Tag: 2013

Leadership Message, September 9, 2013

Hello LOT and PLC members.

Good Sunday to each of you.

I am certain this has been a whirlwind week for you with classes, projects, perhaps new activities related to campus organizations, class assignments, your jobs on and off campus and the return to Oklahoma summer temperatures just when it looked as if we would leave the season behind us.

This has also been a momentous week across the USA and theworld as the question of Syria and possible US military response to suspected use of chemical weapons inside the country resulting in the deaths of Syrian citizens has captured the global attention.  In the wake of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade, this issue of possible US military action has reached white heat in political and strategic discussions here in the US among our citizens, the media, the Congress and, of course, the executive branch of the Federal government led by the President.

There is nothing simple about this situation, no quick fixes or magic formulas.  Ron Heifetz writes about leadership with no easy answers. This is one of those circumstances. And Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations commented last week that in the Middle East things will get worse before they get worse. And they have.

The issue of leadership is not reserved only for the options before the President.  There are leadership roles for others both inside the USA and outside, from the US Congress to leaders of other key countries, to local leadership throughout the Middle East and both regional and global organizations, such as the United Nations, The European Union, NATO and the Arab League, among others.  The confluence of the decisions taken, or not, by dozens of players will not only impact the outcome of this current crisis, but other challenges that any decision in this matter will provoke. This issue does not exist in isolation from the world that surrounds it.

Foreign policy is usually not an area of great interest or expertise for most of our citizens.  Their lives and concerns are usually and appropriately focused much closer to home. This latest contortion of the massive change that has been impacted the Middle East for the past two and one-half years has commanded the attentions and of Americans from across the political spectrum due at least in part to the concern of a possibleescalation of conflict in a region where have been embroiled in our two longest wars for years.

Watch the path of actions and responses this week as the President and his administration make their case to a reluctant Congress and a doubtful citizenry that US response, as outlined, is right, effective and necessary.

This is also the week when our nation pauses to remember the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Wednesday morning the UCOcommunity will gather near Broncho Lake to remember those who were lost on that fateful day and to reinforce our commitment to connect as a community and take care of each other.  A highlight this year will be the comments offered by our special guest, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, who will also by our Lessons-in- Leadership guest speaker at our Tuesday session.  Lt. Gov. Lamb is a distinguished public servant who has served our state and America with distinction.

Among the memorable initiatives undertaken on that day will bethe planting of American flags around Broncho Lake by all of us who are gathered there.  Each year I find it to be a moving moment as each of us solemnly places these small flags in the ground recalling those who were victims and their families, but also those who continue to protect us at home and abroad. Also that day, some of you will be visiting fire, police and other emergency agencies offering food and appreciation to the men and women who serve our communities in this way. I encourage you to find your way to Broncho Lake Wednesday morning at 9 AM.

Finally, Saturday evening will be a major happening at UCO as the Bronchos host the Pittsburg State Gorillas in our first home football game.  There will be various activities before kickoff.  It is UCO BRAVO Employee Appreciation Day. It is a special time when we say a collective “thank you” to the hundreds of women and men who are the soul of the university. Pitt State has a highly-regarded team and a community that travels to their road games.  Expect to see a large number of Kansas license plates on and near campus that evening.  As we always do, please extend UCO hospitality to all.

Find some shade today and I will see you soon.

Don Betz

Lessons in Leadership – Fall 2013

Good Sunday to each of you.

Welcome to Lessons in Leadership.

I hope that this message finds you in excellent spirits.  This is an extended holiday weekend here in the USA originally intended to honor America’s workers with the day off.

Each week during this semester I will offer some comments in this space.  It may be a reflection on the week’s guest presentation, or perhaps a set of issues before us which merits our group consideration.  There will be connections to leadership and, hopefully, to you.

On Tuesday we will officially launch the “L in L” series of speakers and interactions among  PLC and LOT members, their mentors and those from the UCO community and outside the university who choose to join us.  However, the focus of the program is you and your continuing development as emerging leaders.  The approach will be both theoretical and practical and intended to cultivate your understanding and exercise of the art of leadership.  Dr. Jarrett Jobe will guide and mentor the process.

Over the coming weeks a series of exceptional people from our region have generously consented to spend time with you.  They are energized by the prospect of connecting with you who they see as successors to follow them into positions of responsibility and decision-making. They know that the future of a community, state, country or globe is directly influenced and contoured by the quality of its leaders. One of our goals is to intentionally grow the leadership pool in Oklahoma and beyond

At UCO, we speak often about creating a culture of learning, leading and serving.  For us, these are not idle words intended for a brochure or a commentary.  We are intentional in our continuing efforts to prepare our students for success as life-long learners, and as leaders who serve and servers who lead.

We also believe that imagination, creativity and leadership are indispensable ingredients for personal and community success.  That success pivots on a common vision and a degree of collaboration beyond what is usually expected.

These attributes are essential to successfully navigate the breadth and depth of change that is imbedded in the fabric of our lives and our society. Change is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our contemporary world.  And there is scant indication that the breakneck pace of change is about to subside any time soon.  This is our milieu, our environment, our world.  As citizens, community members and leaders, we prepare to meet the challenges and nurture of opportunities that change offers every day.

And we learn to do this together.  One of the clear lessons of this time and leading into the future is the power of “we”.  Genuine collaboration opens options and possibilities undiscovered by the lone seeker.  The scope and possibilities are amplified when we find common ground and step up, together.  Perhaps this collective sense of connection and persistence was demonstrated for some of you last week when America remembered across the last half century to the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a defining moment in the evolution of our country as it continues to pursue the founders’ ideals and vision.  As has been often said, we are seeking a more perfect union.  And we do so together.

I am eager to meet you and to learn more about your aspirations as a valued member of the community, from local to global. As Dr. King so prophetically reminded us, “we are all tied in a single garment of destiny.”

And we have clear obligations toward one another.  One is to develop our capacities to learn, lead and serve.  Another is to take care of each other.  One of the ways leaders do so is by responding to the call of service.

Jeffrey Sachs in his latest volume, To Move the World, encourages us not to fear change, but rather to embrace it.  “Let’s embrace and harness the winds of change, together, for all the right reasons”.  In this book about President John Kennedy and the process he and others created to achieve a partial ban on nuclear weapons testing during some of the dark days of the Cold War.  Sachs said the stakes were high in 1963 due to the awesome power of these weapons.

“At such a hinge of history, individual can make a vast difference”, Sachs writes.  “Now it is out turn.  We know that the tasks are large, but so are the past acts of leadership that inspire us and encourage us on our way.”

Leaders, he counsels, are not gripped by forces beyond their control.  ‘We too can be as big as we want.  We too can stand and move the world”.

And so, we believe, each of you will in your unique manner and time.

We are here to help cultivate the best “you”, so that together we might create the best “we” to lead and serve now and into the future.

Enjoy these final holidays of the summer season.

Don Betz