UH must listen and learn about leadership





The decision has been made. Now we must get together ... and get to work.

I support the Board of Regents' choice of a combined chancellor-president to head University of Houston and the UH System. And I think everyone needs to understand that this choice of a "single CEO" structure has no winners or losers; it is about coming together, closing ranks, mutual respect and cooperation.

Again, I want to personally say that I want, and we need, the students to be part of this community effort.

As all higher education in the United States moves toward new realities, we can make this combined governing structure work to serve the University of Houston's missions of teaching, research and service in an urban context and for the future - but only if we seize the responsibility to make it happen.

We cannot fall back on our old processes, prejudices or plans. We need new ideas and we need them from everyone.

It is crucial over the next few months, especially as we head into a new legislative session, that we close ranks, take a look at our functions and relationships and begin to implement the redesign competently and confidently.

That means the creation of a new culture in terms of leadership - leadership involving everyone. There is nothing more important in my mind if we want to succeed in sustaining an environment of excellence. This campus must take the lead, and it must begin with these four areas:

We must restore the public trust in our institution. The upheaval and uncertainty need to be put behind us as we show the leaders of the public and private sectors, our legislators and especially our fellow citizens that the University of Houston is strong and sure of its future.

We must create a solution-oriented mindset on campus. The discussion must continue, but the criticism needs to end. The decision is made and we have been given an opportunity to create a model. Ideas, clarification, answers and results are what we must be about now.

We must implement a solid, stable transition plan. This is the hard part. These next few months are the most crucial time, and moving into the new structure will require patience, openness, respect for the integrity of each campus, and real attention to the specific needs of our students and the educational process that is our main job.

We must recognize and establish a "comfort level" with who we are and what we do. And we must have pride in our mission. Knowing how we fit in our metropolitan context and liking that fit are important attributes if we want to increase public awareness and confidence in the University of Houston.

An urban university cannot succeed unless it has the involvement of both town and gown. You, as students and future alumni, fulfill both those roles.

One last thing about leadership: It's really about listening. We cannot come together and work together if we cannot stop to listen, to share and to appreciate each other. That is the basis of building a community and building success.

Goerke is the interim president of the University of Houston.

Last Modified: 8-17-96    © 1996 The Daily Cougar

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