(From left) Troy McVey, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Excellence; Robert A. Underwood, President; Dr. Michelle M.S. Santos, Associate Professor of Secondary Education; Dr. Mary Therese F. Cruz, Associate Professor of Political Science; Dr. Kate A. Moots, Associate Professor of Biology; Roland San Nicolas, Reference and Instruction Librarian; and Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez, Senior Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs. (Not shown: Dr. Maika Vuki, Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry)
The next crop of leaders is taking root at the University of Guam. Over an intensive seven-month leadership development program — the first of its kind for UOG — a group of faculty has not only absorbed a balanced diet of information about leadership strategies and the University's structure and governance, but they have produced results – modules, policies, procedures, and initiatives that are now undergoing or close to implementation.
Continuity and balance of the University's human resources was one of five areas identified as crucial in paving the way for UOG President Robert A. Underwood's 2014 "Good to Great" initiative to realize the University's full potential. To address this need, the Academic & Student Affairs office developed an internal training program designed for faculty wanting to advance in leadership positions or wanting exposure to academic administration.
"The participants were exposed to an exceptionally broad viewpoint of the University," said Troy McVey, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Excellence. "They have looked at things from a multitude of perspectives. They've had presentations from the president's office, from deans, from the comptroller, from human resources. ... They even had honest, open, frank conversations with the President."
Prior to the President's G2G initiative and prior to identifying leadership development as a crucial component of that, the University did not have an organized system of leadership development, McVey said. Faculty and administrators being primed for larger roles travel off-island to attend programs, such as the Harvard Management Development Program, but, McVey said, "We wanted something home-grown to cultivate leadership skills within our unique environment."
In September, the office solicited for applications from full-time faculty, and a selection committee ultimately chose five participants: Dr. Mary Therese F. Cruz, Associate Professor of Political Science who was also serving as Vice President of the Faculty Senate and Chairwoman of the CLASS Curriculum Committee; Roland San Nicolas, Reference and Instruction Librarian; Dr. Kate A. Moots, Associate Professor of Biology who was also serving as President of the Faculty Senate; Dr. Michelle M.S. Santos, Associate Professor of Secondary Education; and Dr. Maika Vuki, Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry.
"A lot of why I applied was purely just curiosity," Cruz said. "I've been teaching at UOG for about 11 years now, and I was interested in finding out more about the inner workings of the University and ... to see the more large-scale operation as opposed to just what happens in my college."
Cruz, who was accepted into the program as a junior-level faculty member, has since been elected chairwoman of her division but has turned down the role to advance from vice president to president of the Faculty Senate this July.
Several participants accepted into the program had similar reasons for applying. They indicated a desire to learn the ins and outs of the University’s system and see how the gears work together in order to effect change and evolve past dysfunctions. They also expressed a desire to refine their personal leadership skills, show their commitment to the University, and be part of succession planning.
"I have a professional goal to earn my Ph.D. and move into administration," San Nicolas said. "This program not only prepared me for administration, but also for faculty leadership."
Just following the conclusion of the program, San Nicolas was re-elected to the Faculty Senate and chosen to chair its Standing Committee on Evaluation.
Over the course of seven months, the group met one Saturday per month for all-day workshops. They were also tasked with a project to deliver an innovative solution to an existing problem at UOG by the end of the program. Along the way, they received guidance and support through regular sessions with a mentor as well as one-on-one time with the University’s president.
"The time they got alone with him was very impactful," McVey said.
The workshops were divided into two-hour modules and presentations covering the organizational makeup and governance of the University, problem solving, strategic planning, grant writing, and a series of literacy workshops covering finances, information technology, human resources, and business practices of UOG and government of Guam, including procurement, budgeting, and financial reporting.
"This University is so vast — it would take years to learn everything. But this program gave a crash course of the major units, who handles what, how to fast-track payments, who to ask to get things done ... it was very useful," San Nicolas said.
Outside of class, the participants were tasked with reading assignments, including "Leading Change" by John P. Kotter, whose themes were central in the G2G initiative, and "Innovator's DNA" by Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen, which guided the approach for their innovation challenge projects.
"The readings were very helpful in getting us to think outside of the box to solve problems in innovative ways … reframing problems and looking at issues through other people's eyes. You can't use only your experiences to make a decision. You have to blend — look for another point of view," San Nicolas said.
For the Innovation Challenge, the participants chose a project of interest from a list of action items identified in the G2G initiative and worked toward a solution through the program's conclusion in May. Vuki's proposed development of several online science courses is ready for implementation. San Nicolas's proposed creation of a new "Academic Professional" status of employee to better support the roles of librarians, archivists, and curators is moving through shared governance, McVey said.
The other proposals, which include the implementation of software to improve the efficiency of student advising and planning, improvements to the program review guidelines, and the development of post-tenure review procedures, are also pending review by the appropriate committees and may move forward, he said.
While these projects checked off some needed to-dos on the road from "Good to Great," the larger outcome was an investment into the human capital that will ultimately have a hand in steering the University into its next phase.
"We've got people already at this University who are so invested, and the University recognizes that enough to start training them for next steps," Cruz said. "I think it provides a value that you wouldn't otherwise have hiring people who don’t already have that same level of investment in this institution and in the community."
The next incoming president of UOG will ultimately decide whether to include the Leadership Development Program as part of the University's roadmap moving forward, but McVey says that regardless, components of the program will continue in order to meet a variety of faculty and professional development needs in the University.