Q&A

Q&A with Dr. Shannon McMurtrey – Cybersecurity expert comes to Drury

Dr. Shannon McMurtrey comes to Drury this fall after 15 years teaching at Missouri State University. Dr. McMurtrey is a well-respected expert in the fields of both higher education and cybersecurity. McMurtrey will head the newly created Cybersecurity Leadership Certificate Program, and will bring his expertise to other courses in Drury’s Breech School of Business curriculum as well. As he enters the classroom environment at Drury, we asked him to tell us about his background and why a liberal arts university is such a good fit for a teacher in the tech field.

Question: What’s your background in this field?

Answer: “I started working in the industry while I was an undergraduate student, doing custom development for companies here in Springfield, which eventually evolved into us creating a shopping cart program in 1996. That company – Cart32.com – still exists, primarily as a payment gateway. From there, I was invited to teach a software development class at Missouri State. That’s where I discovered I had a love for teaching and felt like I had a future in the classroom. I shifted to focusing on education full time in 2003 and have been teaching since then.”

Shannon McMurtrey

How do you stay connected to the industry and up to date?

“One of the challenges in this field is just keeping current. One of the ways we did that at Cart32 was to study what the hackers were doing. We went to chat rooms and forums and just learned their techniques. We felt the best defense was to at least understand what the offense was doing. So I’ve always tried to stay current on hacking techniques. Today, it’s such a huge field that there are all kinds of really good classes and trainings that you can participate in. So I also attend those kinds of classes and maintain industry certifications to stay current.”

What do you love about teaching?

“I love seeing that light bulb go off. When I first started teaching programming I noticed that I connected with the students who were struggling but really wanted to learn. As long as they had that desire to learn it really ignited in me that desire to teach. And I just really like that. I enjoy seeing the same passion that I have for this industry in students as they learn and grow. I just truly enjoy that.”

What has attracted you to Drury and our way of doing things here?

“You know, it’s exactly that. It’s the focus on the student and the excellence in teaching. There seems to be a real appreciation for excellence in the classroom and for connecting with students. That’s what attracted me to teaching to begin with. So I think being in an environment where that skill is highly valued will challenge me to continue to get better as a teacher and do better in the classroom, so that environment is very challenging to me.”

How will you bring your cybersecurity expertise into the classroom at Drury and how will you incorporate it into the business curriculum?

“Students will see it in the current courses such as the management information systems course at the undergraduate level and one that’s currently part of the MBA program. I will definitely be incorporating cybersecurity into those courses to help students appreciate the role they play in cybersecruity. I think that’s something that a lot of businesses are starting to wake up to, is the lack of leadership in that area. So helping future business professionals understand their role in cybersecurity is something I’m very passionate about.”

Are you a business teacher or a computer science teacher?

“It’s a great question. When earning my undergraduate degree, I started off in computer information systems. But I changed it to marketing because I realized it was going to be more important for me to learn what business leaders needed from their systems as opposed to learning how to create the systems, because programming languages change and technology changes. As soon as you learn one language it’s almost outdated. I feel it’s more important for people in our field to understand business and the need that businesses have to seek competitive advantages. How can we use technology in a strategic way for competitive advantage? So I think I would consider myself certainly more of a business teacher that leverages technology.”

Business and technology certainly overlap. But why come to a liberal arts institution to teach them?

“One of the dangers we have in our field is that if you focus exclusively on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – you run the danger of creating robots. But embedding that into a liberal arts education is really appealing to me. Some of the most creative solutions in software and cybersecurity, really anywhere in technology, come from artists, to be honest with you – people who have interests beyond technology. They tend to be artists or painters; they tend to be very creative people. One of the things that really attracts me to this field is the diversity of the people involved in this profession.”

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Getting to Know Drury’s 18th President: Part 4 – Innovation & Growth at Hendrix

dr-cloyd-ffdIn an effort to better get to know Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd, we are publishing a Q&A series with Drury’s 18th President. Previous editions focused on the selection process, Dr. Cloyd’s early life, and his passion for teaching and learning. This installment focuses on some of the more notable accomplishments of his 13-year run as president of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. In particular, his experience with creating and implementing strategic institutional positioning. 

A major point of pride for Hendrix is The Odyssey program, which you helped create. It helped elevate the school’s national profile and became a defining part of the student experience there. Tell us how it came about.

The answer emerged from the question, “How do you measure the distinctiveness, impact, and attractiveness of an institution of higher learning?” I mean in terms of the whole university and the experience students have inside and outside of the classroom at that particular university as opposed to others. In Hendrix’s case, a liberal arts college, and in Drury’s case, a liberal arts university for the 21st century.

Odyssey was about establishing distinctiveness and a clear value added of the experience every student would have, that would be made real in tangible, visible ways, and in which every faculty member and student would participate. It was about how to create a compelling institutional differentiation when students face so many choices.

By definition this meant that the kind of experience we offered every student was real, clearly signaled to students and the world, defining of the experience across the institution, and required for academic credit, guaranteeing every student a unique credential. It came with funding both in the form of distinction awards (a unique form of financial aid) for every student and in the form of funding for Odyssey qualified experiences for students and for faculty working with those students.

When we created Odyssey, we faced declining enrollments and revenue and a budget shortfall that was only projected to grow. The state of Arkansas eliminated the Governor’s scholarship that affected 240 full-pay students in one year. In addition, unparalleled private funding at the University of Arkansas provided “free rides” to students in our traditional markets.

We had to be decisive, bold, and take action. This was not a question of having better marketing or of working harder on recruitment. We knew we could not compete with state schools on price (how do you compete with free?), we knew we could not compete with larger institutions with greater resources on the basis of the breadth and the commodification of our offerings, majors, and programs nor could we cut ourselves into prosperity. We could never stand up enough offerings, majors, programs, etc., at their price points to be competitive.

We had already dramatically cut costs, implemented lean process designs, and reduced expenses, and cut positions. In time, however, we recognized this would only gut our departments and programs, would do lasting damage to our quality, and undermine the institutional sense of community that were our hallmarks. In addition, we recognized that the message this would send into the market would harm our brand. When a higher education institution implements austerity it cannot control its message and competitors for students and donors use it against you.

The answer was to impact the top line by drawing on our collective ingenuity, ability to innovate, and willingness to change. “Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning” was the program’s official name.

Faculty fleshed out the program and made it real so that it was not just a high-level marketing concept. The result was a well researched, well thought out positioning platform that became a well executed strategic deliverable. It became what we as an institution were known for – it became our value differentiation. It was critical to our success because we had to compete on the value of the experience we offered not the price or the specific offerings. We knew we had no price or discount elasticity. This meant that if we wanted to increase student head count we had to increase our discount driving marginal net revenue per student down. We could not discount enough to increase revenue on volume.

