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Dr.  Lee  Allen  Aggison,  Jr.


! ! ! !

The Art Of

Leadership

Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr.


Copyright © 2014 by Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. All rights reserved.


“YOU%SHALL%KNOW%THE%TRUTH,%AND%THE%TRUTH%SHALL%MAKE%YOU%FREE”% !

TABLE!of!CONTENTS!

BIOGRAPHICAL!SKETCH!!.............................................................................................................................!1! ! VICTORY!!..............................................................................................................................................................!3! ! THE!LEADERSHIP!TEAM!!.............................................................................................................................!5! ! KNOW!YOUR!TEAM!!...........................................................................................................................................!5! ! FLEXIBLE!AND!AGILE!!........................................................................................................................................!7! ! TRUST!!.................................................................................................................................................................!7! ! ORGANIZATIONAL!CLARITY!!.............................................................................................................................!7! ! OPERATIONAL!UNITY!!.......................................................................................................................................!8! ! INITIATIVE!AND!ACTION!!...............................................................................................................................!10! ! STILLMAN!COLLEGE!!...................................................................................................................................!11! ! SHARED!GOVERNANCE!!..................................................................................................................................!11! ! FUTURE!OF!LIBERAL!ARTS!EDUCATION!!......................................................................................................!13! ! SEVEN!OBJECTIVES!!.....................................................................................................................................!16! ! 1.!DEVELOPING!SERVANT!LEADERS!!............................................................................................................!16! ! 2.!RECRUITMENT,!PERSISTENCE,!AND!GRADUATION!!...............................................................................!17! ! 3.!STILLMAN!COLLEGE!STUDENT!UNION!BUILDING!!.................................................................................!19! ! 4.!NATIONAL!ALUMNI!HEADQUARTERS!!.....................................................................................................!19! ! 5.!SCIENCE,!TECHNOLOGY,!ENGINEERING,!AND!MATHEMATICS!(STEM)!!............................................!19! ! 6.!COMMUNITY!ENGAGEMENT!AND!OUTREACH!!........................................................................................!20! ! 7.!FISCAL!HEALTH!OF!STILLMAN!COLLEGE!!................................................................................................!20! ! FINAL!THOUGHTS!!........................................................................................................................................!21! ! BIBLIOGRAPHY!!.............................................................................................................................................!22! !


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH I am a native of Romulus, Michigan. I enrolled at Stillman College in the Fall Semester of 1986 and began taking courses in the Department of Biology. During my sophomore year I decided that I also wanted to major in Chemistry and began my course work in that department as well. In the fall of my sophomore year I approached Dr. Jarnail Singh about joining the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program (MBRS). At the time, there were no openings available, but I signed on as a volunteer worker. During the summer, a position became available and I officially became an MBRS participant. During this time, I was a year round research student and participated in several MBRS/MARC symposia, giving poster as well as oral presentations each year at the national level. I graduated from Stillman College in 1990. In the summer of 1990, I participated in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Program at Wayne State University and began a year-long post-baccalaureate program. In the Fall Semester of 1991, I began my doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Allen Nicholson in the Department of Biological Sciences. I investigated the effects of bacterial RNase III phosphorylation by the T7 bacteriophage protein kinase. I successfully completed my degree requirements and was awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy Degree in the spring of 1998. The 1

Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014


University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics. I began to research the molecular mechanisms involved in the cellular trafficking of the human blood clotting Factor IX. After two years, I made my return to Stillman College as an Assistant Professor (August 2000 through July 2004). During the summer of 2004, I resigned from my position at Stillman College and accepted a Chair of Biology and Associate Professor position at Texas College. Within two months of accepting the Chair position, I reformed the entire Biology curriculum: adding new required courses and giving the department a more solid foundation upon which to build. Also, within my first two months at Texas College, I consolidated the Departments of Biology, Physics and Chemistry into a new “Department of Natural Sciences�. I served as Director of the PROJECT EXPORT Mentor Program (National Institutes of Health): a cooperative project between Texas College and the University of Texas Health Center Tyler designed to establish a research center investigating health disparities among racial and ethnic groups. In the fall of 2005, I accepted a position as an Associate Professor of Biology at Wiley College. June 2006, I became an Associate Professor-in-Residence within the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. My duties included teaching Fundamentals of Microbiology, directing the Professional Science Masters Program in Microbial Systems Analysis and assisting the department, graduate school and university as a whole in realizing their diversity goals. From April 2008 until July 2012, I served in the Office of the Provost in various capacities: Associate Dean, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School, and Special Assistant to the Provost. From July 2012 until July 2014, I served as the Executive Assistant to the President of Wiley College, Dr. Haywood L. Strickland. On July 1, 2014, I accepted the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wiley College. In that capacity, I began the process of reorganizing the Office of Academic Affairs and initiated several projects that will improve the functioning, effectiveness, and efficiency of the Division and lead to improved learning outcomes for students.

