go inside the Wonka Chocolate Factory and see how it all works? Yeah, it’s like that feeling—but without the Oompa-Loompas and with a whole lot healthier food.
The ULP group itself is incredible too, spanning every university area. I was surprised to realize how many pieces there really are to the institutional puzzle, and now I personally know someone from each of those areas that I can nudge if I have a question or a problem.
In sum, the ULP turned out to be everything and more than I had hoped for when I signed up. The experience has fundamentally changed how I view and participate in all core university processes. I highly recommend ULP to anyone for whom NAU is more than just a place to work.