There was positive impact on a number of key drivers: the number of students that applied; the number of students who enrolled; our ability to draw different students from a broader geographic region; our ability to raise our price to more accurately reflect our value and achieve our enrollment goals by more aggressive aid awards and financial support; and our ability to maintain or increase enrollment from our current markets.

Communicating this approach required significant investments in marketing so that students would understand two things – our real value proposition and our increased financial aid and scholarship program – and it had the effect of driving up applications in Arkansas, but more importantly from out-of-state urban target markets. It also required start-up and implementation investments by the board and donors. Finally, it required us to “hard-launch” the new position all at once instead of incrementally implementing the value difference.

At the highest level we did a number of things: at the core we positioned ourselves as a demanding, rigorous, but supportive academic environment, in which every student engaged in experiential, hands-on learning grounded in the liberal arts and sciences for academic credit. We guaranteed that every student would receive transcript recognition and credentials for following their passion and completing hands-on projects. Implicit in this guarantee was the idea that students would develop marketable competencies conferred by the institution and recognized by the market. We also did a number of other things such as making sciences and technology more connected to and grounded in the liberal arts.

So how did the program actually work?

In order to graduate, every student was required to complete three hands-on learning projects from six different categories: undergraduate research; service to the world; global/cross cultural awareness and understanding; professional and internship experiences; artistic or creative projects; or a special customized project. Each of these and the requirements for completion was defined in very specific, academically rigorous ways.

We gave each student academic credit for the three projects they selected and added an annotated description of the projects to their transcript. We required students to have a faculty or staff mentor for the project, to present a proposal for approval for each of the projects complete with expected learning outcomes, and to present the project outcomes in a public forum. Every student was also given, at a minimum, a $1,000 one-time grant for one of the projects.

The reality was that 75 percent of our students were already doing at least two of these types of projects and that a number of courses, because of the hands-on nature of the teaching and learning in that class, qualified automatically for Odyssey credit. So in many ways we were codifying something organic that we already had been doing and that was in our culture.

Several things were, however, radical and unique. The first, of course, was that every student was required to complete these three projects to graduate. This meant that the Odyssey ethos was defining and universal for every student, giving the academic experience coherence. All students received transcript recognition and a credential for completing each project. This helped to make students more attractive in the job market, in competition for national fellowships and scholarships, and in application for graduate and professional school.

One other very important note is that we built in financial support and incentives for students and faculty to create exciting and innovative hands-on experiences. Eventually, we raised an endowment of about $15 million for the Odyssey Grants Program. Students could apply on their own or in groups, or faculty members working with a group of students could apply for grant funding to support projects. We created 12 Odyssey Professorships that, unlike endowed chairs, rotated every three years. This funded hands-on experiences, travel, salary stipends, etc. All of this created an entrepreneurial spirit on campus as students learned how to develop grant proposals, business plans and such.

Finally, we created a new form of financial aid – The Odyssey Distinction Award – which was a four-year award not based on merit or need, but based on a student’s gifts, talents, and passions.

The ultimate results? In the second year, our freshman class increased by 43 percent and over three years our net revenue grew by 52 percent. We grew from 950 students to 1,500 students over four years.

Why did Odyssey resonate with faculty, students, and prospective students?

It was distinctive, differentiating, and offered a clear value. It allowed students to pursue their passions in a hands-on fashion, to earn a credential such as a certificate, and receive in academic transcript recognition for their projects. It allowed them to be creative and to learn in new ways. The faculty made the positioning real and it gave them an opportunity to rejuvenate through new modes of teaching and to experiment with new ways of learning. Technology was also a key to the success of Odyssey, as students learned and put to use digital knowledge they had on projects and created digital portfolios. Faculty also learned to use and put new technologies to work in teaching. It was a positioning defined by what John Dewey called the “pragmatic liberal arts” taking thought in the classroom into the world and bringing it back again.

I think it helped to make those core virtues of the liberal arts and sciences real – learning to learn; critical and analytical thinking; learning to solve puzzles; looking at problems and issues through a variety of lenses and realizing that more than one solution may be right; learning to communicate in all forms written, verbal etc.; learning that solutions and the world are more often gray than black and white. It combined these virtues with virtuosity – technical and other competencies.

Do you think that Odyssey might have some relevance to or relate to strategies for Drury University?

In so far as offering some readymade template, I think the answer is no. But in thinking about where Drury is and the process of going about positioning Drury I think the answer is yes.

We need to understand that we must compete on the basis of differentiation, value, and the distinctiveness of the student experience and how we offer and teach what we do. We cannot win by competing on the basis of price and the breadth of our offerings alone. We have to compete on value. And that has to be made real in some way.

I think it is critically important that we look to what is universally defining as well as value enhancing to the experience for every Drury student.

In my reading of Drury’s history and in my admittedly short time here I have picked up on a number of themes and past trends that may hold promise for this kind of value differentiation and market positioning platform. In 1940, for example, President Findlay eliminated many of the required courses and put in place a program that offered each student a personalized, customized educational plan. Both faculty and staff offered intensive advising and mentoring to help students design these plans. In the mid-1990s President Moore, Dr. Stephen Good, and the faculty introduced GP-21. This series of core courses allowed every student to earn a minor in Global Studies and this was placed on their transcripts and their diplomas. These are both examples of the type of differentiation and distinctiveness I am talking about. They were universal and defining of the student experience at Drury.

There is a tremendous institutional heritage and particular areas of excellence that could hold Drury University together in a positive, defining way. It seems to me that our message and our identity should not become diffuse or disaggregated – with various programs and schools going their own way – because we would fail to leverage our institutional core identity and our particular strengths. Instead, we must again rise to the occasion, align institutional incentives, and leverage the institution’s ability to advance a positioning with the coherence and relevance to attract the students we all need in the day school, graduate college and CCPS.

In conversations with Drury students and faculty I have heard a number of resonant themes, characteristics, and values that have piqued my interest as I think about the issue of differentiation and distinctiveness for Drury, the overall positioning platform for the university – its offerings, and the potential for particular peaks of excellence.

I have been on the job for only about two weeks, so I imagine that there are many more concepts that are already organic to Drury, but there are at least a few that jump out at me already. Things like the fact that so many Drury students have two and three majors, which creates a degree combination unique to their passions. I’ve been struck by the fact that there’s such a strong desire among our students and faculty to address real-world problems locally, nationally and globally. The potential to strengthen the quality and nature of our advising and mentoring is another such area. Finally, there are possibilities in rethinking the approach we take across the university to the way we approach teaching and learning.

Those are just a few examples. All of these could hold promise in moving Drury University forward. Whatever we may do it will need to be collaborative and connect to the themes I outlined in my first speech to the community – Empowerment, Unity, and Liberty. We plan to move rapidly, engaging the right resources, testing the results and channeling our energy toward these points of differentiation and value.