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VICTORY "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.� -President Dwight D. Eisenhower

! National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 111, National Archives Identifier: 531217

Victory for Stillman is paramount. Many media outlets and higher education professionals bemoan the inevitable demise of the HBCU. I lend no credence to these naysayers. When one considers the challenges faced by Reverend Dr. Charles H. Stillman in 1876 (i.e. establishing a training school for African Americans in the former Capital City of the Confederacy on the grounds of the Cochrane plantation, with few supporters and fewer resources) the challenges facing Stillman supporters today pales in comparison. We must be prepared to provide the proper stewardship necessary to ensure the continued survival and prosperity of this institution. The foundations of Stillman are as strong as any liberal arts institution in the country: a competent, well-respected faculty; a wired campus with a world-class technology infrastructure; a well-maintained physical plant; and a Division II athletic program. Upon this foundation, Stillman has the opportunity to become a stable, viable, liberal arts institution prepared to educate generations of Stillmanites. Victory for Stillman is the only acceptable outcome. What is victory for Stillman? 3

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1. Continued progress toward becoming a top tier liberal arts institution 2. Stabilization of the student enrollment followed by substantial growth 3. 100% residence hall occupancy 4. Increased student persistence, graduation, and four-year completion rates 5. Improved relations with the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. 6. Improved relations with the Tuscaloosa community 7. Improved relations with Stillman College Alumni 8. Improved fiscal health of Stillman 9. Growth of the endowment 10. Greater participation by all constituencies in the success of Stillman

To achieve these goals, effective leadership is required: leadership that provides faculty and staff the opportunity to be innovative, effective, and efficient; leadership that responds to the needs and concerns of ALL constituencies of the College appropriately and promptly; leadership that is transparent, clear, and concise; leadership that is able to define and communicate organizational clarity to ALL constituencies of the College; leadership that is prepared to place Stillman College first and is prepared to be the steward that the College deserves; leaderships that understands and appreciates the necessity of Stillman College; leadership that will foster a student-centered Stillman College. The Eisenhower quote above is often misquoted and misrepresented. At the conclusion of World War II, a reporter asked Eisenhower how he was able to get so many men to storm northern Europe on D-Day? What were the words he used to get them to face their greatest fear and achieve the seemingly impossible? Eisenhower’s reply was that there were no words that he could think of. The men and women of the Allied Expeditionary Force wanted to free Europe and he simply provided the tools, organization, and leadership necessary for them to obtain victory. In the pages that follow, I present my methods and practices in the art of leadership, what I believe to be needed for the constituencies of Stillman College to obtain victory of this most venerable institution.

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can have in the future.� -Charles F. Kettering Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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THE LEADERSHIP TEAM KNOW YOUR TEAM The leadership team of the College must think institutionally and act strategically. They must always keep at the forefront of their minds the short, mid, and long-range health of the institution (the hallmark of good stewardship). Concerning themselves with only short-range goals places the College in peril. Setting leadership team goals and objectives which are in line with the mission of the College and meet the expectations of the Board of Trustees is a given. Leadership is getting the leadership team to achieve these goals and objectives effectively and efficiently. I refer to leadership as an art because there is much more to it than simply developing a comprehensive project management plan, following a Gantt chart, calculating risks, making assessments, placing check marks next to performance indicators, and filing end-of-year reports. Many leadership teams are adept at the mechanics of administration and management. The greatest leadership teams have something more. That something more allows the leadership team to go beyond simply achieving goals and objectives. That something more allows the organization to develop novel ideas and innovations through the freedom of expression, solid teamwork, mission clarity, and organizational support. That something more is the emotional intelligence quotient of the leader: emotional intelligence, understanding personality and behavioral styles, awareness of prevention-focused motivation vs. promotion-focused motivation members, etc. My emotional intelligence allows me to inspire and drive leadership teams toward creativity. I utilize a combination of both “hard skill” and “soft skill” methods and concepts to manage leadership teams to get the very best performance from people: Standards within the Project Management Body of Knowledge Six Sigma standards and tools Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instruments Patrick Lencioni’s concepts on leading executive teams o “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive” o “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” The concepts are simple, adaptable to almost any organization, and when employed properly, • • • •

