November 18, 2016
Peter Dorhout moderates session at Association of Public and Land Grant Universities annual meeting
Peter Dorhout, vice president for research, moderated "Leadership Development for a More Diverse and Capable Leadership Pool" at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities annual meeting earlier this month in Austin, Texas. Panelists included April Mason, provost and senior vice president; Lisa Mink, founder and principal, Mink Enterprise Group; and G. Dale Wesson, vice president for research and economic development at Virginia State University.
Panelists addressed the differences between typical trajectories to senior leadership in academia and the private sector. In academia, development of leadership skills is generally done through learning "on the job," whereas in industry, senior leadership is groomed for an extended period of time.
The association's Council on Research conducted a survey of the offices of the vice president for research this past year, which revealed trends in the demographics of the top leadership. Most vice presidents for research have had careers in science or engineering, and most are white males. Moreover, the majority of respondents had been a faculty member or academic leader at the same institution where they are currently leading the research enterprise. The lack of leadership development and absence of diversity among senior academic leaders in research is not surprising given these trends.
Dorhout said the session was a popular one despite being scheduled against several social events in the early evening.
"The session was standing room only, filled with academic leaders who want to increase diversity on their campuses and who recognize the challenges universities face in helping leaders develop," Dorhout said. "People recognize that this challenge is not just for our HR offices; it is a challenge that belongs to all of us."
The session was co-organized by Dorhout along with Sheena Murphy, associate vice president for research at West Virginia University; Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research at Oklahoma State; and Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president for research at the University of Rhode Island.
"Sharing best practices of how academia and industry provide mentoring and training can help universities take advantage of or build programs to support the development of leaders. I appreciated the lively conversation, which ran well beyond the posted time of the session," Dorhout said.