has a lasting influence
graduates who now
head higher education
When Leo Lambert G'84, newly minted president of Elon College in North Carolina, attended the annual symposium for new college presidents at Harvard University earlier this year, he was struck by one characteristic shared by many participants. "I couldn't believe how many people had Syracuse University in common," Lambert says.
Lambert, who earned a doctoral degree in education from SU, is one of a growing number of academic leaders who have educational ties to the University. Whether they earned degrees in education, management, political science, or public administration, these leaders cite their time on the Hill as critical to the development of their management style.
For some alumni, like Anne Hopkins '63, G'65, G'69, president of the University of North Florida, SU was the driving force behind an early interest in higher education. For others, like John Griffith G'80, president of Presbyterian College in South Carolina, SU was a brief but influential stop on a diverse course of educational and professional development.
Then there are those, like Lambert and the University of North Carolina's Molly Corbett Broad '62, who not only logged time in Syracuse University classrooms, but also launched their administrative careers at Syracuse.
So what are the common threads shared by SU alumni who now lead other academic institutions? Most say the quality of their SU education contributed to their development as leaders. When asked what makes a good academic leader, they cite many of the qualities they observed in the administrators they met herethe ability to listen and work collaboratively, to put the needs of the institution above personal ambition, and to maintain good relationships with various constituencies of an academic community. They now try to incorporate these same characteristics into their own management style.
All believe that academic leaders must be acutely attuned to the institutions they serve, and be willing to diversify their skills and move on when their contributions no longer suit a particular academic setting. "Higher education is a difficult field in this day and age," says A. Lee Fritschler G'60, G'65, former president of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, who has been nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as assistant secretary for post-secondary education. "It is such a vast system, with more than 3,000 colleges, universities, and community colleges. Of all these institutions, no two are alikewhich makes it difficult to generalize about educational styles."
In the following series of profiles, alumni who are leaders in higher education reflect on their educational experience at SU and share their thoughts on the principles of good academic leadership.