have the ability to filter throughout the organization. 5

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Be Cohesive, Be Clear, Over Communicate & Reinforce

Repeat Management Philosophy, Standards, & Direction To Everyone Constantly

Identity, Direction, Strategy, Objectives, Vision, Roles & Responsibilities

Involve Everyone in Creating Solutions

Adapted from Patrick Lencioni’s “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”

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FLEXIBLE AND AGILE To obtain victory for Stillman College, the administration, faculty, and staff must be flexible and agile. Proper planning and management are required, but the ability to respond to changes in the educational environment without becoming overly reactionary (resulting in mission drift) is necessary as well. To be sure, the future of liberal arts education in the United States is not crystal clear to most, including those that are firmly immersed in the academy. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), for-profit online education, the rating system and performance standards set by the United States government to take effect in the coming years, the sky-rocketing cost of education and the “amenities race”, etc., are all pressures that institutions of higher education must contend with. These pressures will tend to be more significant for small private liberal arts institutions. While the pressures will become substantial, if the leadership of Stillman College prepares for them in light of the mission and vision of the institution, the College is sure to flourish.

TRUST The foundation of a healthy, cohesive leadership team is TRUST between its members. This trust begins with the executive leader. To achieve this trust takes time and significant effort. As a leader, I have found the following practices effective in facilitating trust: remove fear of conflict, address difficult situations head-on, facilitate difficult conversations, mediate interpersonal conflicts, minimize political motivations and activity within the leadership team, and become open to the harshest criticisms from team members. These practices are difficult to master and even more difficult to maintain within a team once established. However, once established, I have found that the teams I have led became very efficient, focused, and inspired.

ORGANIZATIONAL CLARITY Throughout my career, at both R1 institutions and liberal arts institutions, I have heard faculty, staff, and administrators bemoan that “this is not a business, it is higher education”. Whenever I have heard this, I immediately understood that the purveyor of this philosophy on higher education did not understand higher education at all. Institutions of higher education are businesses: the federal government, state governments, vendors, and the institution’s employees (each employee expects to be compensated for the work that they provide) see the institution as such. To be sure, 7

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non-profit institutions of higher education are unique businesses: they are not driven by profit but rather by their endeavor to educate and enhance the lives of students, in many instances they have practices that are diametrically opposed to standard business practices. While they are unique businesses, they are businesses nonetheless. As such, they must employee sound business practices whenever possible. The first order of business for the next administration of Stillman College should be to establish unified management practices and administrative philosophy. This will assist the College with establishing organizational and operational unity. Many higher education institutions spend a great deal of time and money on developing their organizational clarity (i.e. mission, strategy, values, brand, etc.). Some institutions go so far as to bring in outside consultants to tell the leadership team their mission, strategy, values, or brand. Other leaders and leadership teams make the grave mistake of developing a mission, strategy, values, or brand divorced from the reality of the institution. The result is often a collection of words with intended purpose of communicating something that appears to people from the outside that is contrived and cannot be forced into reality. To truly create organizational clarity, the leadership team must carefully consider the origins of the organization, the foundation upon which the organization has prospered, and where the organization is headed. These things permeate the organization and once discovered, bring the organizational clarity that is sought. This clarity in turn brings about unity within the organization and allows the organization to become aligned and synergized.