You helped bring an international flavor to Hendrix. Can you tell us about some of those programs?

The most important thing I did was to make multi-cultural awareness, diversity, inclusion, and the free expression of ideas a top priority. Then I provided the resources for people to develop these and other new opportunities for students. I would be happy to discuss how I helped to create this range of new international programs, but it also had to do with me personally modeling the commitment to internationalism by travelling to establish many of these bi-lateral and multi-lateral programs. I also served on the International Student Exchange Program Board and the board of an NGO called Bridge to Rwanda.

What is the Village at Hendrix? How did that change the nature and feel of the campus?

We found part of our difficulty in recruiting students was that our campus did not have the feel of a place with an active vibrant social life. This was because many students went home for the weekend and because the downtown was too far away from campus for students to readily take advantage of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, etc. Students in this generation want a bit of an “xurban” feel to campus. We did not have a Cambridge Square and many of our faculty had moved to Little Rock or out into the Conway suburbs.

We bought land around us and we were fortunate that we had about 180 acres across from the main campus. So we hired Andres Duany and DPZ, who are world-class town and campus planners. The board decided to invest in developing a Village across the street from the campus and we were able to get federal, state, and city funds to redesign the road between the development and campus.

It is a long story and I learned more about how to be a real-estate developer than I ever imagined. I encourage you to go online and look at what we created. In addition, to the new urban style housing (625 homes and dwellings when all phases are complete) we built three large buildings around a village green, developed plans for a hotel, built live-work units (where people live upstairs from a business) and apartments as liner buildings around parking lots. We also developed a storm drainage flood system into something called the Hendrix Creek Preserve. The Hendrix Creek Preserve became an outdoor classroom to test ground water run-off for organic and heavy metal toxins and a sustainability model.

The village center buildings have on the first floors restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, commercial, etc. and on the top three floors apartments and flats that we used for student housing. We built them, however, so that the top floors could be flipped into the open market or could be used as timeshares and sold as condominiums. We did this because in our analysis we realized that 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring each day for the next 19 years! Think about that! Most of these folks from the north want to move south for at least part of the year and the vast majority want to live next to a college or university campus instead of on a golf course. This is the generation that came of age in the 1950s and 1960s and they are looking for a sense of meaning and all of the amenities offered by a campus. They want to be around young people. Many of them are capable of teaching university courses, especially co-curricular courses.

Our strategy was to target certain populations such as scientists, doctors, artists, etc. and invite them to come teach courses on “how to run a medical practice” and such, knowing that our pre-med students would be top flight in the sciences, but may not know the first thing about balance sheets, P&L statements, insurance reimbursement, Medicare or Medicaid, or the Affordable Care Act.

All in all, it has been extremely successful. It had the effect of changing the feel of the entire campus. We regarded it as a 100-year investment in our future – that was key. It was an investment in the quality of the student experience. These ideas drove the investment decisions and in our arrangement with joint-venture investors, not short-term ROI on capital investment, but patient capital.

Hendrix saw unprecedented success in fundraising and development during your tenure – $175 million in all. How did it happen? How do we lay the groundwork for future advancement at Drury?

The $175 million figure refers to two comprehensive campaigns. The first raised $75 million for two new science buildings, and endowment for scholarships and financial aid, academic programs, faculty chairs, housing, and a number of other projects.

The second campaign raised around $103 million for: housing; the Village at Hendrix; a new wellness and athletic center, aquatic center, all new athletic and intramural fields and a tennis center; a student life and technology center; endowment for scholarships and financial aid; funding for endowed chairs and Odyssey Professorships; an endowment for the Odyssey Program to fund Odyssey Projects; an endowment for middle income scholarships and financial aid; some renovations; and a sharply increased annual fund.

The second campaign was an eight-year effort. Drury has not had a comprehensive campaign and I would like to explore with donors, the alumni, the board, and the community whether or not we want to engage in such an effort. Drury has had a series of successful single project campaigns.

The objective for comprehensive campaigns is to connect all of the priority fundraising projects (capital projects, building projects, endowment, and annual fund goals) to the overall differentiation of the institution and to increase the overall campaign momentum through participation and the magnitude of results. You define these specific projects and priorities, cultivate prospects for gifts for these specific projects, and connect to their passions. In reality, there are always particular donors who have other specific passions and interests and of course you welcome those gifts for the express purpose for which they are given, but those, too, are reflected in the aggregate success of the institution’s overall effort.

The goal is to mobilize the entire institution – the family of alumni, donors, friends, board members, and the community – around the strategic priorities. The overarching theme is most impactful if it is directly supportive of the overall market positioning platform of the university, and if it taps into the collective passions and priorities held by those who love and care for the institution.

At Drury, for example, we have a database of 26,000 with about 16,000 alumni. At Hendrix we had a much smaller base with a total of about 14,000 alumni and donors. The strength of our Drury alumni population coupled with the great love of institution and the history of accomplishment are very encouraging.

One of my strongest desires as president is to understand more deeply and clearly the motivating passions of our alumni and donors, and to help shape a plan for our future that honors and increases active engagement. I want to build those bonds. I want us to create a magnetism around Drury that is powerful and undeniable. That feeling must be strong enough to compel the support we need for this institution to carry out its mission successfully, and well into the future.

Hendrix eventually earned national acclaim. The higher education landscape is so crowded. How do institutions stand out?

Be fearless. Be bold. Be proud. Have confidence. Do not be afraid to take calculated risks even while others are not. Know your story. Project and signal your value and differentiation in all you do. Tell the story over and over again about how you are transforming students’ lives by what you are doing and how you are doing it. And finally, do not let the voices of the timid pull you down, but have audacity.

Getting to Know Drury’s 18th President: Part 3 – Scholarship & Leadership

Cloyd speaking smallIn an effort to better get to know Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd, we are publishing a Q&A series about his selection and the man himself. The first installment featured a conversation with search committee members about the selection and vetting process, and the second featured a look at Dr. Cloyd’s early life. In this installment, we discuss his love for the classroom, his passion for scholarship and what the study of international politics and political theory can teach us about leadership and leading a university. Future conversations in this series are forthcoming.

You’ve told us how much you enjoyed diving into academics as a student. Did you find similar joy once you were in the classroom as a teacher?

I went to graduate school because of my love of learning, the passion I have for my discipline, and the influence professors have had on my life. I wanted the honor of having that same kind of influence on the lives of students. I still feel teaching is my vocation – my calling. I just do it in a different way in the academic presidency. There is not a major in “presidenting.” The education I have had in the liberal arts and the variety of experiences I have had in higher education are perfect for being a president or a college professor.

