As a sophomore at Syracuse University, Molly Corbett Broad decided to major in mathematics, with the goal of becoming a teacher. That fall, she took an economics course with a professor named Melvin A. Eggers. After her first exam, Eggers offered some life-altering advice: major in economics instead.
The suggestion surprised Broad, but she was impressed by Eggers's interest in her talent and willingness to advise her. Today, when she hears about Syracuse University's efforts to provide a student-centered education, she remembers her own experiences with Eggers and other faculty members. "Frankly, that's exactly the kind of university I knew-student centered," says Broad, president of the University of North Carolina. "I benefited greatly from the quality of education I received."
After earning a master's degree in economics from Ohio State University, Broad returned to Syracuse in 1971 to work in the Office of Budget and Planning and later served as director of institutional research. She left to become deputy director of the New York State Commission on the Future of Post-Secondary Education, but returned again to SU in 1977. This time, she was named vice president for government and corporate relations, a post she held for eight years. "I quickly realized the University was a place where I could engage in my life's work," Broad says. "I came to understand the University from the inside out, having had such a range of experiences. It was a great place to learn about being an administrator."
By the time Broad became a staff member, Eggers was Chancellor. When she speaks of her years working as a member of his administrative team, Broad's respect for her former professor is unmistakable. She admired his knack for diplomacy, and calls upon his lessons frequently in her own work. "Mel Eggers was a wonderful role model," Broad says. "He never confused the man with the office he served. He had so much respect for the Office of the Chancellor."
In 1985, Broad moved on again to become executive director and chief executive officer of the Arizona Board of Regents. In 1992, Broad took her talents to the California State University system, where she served as executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer.
Because Eggers was so progressive, Broad, a 1999 Arents Award recipient, still applies many of his leadership qualities to her own work. Eggers's collaborative approach was quite different from the corporate style followed by most academic leaders of the day. It was an approach Broad emulatedand later refined into her own. "My views of leadership are probably shaped by the views of today," Broad says. "They are a culmination of experiences."
Broad, who gave this fall's Ganders Lecture in the School of Education, is now in her second year as president of the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, the oldest public university in the United States. She also is the university's first woman president. Like Eggers, she realizes the importance of having a deep sense of respect for the office, knowing her leadership is only one factor in UNC's success. "There is a great link with the past and with tradition," she says. "The contributions of a good president can only enhance a sense of balance. It is the faculty who are the heart of an institution. Our job, as leaders, is to create an environment that permits academic growth."
During the early seventies, Robert Miller taught political science at Le Moyne College in Syracuse and was quite certain the classroom was his place in the academic world. "I never planned to become an administrator," says the president of Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.
When Miller was asked to chair Le Moyne's political science department, he discovered a different arena in which to apply his talents. "I enjoyed being chair and was effective," he recalls. "Because of my time at SU, I was well trained in political science and public administration and that was important."
Miller credits his days as a Maxwell School doctoral student with enhancing his understanding of disciplined thinking and organizational theory. While doctoral studies gave him academic depth, his time on the Le Moyne faculty provided teaching and management skills. These experiences play a prominent role in his work today as president of Nazareth College. "That credibility comes through in the way I relate to the faculty," he says.
Miller also crafted his leadership style through a variety of faculty and administrative roles at Northern Kentucky University, Rollins College in Florida, Antioch University in California, and Queens College. "The skills I acquired adapting to each of those campuses had a very deep impact on my disciplinary training," Miller says. "I think one of my strengths is dealing with each issue as an independent one. If you are going to be successful leading any large organization, you have to be able to adapt."
Miller is pleased with the legacy he found at Nazareth College. "The foundation on which we are working is solid," he says. "The financial picture and the social culture are very strong, very healthy."
With these key elements in place, Miller is working to expand the college's regional appeal. "It is nice to be able to focus on moving forward," he says. "I like the challenge of developing new programs."