Barchi’s comments hint at leadership
The University learns a little bit more about its new president, Robert L. Barchi, with each Convocation, University meeting and piece of news coverage. We know he wants to do a better job marketing a University education. We know he plans improve its reputation in the health sciences. We know he likes clocks.
What we don’t know, however, is what kind of leader Barchi plans to be. And we’re not sure we can predict the kind he’ll be, either — at least, not based on his own comments and the information surfaced about him thus far. From what we’ve garnered, Barchi can potentially go either way.
On one hand, we have Barchi’s past experience as a strong leader, and even stronger fundraiser at his post as former president of Thomas Jefferson University. There he seemed receptive enough to students concerns — undoubtedly a necessary quality to possess as the president of a University as large and diverse as our own — and during his term, started a series of fireside chats through which students could voice their questions and comments. A record like this certainly bodes well for his potential as a leader.
On the other hand, however, some of Barchi’s own comments paint him in a slightly different light. In an hour-long conversation with reporters outside his office in Old Queens last week, Barchi was quoted saying “I’m not in this game to be beloved. I do expect to get a job done. That’s how I measure myself.” Clearly, such an attitude belongs in a vein much different than one of a president who would offer student and faculty opinion a place at his round table.
But perhaps, taken together, these are the kinds of qualities that make great leaders — and so far, Barchi seems to exemplify both. While knowing when and where to make the tough decisions that affect a community is of course important, it’s equally important to do so knowing well the needs and concerns of the community members themselves. A great leader not only listens to his constituents and their concerns, but hears them as well. At the same time, we acknowledge a successful president should be a leader — not, necessarily, everyone’s best friend.
If the comments and experiences uncovered within the last few weeks are any kind of testament to his potential as a leader, Barchi looks to be shaping up to one we can all admire.
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