As the UO Leadership Academy enters its second year, it will continue to explore core assumptions of what it means to be a leader with its 2019-20 class.
“Ultimately, we hope that the academy can help shift the mentality that leadership is simply a positional designation,” said Chris Esparza, director of diversity, inclusion and leadership development at the UO School of Law and one of the academy’s organizers. “We hope the academy can help reinforce an institutional culture that frames leadership as inclusive, service-oriented and transformational.”
The academy is a leadership development program for mid- and senior-level officers of administration and faculty members. The program operates under the belief that the integration of diverse backgrounds, identity characteristics and life experiences is valuable to enhancing group effectiveness and learning.
“One of the things I love most about this year’s cohort is that it includes leaders from different parts of campus, such as athletics, finance, research and innovation, academic advising, general counsel, and student life, as well as faculty from almost every school and college,” said Sierra Dawson, associate vice president of academic affair and an organizer of the academy. “As we learn alongside one another, we are better understanding how each person uniquely contributes to the university’s mission.”
The idea for the academy was first proposed following several senior leadership hires during the 2015-16 academic year that lacked diverse applicant pools. On the recommendation of a group of campus leaders, Provost Jayanth Banavar and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh established the academy to provide visibility, mentorship and leadership training opportunities for faculty members and OAs as a way to grow diverse and talented leaders within the university.
“I am deeply appreciative of the investment our university leaders, in particular the provost and vice president for equity and inclusion, are making in this program,” said Jennifer Espinola, dean of students at the law school and an academy organizer. “I believe there are serious discussions taking place within and around this program about elevating and diversifying the leadership capacity of our community. These are important conversations and I am encouraged by what is taking place.”
To accomplish this, the academy provides participants with opportunities to learn from the scholarship of leadership and personal growth, while providing participants with an environment in which they can learn from others across different backgrounds and disciplines.
The academy meets once a month for an academic year, participating in leadership development and self-reflection activities. This collaborative environment allows members participants to understand and improve their own leadership style while fostering a community of like-minded leaders on campus.
“I have really enjoyed this unusual blend of leadership skill-building, self-actualization and networking,” said Nancy Cheng, associate professor, head of the Department Architecture and a member of the academy’s 2018-19 class. “The lively monthly workshops reinforce research-based concepts through hands-on activities about applying them locally. Brainstorming with peers who play varied roles across the university has been especially valuable.”
For the academy’s second class, organizers hope to continue to develop and make visible the diverse leaders who will ensure the UO is a place where all faculty members, staff and students can reach their full potential.
Applications for the 2019-20 class are currently open and close on Jan. 11. To apply or learn more about the academy, visit the Office of the Provost website.