OPERATIONAL UNITY As stated earlier, higher education is a unique business. One standard business practice that should be incorporated into Stillman College is a Quality Management Office (QMO). A Quality Management Office will assist with the effort to create organizational clarity, operational unity, and help the College to realize its full potential. Constant improvement at Stillman would include a Quality Management Office that: •

Reports to the President

Analyzes every office and department on campus each year

Improves effectiveness/efficiency and reduces costs

Utilizes quantitative and qualitative methods of improvement Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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Creates improvement plans

Assists employees in data collection and reporting

Assists the leaders of departments to develop improvements

Ensures that constant improvement is part of the day-to-day culture

Demonstrates savings in time, effort, and money

Demonstrates improved student satisfaction as a result of its activities

A QMO that is independent of other offices allows the improvements to occur without excessively occupying the time of other employees; employees that may or may not be well versed in the discipline of quality management. An independent QMO would also ensure that improvements were uniform, in line with the mission of the College, and that improvements remained studentcentered. Another standard business practice that should be incorporated into Stillman College is a Quality Management Institute (QMI). Often times, particularly within academia, employees are promoted or hired to become managers at various levels with little or no formal training. Academic

CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT

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institutions rely upon an employee’s experience to guide them in the management process, which leads to mixed results, inconsistent management practices and cultures between units, and ultimately leads to organizational confusion and operational disunity. Healthy organizations are consistent in their management practices throughout the institution and have an identifiable institutional culture. These organizations are intentional about creating clarity, consistency and unity throughout the institution. In healthy organizations, all employees are focused on the mission and vision, have a clear understanding of the management standard of the institution, and operate courageously when planning, executing and evaluating projects. A Quality Management Institute would ensure that all managers at all levels of the College were operating similarly and assist the College in achieving organizational clarity and operational unity. The institute would require that ALL managers successfully complete a year-long course of work consisting of a series of workshops and seminars. Workshop and seminar topics contained within the institute would include:
 •

Fund Raising

Resolving Conflicts

Becoming an Effective Manager

Conducting Productive Meetings

Understanding Behavioral Styles

Time Management

Building Cohesive Teams

Managing a Budget

Stillman College Technology

Risk Management

Effective Communication

Quality Client Service

The Delegation Process

Developing Leaders

Problem Solving

Managing Change


Project Management

INITIATIVE AND ACTION I am a firm believer in careful, methodical planning for short, mid, and long-range activities. This careful planning however cannot hinder an institution from taking brave and bold action when it is required. Whether it is making the necessary adjustments in the operations of the institution or seizing upon an opportunity that presents itself. Brave and bold action must of course be based upon data/facts and walk the fine line between responding and reacting. While responding, the institution cannot lose sight of its mission, organizational clarity, and operational unity. Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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STILLMAN COLLEGE SHARED GOVERNANCE

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” -Mahatma Gandhi Institutions of higher learning need and deserve “Shared Governance”. Meaningful and significant input from the President, Administrators, the Board of Trustees, Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni is the key to success at institutions of higher learning. The President, Administrators, the Board of Trustees, Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni have a vested interest in the success of the institution. They are invaluable resources. Together, they represent a formidable force. Together, there would be few problems that they are unable to solve. The operative word is “together”. If they are expected to contribute to the success of the institution, they must also have a responsibility in the institution's governance. Without this responsibility, there would exist groups of individuals with widely varying degrees of commitment to the institution: from the totally committed to those only seeking to profit from the institution. The various entities of the institution would have no real sense of community and their willingness to contribute in a meaningful way to advance and promote the institution would be minimal. Time and time again examples of institutions that have turned away from shared governance are noted and their subsequent struggles have been detailed. I incorporate this concept of shared governance into all of my professional activities. There are very few times when I have found it necessary to play the role of the traditional “boss”. I have found that building a consensus among a group and solving problems as a team works far better than simply giving orders. In particular, I believe that this form of management works best with student populations. Allowing students the opportunity to participate in a decision-making process that involves them directly eliminates miscommunication and leads to better outcomes. Students that approach me with issues are often taken aback when the first words out of my mouth are, “what do you want to happen next?” or “how can you and I solve this problem?” Immediately they are empowered and understand that they are going to actively participate in resolving the issue facing them.

