Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sure-footed Steps Through a Transition

One thing I've noticed in the four and half years I've worked at UNC Charlotte (my only higher education experience): although "academic time" may move slowly, it very often works wisely and effectively -- especially when Chancellor Dubois is in the lead.

A recent case in point is Dubois' response to the recent resignation of David Dunn, who moved on to a corporate job. Dunn led the division of university relations and community affairs (URCA) -- the group primarily responsible for cultivating an up-to-date identity for UNC Charlotte. Dunn also served as the university's legislative liaison (read lobbyist) in Raleigh. That was a very crucial role and one at which Dunn excelled.

Instead of moving immediately to fill the vacancy through the usual national search, Dubois is taking his time to initiate a comprehensive, methodical assessment of the division's structure, staffing and scope of work. Should the time-consuming legislative liasion be separated from the rest of the vice chancellor duties and assigned to a specialist? Should URCA be expanded and if so, how? Should it be folded into Development and Alumni Affairs? Should it be partly dissembled?

Dubois has assigned an interim vice chancellor (Niles Sorensen, who already serves as Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs) to help guide the URCA staff, and he's also bringing in a highly respected outsider (former Wachovia executive Shannon McFayden) to manage the assessment. Dubois is looking to McFayden for a smart, thorough and objective review and recommendation about the future needs of URCA; her findings will be based on interaction with URCA directors and various officials at UNC Charlotte and elsewhere in the community.

McFayden's work, which begins June 1, likely will continue through Dec. 31. Only then would Dubois move to fill Dunn's vacant position permanently.

There are practical reasons for being methodical. Chief among them is that it helps ensure a decision of lasting value.

Dubois is taking sure footed steps. And for this URCA staffer, that's reassuring.
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