I love to teach. I first got into the classroom in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was a great training ground for honing my craft and style of pedagogy. I not only taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in smaller classes in the honors program and in large lecture halls, but I taught in the Five College Program in which UMass Amherst partnered with four small liberal arts schools: Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Hampshire College. There I learned how to use a number of techniques to teach – in small groups, tutorials, having students learn by teaching. I also learned to teach students at all kinds of academic levels.

Over the years I have continued to learn new approaches to teaching. For example, I begin every class with “check-in” – each of us go around the room and say what is going on in our life and then we agree to put our thoughts on hold during the class period. Sometimes I use picture cards of all sorts of objects and scenes and ask students to talk about the topic of the day through the object or scene they have selected.

Because students today often tend to think in 140 characters – the length of a tweet – sometimes I assign students a micro-moment in which they have to summarize the topic for the class like a tweet. New media and new technologies have really opened an exciting world to me for teaching. I think all college and university faculty members need have the development opportunities and the resources to use these new technologies in their teaching. We are often afraid to try these new things mostly because we are afraid to admit what we do not know how to do, especially in front of our students. That is why schools need faculty Teaching and Development centers where technology experts and digital librarians can teach us without students looking on!

In what ways have you used new technologies in your classes?

I say “new” technologies because they are new to me, but not to this generation of techno-natives. I am just a techno-immigrant and sometimes techno-ignorant.

Here are some of the ways I have been using technology in my courses. First, I try to create web pages for each one of my courses and provide links to digital video and music content, podcasts, TED talks, and other things I use in class by asking students to watch them or listen to them before class. Those materials can then drive class discussion. I also use something called lecture capture, iTunes lectures, and open source online lectures. Lecture capture allows me to give a talk about something that is digitally captured so students can view it before class – that way class time is not just didactic, but discussion- and team-based. I used to have this presentation I loved to give on World War I, but I found one that Michael Howard, a world-class historian from Oxford, gives online. So now I just have students watch that and we do things like virtual or game simulations based on escalating conflicts in class. I also like to provide class notes online and let students take photos of the white board and chalkboard in class. There are so many fun and innovative things that can be done in teaching using technology. I could go on and on.

Consider this: by the time my son was 13 his room looked like command control at NASA, in fact it probably had better technology than the technology at NASA in the 1980s. His technology interactions were dynamic; he was connected globally playing games with other kids in teams around the world, and now at 16 his games are fast first-person perspective and 3D. In teaching we have to move to where our students are or at least meet them halfway.

Recently, I have become very interested in the growing distinction between online education and emerging HD virtual presence instructional technology. The term “online” is becoming passé. I hope I can bring virtual presence instruction to Drury and make us a “any device, anywhere, anytime” campus.

What are your favorite courses to teach and why?

Wow. Difficult question. I teach a course called Irregular Warfare. I love teaching that course because we cover everything in that area: from theories and strategies of insurgency/counter-insurgency; the use of drones, drone technology, drone targeting, and the domestic use of drones; the complexity of a world of nation-states in conflict with non-state violent actors; the way terrorism/counter-terrorism work; and new and emerging – almost futuristic – technologies being deployed in waging war and in conflicts. But we also explore questions of ethics in war and questions about how these issues are having an impact on questions of democracy and civil liberties in our growing national security state in the United States.

I also like teaching courses in topics and trends in contemporary politics, business, and security where I teach things like cyber security, big data analytics, new media connectivity, and human terrain mapping. In these courses we study how these topics relate to things like privacy, civil liberties, changing markets, property rights, and leadership decisions. In cyber security, for example, we study cyber-crime, cyber-espionage, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-war. The key issues are attacks that involve confidentiality and the theft of intellectual property, denial-of-service attacks, and protecting the integrity of data, data systems, and resilience. These areas of study require a multidisciplinary approach because without knowledge grounded in different disciples you cannot understand the issues in a comprehensive way. We study WikiLeaks, Stuxnet, zero-day vulnerabilities, and we even toy around with The Onion Router. We also study how big data and the use of algorithms is shaping everything from business strategies in marketing to fundraising strategies to higher education marketing.

How did you become a Fellow at the Institute for the Study of World Politics? What was involved in that assignment?

I was doing research on leadership and cooperation in international relations. Mainly, about how leaders and states developed collaboration and cooperation and built, grew, and sustained organizational cultures in international security institutions. My case study was a classified organization in Paris called the Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) through which Western states prevented the diffusion of strategic and dual-use highly sophisticated technology to the Soviet Bloc and rouge states. I was asked to work with a DOD office called the Defense Technology Security Agency. So the fellowship from The Institute for the Study of World Politics funded my living and working all over Europe. I spent time interviewing bureaucrats and leaders in Western European countries about the work, focus, and effectiveness of the international organization.

I learned a great deal about organizational culture, about how to listen and ask questions, about diplomacy and how to adapt my style and approach depending on the situation, and about how to quickly orient myself in diverse human environments. I also worked with intelligence agents and people from NATO and the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Command. Basically, we were looking at companies and states that were violating the export control system and countries that were converting the technologies they had imported into military applications. It was a chaotic time in Europe with the Wall coming down so there were a lot of treaty agreement and export control license violations.

How did your early experiences at Vanderbilt University shape your views about higher education, including fundraising?

Vanderbilt gave me a great opportunity to learn about how a university works. I started out teaching in the political science department and ended up working for the provost and then in Vanderbilt’s first comprehensive capital campaign. The experience at Vanderbilt taught me how prestige is the ultimate currency in higher education; it taught me how to work with faculty from across various disciplines, colleges, and schools; and it taught me that one of the primary values for faculty is autonomy.

I worked on developing a university-wide, cross-disciplinary certificate program where undergraduate and graduate students across all disciplines could take a series of courses from any department in the university to earn this certificate that was attached to their transcript. This meant I had to get buy-ins from deans and faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Law, The Divinity School, The School of Business, The College of Medicine, and other schools and centers across the university.

It was hard work. But in the end it paid off. Our work laid the foundation for a program, a center, and a major that now exist at Vanderbilt called Medicine, Health, and Society. It is an interdisciplinary field of research, study, and practice that critically examines the social foundations of health. Students learn about health-related beliefs and practices in their political, social, and cultural contexts. The program brings together and integrates teaching and scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences in order to teach students how to approach questions from multiple perspectives. As part of the program, we organized a number of conferences on topics such as the politics of the human body.

I also learned about the challenges of coordinating and integrating initiatives and programs across schools, colleges, and departments in a university. I learned about how costs are driven up and inefficiencies are created because every college wants to do its own decentralized thing.

In addition, in higher education we have not yet learned how to incentivize or to recognize and reward faculty for cross-disciplinary work. While solutions to the world’s problems require the perspectives of multiple disciplines, we tend to silo knowledge.

