Friday, October 22, 2010

Acknowledging an uniquely successful academic leader, AU's Dean Lous Goodman

Last week, AU’s Dean of the School of International Service, Louis Goodman, announced that he was stepping down after 24 years of service. Today, I was contacted by a reporter from American University’s newspaper, The Eagle. She is writing an article on Dean Goodman’s tenure and was seeking my thoughts. Here is what I wrote in response.

I have known Dean Goodman as a friend and served as an SIS faculty member under his leadership for more than 20 years. I dedicated my most recent book, Paradise Poisoned: Learning About Conflict, Development and Terrorism from Sri Lanka's Civit Wars (2005) to him. In my dedication, I wrote this: "As Dean of American University's School of International Service, he has established himself as one of the world's most effective leaders in International Relations higher education. A measure of his leadership is ability to demand that faculty meet high standards, while empowering them to follow their own intellectual lights..."

When one of my students became Dean Goodman's Executive Assistant (she held the position for more than a year) I told her that her position outside his office was a vantage point for observing one of the world's most effective academic administrators, from whom she could learn valuable lessons. "What did you learn," I asked, at the end of her year of service. "Dean Goodman is an incredibly effective time manager, though he does work incredibly long hours," she told me. "This gives him the opportunity to he far more accessible - not only to faculty and staff, but also students. He uses these meeting times efficiently, but always gives those with whom he meets his full attention. Students are amazed and empowered by these conversations - they tell me so. And he maintains contact with them - supporting and encouraging - over many years..." Dean Goodman is not only admired and respected but even beloved by many. This is because of this unique ability to hear people out; then to encourage and support them in ways that make a lasting difference in their lives. This is also his strength as an administrator. He leads by example, drawing forth the creative energies of his staff and empowering them to do their very best. He is very different from leaders, found in some organizations, who rarely listen to anyone and try to get results by ordering people around.

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