Monday, September 25, 2017

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership. According to Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term servant leadership, this exercise of power “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” During my almost three decades of higher education experience, the most effective leadership is servant leadership in action.

Far too frequently our students provide us with amazing lessons in this type of leadership.

As I walk the campus and observe, often from afar, I am amazed what our students do for each other, the university, and our neighbors.

During move-in week our OWL’S and CA’s provided servant leadership with poise, dignity, and most importantly a genuine SMILE. There was no task that was too small or no frustrated first-year students and their family, that would keep this dedicated group from making the day a memorable one for everybody.

Also, Joar Dahn, our CGA president and an immigrant like me, along with his executive board, have shown leadership in action. Joar has met with town leaders to facilitate conversations so that our students and our neighbors in town can exist symbolically along-side each other.

Our faculty also show us servant leadership. I am utterly amazed at the level of service the BU faculty provides on and off campus. For example, two faculty members, Kurt Smith and Scott Lowe, both from the department of philosophy, serve on the town Planning Commission. Retired faculty members Jim Pomfret and Chang Shub Roh also work together delivering meals on wheels. And I am sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of others who volunteer in many ways across campus and our town and region.

Our staff is also very active serving others. For example, Donna Gillaspy, administrative assistant in the sports information office, is a volunteer at the Bloomsburg Elks Lodge as well as with the Bloomsburg Women’s Civic Club and serves as mission team leader at the Wesley United Methodist Church.

BU is a special place because of the servant leaders that prefer to lead with action rather than words. Valuable lessons for all, especially newcomers to the Huskies family like me.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My first month as a Husky

A rush of emotions filled me on July 10, my first official work day at BU. As I walked towards Carver Hall, I felt a sense of excitement and pride, but was also humbled and had anxious butterflies in my stomach.

Climbing the staircase reminded me of my first day of fifth grade in Fall 1977 when I was a stranger in a new country and not able to speak any English. What would people think of me? Will I be able to survive? Those same thoughts hit me as I entered the building to a host of smiling faces.

On that first day, my new staff welcomed me with a breakfast helping to remediate the butterflies. Soon, though, it was time to work as I attended a video conference at the Greenly Center with the Board of Governors, the System Chancellor and his team, presenting BU’s 2017-18 Action Plan. Just an hour into my presidency and I was already speaking about our Action Plan.

The butterflies were back! While the first day was filled with excitement and those pesky butterflies, I took solace and comfort in the many welcome letters, emails, texts, Facebook posts congratulating me and wishing me well. Four such notes stand out in my mind.

The first was a letter from my elementary school principal – who excitedly expressed father-like pride in my journey from speaking no English to becoming BU’s 19th president. Also, my physics teacher congratulated me using my high school’s (Allentown Central Catholic) Facebook page, who expressed how proud he and my alma mater are of what I have achieved!

The third was from Dr. Richard Englert, the president of Temple University (my alma mater x3 – You see I earned my bachelors, master, and doctorate from Temple U. I am a three-time OWL!) He told me he was TEMPLE PROUD of me. Finally, the fourth was a letter from a colleague at Kutztown University – who expressed her pride in my accomplishments!

However, the most remarkable words of welcome have come from my campus colleagues – welcoming me to the BU FAMILY. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to getting to know the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. Thank you for welcoming me and as I said during my presidential announcement – I will wake up every morning with ONE goal, and that is to make Bloomsburg University better! So, from time to time, the butterflies will re-visit me – and that’s a good thing. They remind me of the tremendous opportunities we have ahead of us!

    With heartfelt gratitude,