Provost's Leadership Academy Graduation Ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at Lighty Student Services Building in Pullman.
The Provost’s Leadership Academy’s culminating event on May 1 at Lighty Student Services Building in Pullman.

Earlier this month I had the honor of celebrating the accomplishments of the Provost’s Leadership Academy.

The intent of the Provost’s Leadership Academy is to infuse the faculty ranks, 25 to 30 people at a time, with knowledge of leadership and how the university works. Since January, each of the 26 faculty members in the fourth cohort dedicated many hours to improving their people skills, communication techniques, and consensus-building tactics.

One of the catch phrases that arose from the culminating discussion was, “Now you know.” The Academy participants now know some of the inner-workings of administration and they are better prepared to navigate the challenges they encounter when working in that realm. They also now share a common language within their cohort and among Academy alumni, and they can rely on each other for support and encouragement.

The Tidal Leadership program, which is offered as a full course through WSU’s Global Campus, serves as the basis for the program. Kim Kidwell and Mary Kay Patton lead the group in exercises and discussion designed to help the participants discover their strengths and weaknesses and develop techniques to maximize their effectiveness as leaders. The cohort’s camaraderie grew at a retreat early in the semester and each participant worked on a project associated with institutional leadership.

An enduring theme of the program is that leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Not every leader oozes charisma and sometimes they aren’t natural orators, but they can still be strong leaders through communication and relationship building.

The Provost’s Leadership Academy is proving a worthy endeavor. Several program alumni are now in leadership positions at campuses around the state and faculty are gaining insights and skills that make them more effective leaders, regardless of their positions. Laura Sue Lavine participated in the 2014 cohort and has since been named interim director of ADVANCE at WSU and assistant director of the CAHNRS Office of Research.

“I benefitted from peer learning with my cohort, which was composed of faculty with a diverse set of leadership goals and styles,” Laura says. “I had an ‘aha!’ moment when, during one of our sessions, I realized with a sense of relief, that being a leaders does not mean mimicking a five-star general in the Army, barking orders. Instead, I found out I could be warm, empathetic, transparent leader who maintains and values relationships with the people that I work with and for.”

Laura’s reflections are common among Leadership Academy alumni.

“One of the most valuable benefits was gaining a sense of confidence, that I could function effectively as a leader in spheres beyond the safety net of my own department,” adds 2015 cohort member Lisa Gloss, associate dean of the Graduate School and associate professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences. “It has been very beneficial to meet the diverse faculty in the PLA cohort; we shared many helpful conversations about troubles, trials, challenges and most importantly, successes regarding how to take on leadership roles and move projects forward.

Even if the participants do not become deans or department chairs, the skills they acquire in the Academy are transferrable to just about any situation and any venue. Informal leadership is vital as we strive to reach our goals as a university.

The fifth cohort of the Provost’s Leadership Academy will convene in early 2016. If you know a faculty member who is committed to improving leadership at WSU, please consider nominating him or her for the program. For more information on the Provost’s Leadership Academy, email Jerman Rose at

Congratulations to our 2015 Provost Leadership Academy graduates:

Suzanne Appleyard-Wayman

Robert Bauman

Janet Beary

Robin Bond

Chris Coppin

Michael Court

Anne Cox

Lydia Gerber

Lisa Gloss

Stacey Hust

Monica Johnson

Jane Lanigan

Jeremy Lessmann

Bidisha Mandel

Kirk McAuley

Sterling McPherson

Sean Murphy

Pavithra Narayanan

Holly Neibergs

Todd Norton

Cameron Peace

Robert Quinlan

Cheryl Schultz

Kevin Snekvik

Judy Theodorson