My work at Vanderbilt reinforced my belief in the importance of creating student experiences that develop competence in a team-based, problem-to-solution orientation from multiple perspectives. This could be multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary. But what it means is that colleges and schools in a university have to be interwoven – and not just through the general education program.

As far as fundraising is concerned, I learned the importance of having not just a guiding strategic vision and theme that brings all of the component parts of a university together, but also actual programs that tie everything together. Donors will become more passionate and give more if they can see that they are making a contribution to the solution of a big world problem. They know that these problems and solutions are complex and cannot be solved by the education and scholarship offered by only one discipline or college. That is why fundraising campaigns for one-off projects, buildings, etc., produce fewer overall dollars and dissipate energy. We sometimes think of fundraising in terms of our own needs and the potential loyalty of our graduates. That is okay, but it is not as powerful as a vision.

Beginning in 1988 and continuing through 1997 you authored a dozen or so writings including a book, covering topics ranging from war to trade and the politics of the human body. Are they still topics of interest to you?

Yes, those topics still interest me and I return to them when I am asked to teach or to give a talk for example on war, insurgency, security, terrorism, or the politics of the body. The book Jean Bethke Elshtain and I edited and published with Vanderbilt University Press was called “Politics and the Human Body.” In that book, and in a study guide I published with Vanderbilt as well called “The Gulf War and Just War,” I was blessed to work with some of the leading scholars in the world.

More recently, however, I have been doing research, writing, and teaching on leadership, management, change, and market positioning particularly in higher education and nonprofits. This comes out of my academic work in business, higher education management, and of course my own experience. I have written and presented on “Leading Change,” “The Relationship Between Price, Discount, and Institutional Differentiation,” and “Marketing, Branding, and Positioning in Higher Education.” The book I am working on in leadership studies is about how leaders develop substance, fearlessness, dexterity, resilience and inner peace in the face of disruptive turbulence.

I have had a book contract with Johns Hopkins University Press for a work on “Arms and The Citizen: War Service, Conscription, and the American Experience” in which I reflect on the potential benefits to our nation of reinstituting conscription in some form and have been doing research on a project called “NATO’s Decline and the United States’ Pivot to the East: A Study of the Rise and Fall of Alliance Strategy.”

But I know I will not be getting back to those projects anytime soon! I plan to be very busy working for Drury.

Given your specialty in international relations and in political theory, what lessons from those fields are useful in leadership and in teaching leadership?

As far as teaching leadership is concerned, there is a great deal to be mined related to those disciplines. In the area of leadership studies and organizational behavior, I teach courses like the art and science of leadership; life narratives, discourse, and leadership; change and leadership; and transformational leadership. In those courses we use contemporary social science.

In Classics and Leadership we study the theories and lives of past great leaders and look for lessons. Certain questions emerge in studying these classics: whether or not leadership is a natural trait or is learned; whether or not a leader creates success or is it just a matter of the external environment and the willingness of followers to create success – followers create successful leaders; whether or not leadership success is defined by specific contexts and historical conditions and therefore there is no universal model for leadership, etc.

People often look to someone like Machiavelli in studying classics and leadership, but there are many other examples that provide different models. Thucydides in the Peloponnesian Wars gives us examples of the failures of leaders and of how heartless action comes back to haunt leaders. Alexander the Great shows us an example of leading from the front and instilling intense loyalty and trust by demonstrating competence, taking risks, treating people fairly, and innovating. Jesus and others provide us a model of servant leadership and show us that the powerful do not always win – that love and kindness can undermine hard power. Napoleon, Wellington, Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Lee, Churchill, Martin Luther King, and many others show us contrasting models of leadership. One key point is that none of these leaders was perfect. Each had flaws and often deep personal character weaknesses. The experience of failure, rejection, suffering, and overcoming terrible trials and self doubt is, I think, common to all great leaders.

Churchill once said, “Success is one failure after another without losing enthusiasm.” Unless you have been in the position of making consequential decisions for which you will be held accountable, or in a position where you and you alone will be held responsible for the success or failure of an organization over which you may, in fact, have very little authority, it will be difficult to understand the pressure and stress leaders must learn to live with. This is especially true today in our ultra-polarized environment on campuses and off. It is easier to criticize, protest, and deconstruct than it is to build something and to create a compelling vision that others follow and make real.

Many of the leaders we study were involved in war and conflict. Why does this teach us about leadership? Because it is an experience of great trial and human strife, but it is also about action, resolve, and resilience. Clausewitz said that any human interaction produces a “friction” to be overcome, a “fog” in which decisions must be made in the context of ambiguity, and the need for “audacity” to be decisive in action. But the classics also show the enduring truth that “hubris always brings nemeses” and that the wings of Icarus always eventually melt.

Read Part 4 of the Q&A series: Innovation & Growth at Hendrix

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Getting to Know Drury’s 18th President: Part 2 – Formative Years

In an effort to better get to know Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd, we are publishing a Q&A series about his selection and the man himself. The first installment featured a conversation with search committee members about the selection and vetting process. Now, we turn to Dr. Cloyd to ask him about his childhood and his early career in academics. Future conversations with the incoming president are forthcoming in this series.

Where did you grow up?

dr-cloydCloyd: I grew up in a lot of places. My parents were United Methodist missionaries and teachers in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), in a region called the Katanga. My family was evacuated from the Congo during the Katanga war for secession. We then moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation where my parents ran a boarding school called the United Methodist Mission School and an outpost on the reservation in the De-Na-Zin or in English Bisti. The school was between the towns of Farmington and Shiprock in New Mexico. There were 600 Navajo students who lived on-campus. They came mostly from the remote parts of the Navajo Reservation. I remember we used to get our clothes out of mission barrels and once a week we would haul water and supplies out into the De-Na-Zin.

The cultural shift from sub-Saharan Africa to the Navajo culture and landscape was dramatic. The older boys used to carry me around on their shoulders. I remember all of those guys. I learned a great deal about cultural differences and Navajo culture and language, the way of the Dine they called it, from those older students. I remember once I was pointing at something with my finger and one of my beloved “older brothers” (I called him “Big Daddy”) said to me, “Tim we don’t point with our finger, point with your chin.” From then on I pointed with my chin. I learned hundreds of other things from them about being quiet and listening – about how the human spirit is connected to the spiritual world – about Skinwalkers – about stopping and reading the cultural and human terrain – about nature and about honor and courage from the way that they lived their lives. Many of those boys who carried me on their shoulders volunteered for military service during Vietnam – they weren’t drafted – it was just part of their culture to volunteer just like the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II. A lot of them, too many of them, never came home.

When I was about 14 or so we moved back to my family’s ancestral home in middle Tennessee. I went to high school there and arrived just in time for the busing in the 1970s. It was so strange coming from the reservation and that school, where I was from a majority culture, but living as a minority, into an environment exploding with racial tension and an undercurrent of racism. So I grew up in a lot of places and learned from real experiences the reality and value of diversity in our country and the world.