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With regard to the management of staff, I do not participate in “office politics”. When problems arise, or if there is a personnel issue that must be dealt with, I immediately involve all concerned parties to arrive at a resolution. I am very adept at conflict resolution and at assisting teams in problem solving. By keeping all parties focused on the ultimate goal of the institution (i.e. delivering the highest quality education possible to the student) I have been better able to meet the needs of the institution. By employing the “interdependence paradigm” of we (e.g. we can work together, we can solve this problem, we can achieve more than I, etc.) in the workplace, the teams and individuals that I have worked with have been able to accomplish tasks with ease. As the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Connecticut, I put into practice the change I wished to see in the academy. Frankly, and I am aware that this will seem a bit hyperbolic or possibly harsh, I have witnessed time and time again at several institutions the talk of shared governance...that is usually where it begins and ends. At my very first meeting of the Graduate Faculty Council as their Dean, I informed the body that the way the Council had functioned in the past would no longer continue. As Dean, I would do more than simply listen to the issues that concerned them. I would seek their consul on all issues and utilize their collective experience, knowledge and wisdom to advance graduate education on our campus. I asked them to appoint a moderator for our meetings, as I would not preside over the meetings, as had been the practice for the previous 30 years. Rather, I would sit among the faculty and address the Council only when requested by the body or when there were crucial announcements/updates to be made. Furthermore, the Graduate Faculty Council would henceforth make all major decisions that needed to be made with regard to graduate education. To my dismay, after making this announcement and taking my seat to await questions, I was met with a mix of confusion, delight, and bewilderment. The comments that stick with me to this day include: “What do you mean?” “How is this going to work?” “I am delighted and speechless?” I had assumed that we, the faculty, had always wanted not only a policy of shared governance but also a practice of shared governance. When confronted with the prospect of true and significant participation in the governance of our area of the University, the Graduate Faculty Council proved to be reluctant to take up this mantle. I assured them that everything would be fine and that graduate education would benefit from our shared governance, oversight and work. As the semester progressed, the Council quickly realized their new role and responsibilities (these roles and responsibilities were clearly outlined in the Graduate School Bylaws Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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for many years but for whatever reason, had been ignored or supplanted) and assumed them with zeal. Graduate education at the University of Connecticut has indeed improved from our collective cooperation. Stillman College would similarly benefit from a policy and practice of shared governance. All constituents of the College have unique insights and invaluable contributions to make to the institution. In order to implement it properly, a series of workshops, discussions, and significant work must be carried out to determine the best form of shared governance for Stillman. The process of accomplishing this may take a year or more and can only occur after the establishment of the Quality Management Office and the Quality Management Institute which will bring about the necessary organizational clarity and operational unity.

FUTURE OF LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION Beyond the top online education institutions (edX, Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy, etc.), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, University of Illinois, and many others all offer tuition-free courses, certificates, and educational resources. The University of the People offers tuition-free online degrees in business administration and computer science and their first graduates are now entering the workplace. In addition, Georgia Institute of Technology now offers a nearly tuition-free master’s degree in computer science utilizing MOOCs. Despite the myriad of challenges facing United States liberal arts institutions, I believe that Stillman College is the exception. Stillman College is positioned to survive and flourish in the face of these challenges. The employers, graduate and professional schools of tomorrow will seek graduates that are: adept at information gathering and synthesis of data; able to analyze and solve complex problems; able to understand and perform in team dynamics in non-traditional work environments; proficient in networking and career-centered communication and social interaction; able to communicate in a language other than English; and knowledgeable of world cultures within a business context. A liberal arts education is capable of equipping our students with these skills. Developing Servant Leaders – the methods employed in liberal arts education are well suited for developing servant leaders. An online degree cannot perform this function. A physical space (i.e. a campus such as Stillman’s), with direct, face-to-face interaction with other human beings 13

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(including peers and mentors), and inclusion in an intentional community is what a liberal arts education provides. Online Education – carefully planned expansion of the College’s online education enterprise is necessary. This expansion should include the incorporation of MOOCs, expansion into international markets, and the addition of online certificates and degrees. A Repository for Arts and Culture – the art and cultures of west Alabama (specifically the “Black Belt”) is unique in the world. Stillman College is the ideal institution to be the focal point for that art and culture: a place for scholars from around the world to contribute, collaborate, and conduct their research and scholarly activities.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEMs) – expansion upon the undergraduate STEM foundation that exists at Stillman will better prepare our students for career, professional, and graduate education opportunities. This expansion should include research, expansion into translation research and applied degree programs, and the incorporation of transdisciplinary activities.

