Lessons in Leadership
Good frozen Sunday to you!
We are counting on clearing skies to assist our UCO crew in preparing the grounds for a safe
finals week. But please be cautious walking and driving. Slow and steady make
good sense in ice and snow. I want you to successfully complete this semester and return to
your family and friends for your holiday break.
Susanne and I were delighted to have you in our home this past week. You all looked
marvelous, and I am confident that you harvested hundreds of photos. I enjoyed speaking
with many of you about your studies, families and aspirations. You are all members of
UCO leadership programs we intentionally created to encourage and prepare graduates to
assume roles throughout our world, from local to global. We are committed to offering you
experiences which, taken together, provide you with a value-added opportunity to learn and
exercise leadership as undergraduates. Leadership is one of UCO’s “Central Six”, high impact
practices intended to enhance your growth and development beyond your mastery of discipline
Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and former Edmond major Patrice Douglas was our
final L in L guest leader for the semester. Patrice is a vibrant public servant and a relevant role
model. Despite her demanding responsibilities, she was truly looking forward to her time with
I was pleased that she included concepts from Bill George’s True North. She asked us to
consider what we value most and why. I know this is your blog topic this week in your interaction
with Jarrett. This “true north” alignment is connected to issues of integrity and character that
we have discussed earlier.
At the nucleus of effective leadership is a vitality and determination closely linked to service, to
others and to the fundamental rhythms of life that connect us all. Patrice and Bill George know
that we are all in an intensely human enterprise, that what each of us does impacts others, and
that, in the end, we our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Cultivating our expanding competence,
our honesty, our vision and our compassion demonstrably enhances our capacities to serve, our
leadership effectiveness, and the sense of satisfaction which is derived from our quality of life.
Please be sure to reach out Patrice to express your appreciation at some time in the coming
Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who spent 27 years in prison for his
resistance to the apartheid regime that ruled his country, passed away this week at age 95.
For the next week, the world’s media will concentrate on the man, his legacy, his country
and the goodbye which will be witnessed by a massive global audience. South Africa can
seem distant from our world here in Oklahoma and at UCO, but the lessons to be discovered,
enshrined and retold are universal.
Many volumes have been written about Mandela, and more will follow. Former President
Bill Clinton places him in the rarest of company in the past century and more, listing him with
Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr as leaders with transforming impact on those around them,
and far beyond. Each was a recognized change agent who suffered at the hands of government
and local authorities in their campaigns to alter the circumstances under which people lived their
lives. None of the three was financially wealthy, controlled vast armies or territory, and all there
experienced humbling setbacks. Two were assassinated, martyred for the beliefs and their
Nelson Mandela’s ” martyrdom” was to spend 27 years in an isolated island prison off the coast
of Capetown, a hard labor confinement intended to rob its captives of hope. But changes within
the global political landscape, in his own country, and his disciplined determination resulted not
only in his celebrated release in 1990, and also in his election as the first black president of a
South Africa historically controlled by its white minority citizenry.
There is so much to his story that includes the USA, the Cold War, nationalism, economic and
racial disparities, and struggles for democracy that continue in Africa and around the world. I
urge you to learn more about him and the world in which he fought for political, economic and
Among the comments that are relevant to our goals here at UCO and for L in L include those
related to his character and leadership style. He has been identified as a man of courage,
character and compassion, a man who become the change he sought for his people and, by
example, for others. Mandela was a symbol of freedom for many in Africa and elsewhere. I
have seen his face on t-shirts in dozens of countries, proudly worn by the young and their
parents. Mandela was admired because he lived his values, but was also pragmatic In
achieving his goals of freedom and democracy, goals which, even today, remain elusive in his
home country. Even in the dark days in Robben Island prison, his fellow captives marveled at
his perpetual discipline. He remarked that his captors isolated him, but they could not take his
mind and heart.
Mandela is revered also because rather than seeking revenge for his lost decades in prison, he
molded and advocated for reconciliation, so essential if South Africa was to become the multi-
racial democracy Mandela envisioned.
There are so many quotable quotations attributed to Nelson Mandela. Here are just a sampling
with special meaning for us.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”
And one which is hanging in the Nigh food court seating area, “It is impossible until it is done.”
Given the state of contemporary technology, the coverage of Mandela’s funeral and related
events will be exceptional. This is history as we watch, listen and learn.
I encourage you to observe and connect as your lives permit.
Finally, my best wishes for a highly successful conclusion to the semester’s work. All of you
should rightly count this as an notable achievement.
And offer a work a thanks and appreciation to Jarrett and Marissa for all their guidance and
I am truly pleased that you are here with us at UCO. I will be following your pathways with