What experiences in your early life would you point to as having the most profound influence on you? Any heroes?

That is hard to narrow down. First, was my memory of my father telling me the news that one of the Navajo boys I looked up to and loved was killed in Vietnam. It was hard. What was even more difficult for me was following the Navajo tradition of not ever speaking of the dead. So when an Arthur, a Begay, or a Manygoats (I am using last names) died I could no longer talk about them with other Navajos. That is just how it was.

Second, was seeing how my parents embraced Navajo culture and traditions. Both my parents and my sister are United Methodist ministers, but when my father took over the Mission School he started encouraging the Navajos to integrate their own practices and traditional religion into Christian services. Before then, the Navajos weren’t even allowed to speak Navajo at the school much less to live out their own faith tradition. I remember funerals that blended faith traditions – so there would be a casket, but it would be filled with all sorts of things that the person would need in the next life. My father would also take me to Navajo healing services where we would sit in a Hogan (a traditional Navajo home) for long periods of time in silence where medicine men would do sand paintings and sing to heal a person. One of my parent’s closest friends was a Creek medicine man named Harry Long. Every time we moved to a new house Harry would come and burn sweet grass, wave over it with an eagle feather, and sing in every room to cleanse the house. My younger sister was struck with a debilitating illness when she was around 13 and I remember my father calling Harry Long and some Navajo medicine men to come and sing over her. This shaped my perspective of my Christian faith as open and accepting – connecting with others through their own faith.

Third, was the fact that I grew up in a home that was open to everyone. My parents taught us hospitality and generosity. They were always bringing people home who needed a place to stay. Many mornings I would get up to have breakfast and there would be two or three people at the table who I had never met or seen before. Once, some Creek friends of Harry’s were travelling across the country and they stopped to camp out in our back yard – they stayed for six weeks. As far as heroes are concerned there are of course my parents, Harry Long, a Navajo elder named Fred Yazzie, a minister from the Congo from the Kasai tribe named Leon Mwambai, and many of my teachers and United Methodist minister mentors.

At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue the career path you selected?

Well, first of all, I do not often use the language of “career” in referring to my vocation. I prefer to use the old notion of a calling. My father has a Ph.D. in cross-cultural – what we would call today multi-cultural – education. I witnessed him raising funds for the mission school. So that influenced me.

But when I was in high school I played football, soccer, baseball and wrestled. You could not do that today because a single sport is now a year-round activity. I thought I was going to go to college to play football on a scholarship. Then when I was a junior I suffered a terrible knee injury followed by an infection. I was not a very good student at the time and had placed such energy and hope into my football aspirations that I thought life was over.

This injury turned out to be a blessing that changed my life. I had to miss a semester of high school and was assigned a homeschool teacher. She was hard on me, but inspired me to begin reading the classics and philosophy. I was immediately transformed and decided to pursue a vocation as an academic – reading, studying, writing about, and teaching what I loved. As far as “presidenting” is concerned, well you don’t major in that, but I knew that God had blessed me with a passion for the transformational impact of education, talents to work with others in developing a shared vision, executing that vision by getting others excited about it and to buy into the dream through actions, and a gift for communication. When the opportunity arose for me to become president of Hendrix College, I was drafted. I enjoy the work of leadership, but still love my academic discipline.

Were you more competitive or more collaborative growing up? What about now?

I have always been intensely competitive and I still have that zest in me. It is what makes me push myself to achieve excellence and it is what drives me to achieve the best for any organization for which I work. Wisdom and change, however, come to us with age and with learning. So over the years, particularly in the context of leadership, I have learned that collaboration is the most effective method to achieve buy-in and to achieve sustainable change and momentum. This is particularly true in the context of higher education where our values and practice of shared governance means that all key stakeholders are at the table – all voices are heard.  It means that we all work together and support each other and our shared vision and objectives. Too many times I have witnessed situations where individual board members are doing one thing with pet projects, individual deans and faculty members are doing another thing, and the administration is doing something else. This produces chaos where what is needed is coherent collaboration.

The value of collaboration lies in the fact that no one person has all of the answers, ideas, or skills to accomplish significant goals, to develop a vision, or to realize a transformational vision. There was a time in our society when we believed that all the priorities, direction, even the specific objectives for an organization came out of the office of the CEO or the president. This view alleviated everyone else in the organization from taking ownership and making things happen all the way up and down the institution. If things did not work out it was the president’s fault, but with collaboration if things are not working the community bears responsibility, too. In a collaborative process with community input, the leader is responsible for setting the tone and the direction and holding people accountable for their roles and commitments. It is more like what Eisenhower did when developing the plan for the European operations in WW II. He just continuously said: “Direction Berlin!”

What experiences had the greatest impact on you as an undergraduate? How does that inform the way you have tried to lead undergraduate institutions?

I remember sitting in my first philosophy class and reading Socrates. In his dialogues a question is raised (and I am paraphrasing): “Is what is good, good because the gods say it is good, or do the gods point to what is good because it is good?” This challenged my view of the source of the good and of God. I went on to read many other thinkers who shocked and challenged my views, such as Hume, Wollstonecraft, Nietzsche, W.E.B. Dubois, Foucault, Cornell West, and others. I struggled with the questions raised and was forced to examine my assumptions. So the experience that had the greatest impact on me was to be challenged to think critically and analytically. “To learn how to learn” – that is part of the essence of the liberal arts. So I think that quality education is liberal arts and science – interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary. It is an education that teaches students how to solve puzzles, to make connections between disciplines, to see difference, and to realize that perhaps more than one interpretation of the truth may be possible. I was challenged to ask questions about the historical context in which something was discovered or argued, to try and understand the meaning and significance of topics in courses from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. In an ideal community it is also a place where people, no matter their background or ideas, can be called into accountability for the arguments they make or positions they take without fear.

This informed my leadership of undergraduate institutions because I believe my role is one of service that provides the context and the resources for faculty and the community to challenge students in this way and to make connections both inside and outside of the classroom. This is also why I have concerns about liberal arts colleges or liberal arts universities that try sometimes to mimic large research universities. Those institutions are fragmented. Knowledge is in siloes. Our complex and changing world requires interconnectivity. It also requires an environment that challenges students’ basic assumptions and avoids becoming an echo chamber.

Why did you choose to study political science as you earned advanced degrees?

I assign a book in my Introduction to Politics courses. It is called “Attacking Faulty Reasoning.” The book takes students through each fallacy in reasoning and sharpens the mind. I read that book as an undergraduate and it helped me a great deal. My undergraduate degree as a double major in philosophy and political science prepared me well for graduate school. Within political science, I focused on international relations and political theory. I also studied management and business at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I chose political science because it allowed me to study normative questions such as what gives legitimacy to the way in which we organize ourselves into communities. It also trained me in qualitative and quantitative methodologies to test assumptions. So I guess it was the intersection of something like the humanities and the social sciences that drew me to the field.

