President David Skorton Discusses Change in University Leadership

March 19, 2015 12:05 am0 comments


(Photo by Connor Archard / Sun Senior Photographer)

(Photo by Connor Archard / Sun Senior Photographer)

By the end of this academic year, the University will see the departure of several senior-level administrators — President David Skorton will leave in June to head the Smithsonian Institution, Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94 will retire from her post as vice president for student and academic services and former provost Kent Fuchs began his presidency at the University of Florida at the beginning of this year.

In an interview with The Sun earlier this month, Skorton said he believed this transition between leaderships and such turnover was a “good” thing. He explained this in the context of when the Board of Trustees approached him to consider another five-year term as president.

“I think there is already potential for a good, smooth transition.” – President David Skorton

“I told them I didn’t want to do it because … fresh ideas are very important in such a complex [and] changing entity,” he said. “Every year, roughly a quarter of undergrad students turn over. Every year, new graduate and professional students come in. Faculty and hiring staff turnover occurs. And so, I think it’s good for the leadership to turn over as well.”

Skorton said the Board of Trustees, whose tasks are to “hire and release the President,” is a major force of continuity between change in leadership. He added that “direct interaction between incoming and outgoing executives” is another factor that plays in continuity.

“Murphy, after 21 years, will still be around here in another role and she will make herself available if the new person wants advice,” he said. “So I think there is already potential for a good, smooth transition. … I know there will be a chance for some interaction between people who are doing the job and people who are going to be doing it later.”

“I really believe [President-elect Elizabeth Garrett] is going to be a great leader.” – President David Skorton

Skorton also said he has had consistent interaction with President-elect Elizabeth Garrett, and believes that she is an “effective” communicator.

“There has been enormous chance for me to begin to interact with Beth Garrett, and she has been so energetic and effective at communicating with me,” Skorton said. “I really believe that she’s going to be a great leader — [she is] student-centric, smart, experienced, decisive, but she’s also getting a big chance to interact with me and other leaders, so I think that part will be a pretty smooth transition.”

He also encouraged student leaders to “step up and interact” with Garrett.

“I feel that Garrett will form a very strong and cohesive team and pay attention to every person in her circle,” Skorton said.