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Educational and Corporate Partnerships – development of two-way partnerships that provide scholarly, research, and educational opportunities will help to expand the profile and visibility of Stillman College and enhance the educational environment. International Opportunities – while the United States undergraduate population continues to grow at a meager pace, the international undergraduate population is in the midst of unprecedented expansion. Countries that are experiencing this population growth have the capital but do not have the capacity to accommodate these students. Stillman College should position itself to expand the capacity of these countries in need. Expansion of the Student Enrollment – leaders within the academy all suggest that if small liberal arts institutions are to survive the next 50 years, they must dramatically increase their enrollments.

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SEVEN OBJECTIVES Despite the reality of my outside looking in perspective, I have nonetheless contemplated seven objectives that would be apart of my administration at Stillman College. Keeping in mind that a thorough assessment of the state of the College is warranted along with guidance from the Board of Trustees, these are the seven immediate objectives that would benefit Stillman College: 1. DEVELOPING SERVANT LEADERS 2. RECRUITMENT, PERSISTENCE, AND GRADUATION 3. STILLMAN COLLEGE STUDENT UNION BUILDING 4. NATIONAL ALUMNI HEADQUARTERS 5. SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) 6. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND OUTREACH 7. FISCAL HEALTH OF STILLMAN COLLEGE

1. DEVELOPING SERVANT LEADERS In 1875, Dr. Charles Allen Stillman led a group of Tuscaloosa Presbyterians in petitioning the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to establish a school to train African American ministers. In 1876, the General Assembly gave Dr. Stillman the authority to establish the school. Since its inception, Stillman College has developed servant leaders. While the educational program has changed and expanded, this original mission of developing servant leaders has (or should have) remained constant. This original mission is aligned with the Christian principle of serving humanity:

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13

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The serving of others represents the greatest utilization of education. Servant leaders focus on identifying and meeting the needs of others and typically have the following traits:

Desire to champion a cause

Ability to inspire others

Ability to listen to others

Foresight

Empathy

Strong sense of stewardship

Ability to facilitate Healing

Commitment to the growth of others

Awareness of their environment

Commitment to community

Ability to persuade others Just as Stillman performed the function of developing servant leaders at its inception, so

should Stillman perform this function in the future. It is not enough to develop leaders that rise to the top of their professions. If the leader is not concerned with the plight and needs of others, what is their education really worth? The development of servant leaders is what separates Stillman from other institutions of higher learning. This was the mission that sustained at its beginning and it is the mission that can carry her to new heights. Beyond reading, writing, mathematics, critical thinking skills, proficiency with technology, proficiency in communicating orally, and an ability to understand team dynamics and collaborative work environments, servant leaders work to make lives of the people within their sphere of influence better. Servant leaders have a worldview and are able to think globally about problems and act locally: a teacher that tutors children beyond their job; a physician that volunteers at a clinic or becomes part of an organization such as Doctors Without Borders; a business woman that invests her wealth in improving the human condition. These are all examples of the types of servant leaders Stillman College has produced in the past and should commit its efforts to produce in the future.

2. RECRUITMENT, PERSISTENCE, AND GRADUATION Recruitment, persistence, and graduation are inextricably linked to one another. Many schools have yet to discover this or more likely, have no clue as to how to ensure that they are synergized. For a student to engage a vibrant, encouraging, and positive admissions staff during the 17

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spring and summer only to arrive on campus in the fall and become confronted with a less-than helpful financial aid office, or worse, a hostile and rude housing staff is a sure recipe for disaster. The reasons given by researchers and scholars for low recruitment, persistence, and graduation rates are many. There is no one authority on the matter. However, most people in the academy agree, the reasons are institution specific, often go on for years without redress, has been the end of many college administrations, and can mean the end of an institution if corrective measures are not taken. If the reasons for low recruitment, persistence, and graduation rates at Stillman have not yet been investigated, this should be the first order of business for the next administration. Discovery of the causes will allow for crafting of the solutions Organizational clarity, clarity about the mission, vision, and purpose of the institution places everyone (trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alums, and friends of the College) on the same boat, rowing in the same direction. With everyone focused on the same mission, vision, and purpose, efforts become synergized. No longer is the faculty working in their silos or the staff and administration working in theirs. The key to achieving success is to provide the leadership and the healthy institutional environment in which this synergy can occur. Involving everyone in creating the solutions ensures buy-in from the very people that must implement the solutions. The goals I have in mind for Stillman with regard to recruitment, persistence, and graduation rates include: •