How did your experiences traveling and studying abroad shape you then – and now?

A famous author once said that he intended his writing to “de-familiarize the familiar.” I have travelled, worked, and studied abroad quite a bit and in a variety of roles. I think I have lived a total, off and on, for four years in Eastern and Western Europe. I have also worked in volunteer projects and been on study tours to Central and South America and the Middle East. For example, I have worked on Habitat for Humanity and UMCOR projects. No matter where I have been, it has changed me in that it has refreshed my mind and put my little corner of the world and my big issues into perspective. I have had these experiences abroad in different seasons of my life and have found they have affected my thinking in different ways at different times. My wife lived in New Zealand for 10 years. I lived for a few years in Belgium. While there I studied and worked and learned not only French, but became fluent in Flemish/Dutch. I became totally immersed in the culture. In fact, so much so that most people did not realize I was from the United States. Usually, expats hang out with each other while abroad, but it is the immersion that I think is key to really getting outside of yourself and your particularistic identity. I have been to various parts of Africa many times. We started several exchange and study abroad programs while I was at Hendrix. The one of which I am most proud was the Rwandan Presidential Scholars program. We were able to bring 185 Rwandan students here to study math and science at liberal arts colleges and we sent scores of students there to study and to do internships. These experiences have shaped me and made me a strong advocate for these kinds of experiences for all students.

How do you think those early experiences shaped your views on higher education?

Those experiences definitely had an impact on how I view higher education today. I believe that the institutions that will thrive and gain recognition in this competitive environment will be those that have a coherent, compelling, differentiating vision and narrative. This will have to be something that is produced through collaboration with all stakeholders, and through empirical research we will have to know that the key differentiator will be compelling in our markets and with donors. What differentiates us must be universal and defining of the experience that students have at the institution.

How did all of this end up shaping your overall world view?

These experiences taught me that there are many roads to spirituality and ways to have a faith journey. Harry Long used to say to me that a teepee is held up by many poles, but all of them point toward heaven. My own Christian faith defines who I am. The life of Christian prayer, discipleship, and embracing the gifts of the Holy Spirit is what Wendy and I try to live each day. But these defining childhood experiences taught me that there are perhaps other paths to living out an authentic and meaningful faith journey. What we as Christians, and citizens of this country or of any campus community, should remember and embrace is that we must have the humility to know that we do not have all the answers.

We are all fallible and fallen. When we claim to have or know the whole truth out of our particularistic identity, or claim that because of our particular identity we hold a virtue that others do not, this leads quickly to the silencing of voices different than our own. If we do this we learn nothing and dialogue stops. This is happening on many campuses and the result has been a disintegration of civility, a rejection of the free exchange of ideas and a labeling of one another. I believe John Stuart Mill was right in defending openness as the expression and discussion of all ideas, ideals, and opinions if they are not part of hate speech or incite physical violence toward others.

Read Part 3 of the Q&A series: Teaching, Scholarship & Leadership

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Getting to Know Drury’s 18th President: Part 1 – The Selection Process

Part One: The View from the Search Committee

In an effort to better get to know Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd following a confidential search process, we asked several members of the search committee to discuss how and why they chose the school’s next leader. We will hear directly from Dr. Cloyd himself in future installments.

How did Dr. Cloyd come to the search team’s attention?

Lyle Reed, Chair, Board of Trustess: I was speaking with my good friend Dr. Robert Wyatt, President of Coker College and former director of Drury’s Breech School of Business Administration and asked him if he could think of any candidates he would recommend. He highly recommended Dr. Tim Cloyd, who had been president of Hendrix College when Robert was an ACE Fellow (mentoring and training individuals to be higher education senior leaders) assigned to Hendrix.  He indicated Tim had returned to the classroom, but might now be interested in returning to leadership and would check with him.  He then told me Dr. Cloyd was interested and gave me his contact information. We set up a meeting in Conway and he subsequently applied to be a candidate for the presidency.

What was your first impression of Dr. Cloyd?

Reed: I think many of us were looking for a charismatic individual, with a broadcaster’s voice, right out of Central Casting, who would quiet a room as soon as he walked in. That is not Dr. Cloyd. He is soft spoken, and doesn’t desire to take over a room.

Second impression?

Reed: His thoughtful and strategic mind quickly becomes captivating on any subject, especially higher education as it relates to yesterday, today and tomorrow.  His extensive background and experience provides plenty of substance for those discussions.

So, why did you choose him?

Bill Hart, Board of Trustees: Our search committee, with survey input from faculty, staff and alumni, compiled a list of specific criteria our new president must have. Dr. Cloyd easily met all the criteria. Additionally, and to me most importantly, Dr. Cloyd did for Hendrix what we’re hoping to do here at Drury. I believe he will assimilate all the strengths and wonderful attributes of Drury in a new vision of the University, which will be compelling and attractive to today’s students.

What excites you most about him?

Penny Clayton, faculty member: Dr. Cloyd is clearly a visionary leader and impressive intellectual. He has become quickly familiar with Drury’s background and is looking forward to providing fresh solutions to ongoing struggles. He has already developed a strong desire to get to know the Drury community and during interviews, spoke of the importance of exercising emotional intelligence.

Hart: Dr. Cloyd has such an incredible breadth and depth to his background, education and life experiences. I believe he demonstrates a quiet, but successful, analytical approach to problems and issues which will appeal to everyone at Drury: students, faculty, alumni and the Board.

How extensive was the vetting process?

Reed: It was as extensive as possible without hiring a gumshoe to shadow him and interrogate his acquaintances back to childhood. It included multiple face-to-face interviews with committee members, numerous telephone conversations, a volume of emails, Internet searches, and extensive reference and public records checking by our professional search firm. The search firm conducted a comprehensive interview with him. And our search committee received his medical reports and had background conversations with other confidential sources.

What did you learn from vetting that you didn’t know from his CV?

Reed: We learned more about his personal life, especially his family.  He was divorced some seven years ago from the mother of his children – Thomas, 16, and Samuel, 18. He is remarried and his wife, Wendy, has a son from a previous marriage, Logan, who is attending college in New Zealand. She lived in New Zealand for several years after running the family business in Nashville. Wendy and Tim were neighbors and classmates in high school and were reacquainted at a class reunion.

Were there any surprising moments during the process?