100% Student Residence Hall Occupancy

95% Freshman Persistence Rate

95% Graduation Rate

90% Four-Year Graduation Rate

These rates are among the highest in the academy. My professional philosophy is that if we are not the best, then we still have work to do. We should always work on constantly improving. While these are goals that I have contemplated, I must reiterate that the creation of the solutions must include everyone. Since all constituencies have a role to play in the implementation of the solution, they all should have a voice in the creation of the solutions.

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3. STILLMAN COLLEGE STUDENT UNION BUILDING While the physical plant of Stillman College stands above there is one element that requires attention. The current Hay College Center is a mix of student services with limited student activities. A dedicated building (whether it is the current Hay College Center or a new facility) is warranted that is wholly devoted to student recreation and socialization. This building will complete the sense of place for students and go far to make firm the perception of Stillman College as a studentcentered institution.

4. NATIONAL ALUMNI HEADQUARTERS The presence of a national alumni headquarters on campus provides Stillman with several advantages: •

Place for alumni to gather and host meetings

Place from which alumni can launch programs that enhance Stillman

Focal point for future fundraising efforts

Stillman should not incur any debts in the construction of a national alumni headquarters and should work in concert with the National Alumni Association to raise the necessary funds.

5. SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) Despite the clarion call from industry, graduate schools, and the United States government about the need for well-qualified STEM graduates, undergraduate institutions have yet to adequately respond. Reinforcing, enhancing, and expanding Stillman’s STEM curricula will place the College in position to prepare these well-qualified graduates. Furthermore, it will place Stillman in a position to compete for the available federal and foundation dollars that are available in the STEM fields. Upgrade of the current laboratories and expansion of STEM degree offerings to include Chemistry, Physics, and other STEM related fields are needed. This expansion should include research, expansion into translation research and applied degree programs, and the incorporation of trans-disciplinary activities.

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6. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND OUTREACH In the past, Stillman College has committed itself to improving the lives of the residents of West Alabama. This should continue and expand. Community partnerships are seen as a way to continued prosperity among members of the academy. Forming partnerships with communities throughout West Alabama will become mutually beneficial and provide opportunities for our students to become servant leaders. Institutions of higher education across the country have successfully formed these types of partnerships to address health and wellness, education, economic and community development, etc. The opportunities for Stillman in this regard are great and if approached correctly may lead to a Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Elective Classification.

7. FISCAL HEALTH OF STILLMAN COLLEGE Like the vast majority of small liberal arts colleges, Stillman continues to be heavily reliant upon tuition for its operational budget. This is likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. Each section of this prospectus was written with that in mind. Within this document I have addressed: •

Creating a cohesive leadership team

Establishing organizational clarity and operational unity

Ensuring that the institution is flexible and agile

Constantly improving

Increased recruitment and persistence rates

Increased student satisfaction

Establishing educational and community partnerships

Addressing each of these issues ultimately leads to increases in the top revenue source for the College: tuition dollars. The underlying ethos of this document is to achieve VICTORY for Stillman. This cannot happen without improvement in Stillman’s fiscal health (i.e. improved credit rating, effective and efficient management of the budget, increases in cash flow, diversification of revenue sources, increasing the endowment, control of the tuition discount rate, reduction of shortterm and long-term debt, etc.). Following the path outlined in this prospectus will lead to improvement in the fiscal health of the College. Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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FINAL THOUGHTS Finally, please consider that I have written this document from the outside looking in and that I am not privy to all of the facts on the ground. Often times however, an outside perspective can be illuminating and I suspect that I am not far off in my estimation of what will bring VICTORY for Stillman. The ideas and proposals within are based on my experience in higher education, best practices that I have employed, or my observations. Writing this document has been a joy for me because it gave me the chance to reminisce as well as envision the bright future awaiting Stillman College.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.� -Socrates

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Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014


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Dr. Lee Allen Aggison, Jr. May 2014

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The Art of Leadership