Reed: No, but there were some very candid discussions about serious topics, including one in particular about an incident that significantly impacted his family. On Christmas evening 2012, Dr. Cloyd hosted some international students at his home. That event had ended and he, his wife and sons were having family Christmas time together which included exchanging gifts, relaxing together, and he had a drink. Around midnight, an armed fugitive forced his way into their home and overtly threatened Dr. Cloyd’s family with harm if they didn’t do as told. He was in another room and heard the commotion, retrieved his personal handgun for which he is trained and holds a permit, and proceeded to hold the intruder at bay until the police arrived. Fortunately, the police arrived fairly quickly. Numerous police officers entered the residence while the person was still at large in the house. There was a considerable struggle and force was required to restrain the intruder, who was on drugs. He recalled it for us as a very frightening, chaotic scene, and a traumatic situation for his family, who witnessed everything first hand. It was clear to us that he did exactly what he believed he needed to do to protect his family in that difficult situation, and the good news was that none of his family was harmed, nor did he have to harm the intruder. It was a horrifying experience for the Cloyd family that required them to receive subsequent victim counseling. It is hard to be prepared for emergencies where you only have adrenaline-filled seconds to react.

Hart: I was an FBI agent for four years before entering a legal practice. After hearing the facts about the entire incident, I could understand why this event was so impactful. No one can imagine or anticipate how fast something like that happens and how disorienting, confusing and terrifying the situation can be. Law enforcement trains for that type of incident and still, you never know how you will react until it happens. In training, you talk about the incident after it’s over and invariably someone says they wish they had done something a little differently. It is never the same next time, there is always some circumstance that changes. This is certainly the kind of situation no one wants to go through.

What path led Dr. Cloyd to Drury?

Reed: Well, he had resigned as president of Hendrix about three years ago. The committee wanted to know why such a successful president would step down and return to the classroom. Those decision processes are not often a straight line and usually have multiple influences.  He had been thinking about stepping down for a year or so. He had twelve years of major happenings at Hendrix, including weathering two major recessions and had just completed a successful comprehensive capital campaign. Presidencies are demanding of personal time. Tim believes that presidents often have a “shelf life” at a particular institution and new thinking is needed to keep strategies fresh and relevant. And, while it was not a primary driver, the invasion incident was a life-changing experience for him and his family and influenced their personal priorities. I think all of those things combined to cause him to take a timeout. And, his timeout came to an end at the same time we began our search.

What is the one thing you want the Drury community to know about Dr. Cloyd?

Hart: I believe he is a really quick study. We shouldn’t be surprised if he has discovered a lot more about the issues facing Drury and today’s liberal arts education by July 1 than any of us expect. I suspect he will have many ideas about how to move Drury forward sooner than we anticipate and he will be right.

Clayton: He will be active in the Drury and Springfield communities and is dedicated to ensuring Drury’s future as a prestigious liberal arts university. I believe he will thoughtfully assess the current Drury climate, yet move quickly in developing momentum for a successful Drury future.

Reed: He is an empirical decision-maker and action-oriented. Traits that all references shared were: he is a strategic thinker, idea generator, entrepreneur, risk taker, visionary and efficacious leader. Our committee asked Dr. Cloyd: Of those traits, which one he would most embrace?  His answer: he is an “idea person.”  But, I believe they all speak to who Tim Cloyd is. I have personally spent a lot of time with Dr. Cloyd since the search team voted unanimously to recommend him to the full board of trustees as Drury’s 18th president, and I am now even more convinced that Tim Cloyd is the right person to lead Drury into the future we all desire.

Read Part 2 of the Q&A Series: The Formative Years.

Q&A: How the Northwest Project will benefit Springfield & Drury

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks announced Tuesday that a five-year grant for up to $1.3 million to address poverty in northwest Springfield will be awarded to a partnership led by Drury University, Missouri State University, and the Drew Lewis Foundation. The goal of The Northwest Project is to pilot strategies over a five-year period to help families overcome the challenges that have kept them living in poverty and sustain their long-term success in emerging from those circumstances.

Drury faculty and staff are excited by the possibilities for truly meaningful community engagement in the coming years. We asked Dan Prater, executive director of Drury’s Center for Nonproft Leadership, and Ryan Gipson, director of Drury’s Office of Community Outreach and Leadership Development, to tell us more about DU’s role in this major initiative.

 

What is the Northwest Project in a nutshell?

Dan Prater: It’s a large-scale effort to move people out of poverty and into a stronger, more sustainable life. This is in response to decades of seeing groups working on poverty, but with very little change in the poverty rate in our region.

The CFO put out requests for proposals from local organizations that worked collectively to create a systematic process for assisting families. The MSU/Fairbanks/Drury alliance was the winning group. This project differs from previous efforts in that all participating agencies will be required to work in unison with other helping agencies, using consistent forms, and communicating with one another.

The Northwest Project is modeled after a program in Jacksonville, Florida called “1,000 in 1,000.” That project was a collective effort of area nonprofits and civic organizations that moved 1,000 people out of poverty in 1,000 days.

What role will Drury and the Center for Nonprofit Leadership play in the project?

Prater: The Center for Nonprofit Leadership will work side-by-side with Missouri State University’s Center for Community Engagement to provide all evaluation and assessment for the project.

The Drury CNL and MSU CEC team will conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis, providing to funders and participating agencies important information on the families’ progress or lack thereof. This will help explain the factors that caused some individuals/families to succeed, and what caused some to fail. This critical information will help shape future program delivery, giving nonprofit and civic leaders primary evidence regarding their services.

How will the community benefit from Drury’s involvement?

Ryan Gipson: Drury will also be using new community service tracking and marketing software as part of this grant. This will allow us to direct Drury students, faculty, and staff to service opportunities being held by the agencies involved in the grant. But the truly exciting part is that it will also allow us to market those opportunities to the Springfield community as a whole. Anyone in Springfield can log onto the general website, see any service opportunities available, and RSVP to volunteer.

We want to see this tool used across the entire Springfield community so that nonprofit agencies in the area can reach more people who want to volunteer.

What kinds of opportunities will Drury students have to be involved in the project?

Gipson: During the next five years, we will be directing nearly one-third of the service hours that students log through the Community Outreach and Leadership Development Office to nonprofit agencies that are participating in the Northwest Project grant. The grant also allows us to increase our VITA Tax Clinic capacity to help more families.

Anytime agencies have a need for volunteers, we will ensure it is marketed to Drury students. The Community Outreach and Leadership Development office will also plan special large-scale events with focuses in the Northwest area. We will encourage students to use the skills they’ve gained in the classroom to help in specialized areas of need such as architecture students assisting with the Habitat for Humanity projects that are part of the grant, to name just one possible example.

What are your hopes for the impact the project will have on our community? 

Prater: We hope this project will have a clear, lasting impact on people in poverty. By providing people with the tools and resources they need, we hope to see immediate and long-term outcomes. Helping people with immediate needs can help them prepare for the future. The ripple effect will be felt by their entire family, and possibly for generations to come.