Version classiqueVersion mobile

Like Nobody’s Business

Andrew C. Comrie


Texte intégral

1I owe a debt of gratitude to my colleagues and friends, mentors and teachers all, for what I learned from them about the art and science of leading a university. Thanks to the many who explained to me, or asked me to explain, how the money flows (and sometimes doesn’t) to turn the giant waterwheel of the knowledge factory. It’s impossible to prioritize who to thank more, so my list below is instead loosely thematic. If I have provided any insights in this book it is, as Isaac Newton’s metaphor goes, by standing on the shoulders of these giants:

  • The people of the University of Arizona, who literally are the University, for the opportunity to lead you and this wonderful institution that has been my professional home for almost three decades, and which afforded me a sabbatical during which I wrote much of this book;
  • Allison Vaillancourt, for encouraging me to write a book, for speaking truth to power and asking important questions, and for countless enlightening discussions of leadership, institutional effectiveness and organizational change;
  • Brad Story, for the many miles walked together that flew by with hours of fascinating conversations about so many topics in this book along with our research, teaching, the University, and life;
  • Jim Florian, the virtuoso who gave me a six-year masterclass in institutional budgeting and finance, who was an invaluable partner as we implemented RCM, who also speaks truth to power, and who knows when to swim sideways;
  • Dorian Voorhees, the guru of grad funding who always puts students first, who introduced me to how it all really works behind the scenes, and who first showed me that billionaire donors are just people too;
  • Ed Frisch, the statesman of planning and budget who, together with Jim and Dorian back in 2006, explained to a then-new graduate dean how tuition waivers really worked—the genesis event that got me sucked into this whole topic;
  • Caroline Garcia, second to none in research finance, who educated me in how financial administrators really enable research, and who grew talent with tough love as the informal dean of the Garcia school of university business management;
  • Marilyn Taylor, for teaching me how the process of funding budgets and people is simultaneously about the big picture, the details, and creative problem-solving, and for always running towards the fire;
  • Joel Hauff, from whom I absorbed all manner of entrepreneurial acumen about residence halls, bookstores, food concessions, and online pricing;
  • Kathy Whisman, without whose knowledge and budget slides I would never have given the talks that fertilized this book, and who is living proof that the wisest are not the loudest;
  • Hank Childers and Barry Brummund, who showed me how technical expertise, understanding people, and business sense can deliver critical projects on-budget, flawlessly (and who showed that it isn’t always easy to tell who’s the philosopher and who’s the IT expert);
  • Rhoda Ray, who introduced me as a junior faculty member to the colors of money and from whom I learned that business managers are problem-solvers, not bookkeepers;
  • Leslie Tolbert, for believing in me and for the opportunity to gain so much experience, and for demonstrating that erudition, grace and courage are inspiring qualities in science, in life, and in the messiness of academic leadership.
  • George Davis, the philosopher-king of provosts, for how to think about the toughest decisions at the intersection of intellectual value and budgetary reality;
  • Ann Weaver Hart, who took a chance on someone for whom, in her words, the glass is three-quarters full, who imparted so much to me about how universities work and how we pay for them, and who could boil it all down to the pithiness of a Dr. Seuss book;
  • John Schaefer, Henry Koffler, Peter Likins, Robert Shelton, Gene Sander, and Bobby Robbins, who imparted their knowledge about battling budgets, leading change, and making tough decisions every day;
  • Melissa Vito, for embodying the value of a creative business sensibility in higher education, for tremendous insights on student affairs, student success, enrollment and tuition-setting, as well as for recognizing the importance of 80s music and her commitment to keep doing epic $#! +;
  • Gregg Goldman, who gave me an appreciation of private university affairs, business school finances, the challenges and complexities of health science and hospital funding, and the importance of sometimes just spending the money on a worthy project;
  • Bob Smith, who taught me how world-class buildings get built, and who is responsible for our beautiful campus and much of its remarkable architecture;
  • Pat Jones, for introducing me to the world of tech transfer and innovation, David Purcell for the chance at growing a spinoff company, Bruce Wright for how tech parks work, Sherry Hoskinson for helping me understand entrepreneurship and that it can be taught, Nancy Smith for how to make corporate relations count, Nina Ossanna for illustrating that doing deals is fun, David Allen for how to build a tech innovation ecosystem, Grace Ratje for how to keep the whole business functioning, and special thanks to Doug Hockstad for providing national tech transfer data;
  • Shane Burgess, for edifying me about Ag schools, cooperative extension, land grant legislation, and how to conceptualize and plan a new college from scratch, along with Jeff Ratje for showing how to keep that whole enterprise inside the rules and properly budgeted;
  • Lynn Nadel, for asking tough questions and always pursuing robust debate in the pursuit of a better University, for enthusiastic engagement in designing and implementing a new budget model (even after seeing how winning research grants means losing money), and for the best foodie advice here in town and virtually anywhere on the planet;
  • Ron Marx, Lisa Rulney, Vin del Casino, Lisa Ordóñez, Katie van Renterghem and everyone who served on the RCM committee, for all they helped me learn as we sought to understand and make understandable a university budget;
  • Jenny Flynn, Vicki Fleischer, and JP Roczniak, who taught me almost everything I know about the business of fundraising, how a dedicated team can achieve change, and with whom 7: 30 a.m. on Thursdays shall forever be associated, as well as Craig Barker for how one properly invests hundreds of millions of endowment dollars;
  • Dick Silverman, Ted Hinderaker, Tom Keating, and Sarah Brown Smallhouse, for showing me the responsibility and passion that foundation trustees bring with their support of the University;
  • Melinda Burke, for the many chances to speak with alumni leaders and for insightful discussions about changing alumni association business models;
  • Chris Sigurdson, who put me in front of the press and encouraged me to be myself as I explained the issue du jour, oftentimes covering topics in this book;
  • Kathryn Conrad, for explaining how university presses work and for publishing advice;
  • Even more colleagues who taught me how the money works, pushed me on how it should work, and helped me make it work, including Jacqueline Mok, Kim Espy, Leigh Neumayer, Skip Garcia, Jennifer Barton, Meredith Hay, JP Jones, Marc Miller, Jim Wyant, Kaye Rowan, Tom Koch, Joaquin Ruiz, Elliott Cheu, Jory Hancock, Sharon Young, the staff and board of UA Presents, Steve Goldschmid, Andrew Carnie, Diane Horgan, Maria Teresa Velez, Connie Garcia, Christina Mena, Mike Proctor, Suzanne Panferov, Brent White, Duc Ma and the finance team, Kasey Urquidez, Angela Baldesare, Simran Nirh, Michele Norin, Karen Williams, Jeff Goldberg, all of my other dean and associate/assistant dean colleagues, the leaders of Heads-Up, the Regents’ Professors and Distinguished Professors, Wanda Howell, the members of shared governance, and student leaders;
  • Many members of that remarkable law practice in the basement known as the Office of General Counsel, including Laura Todd Johnson, Glenn George, Art Lee, Heather Gaines, Stephanie Rosenberg, David Wagner, Josh Estavillo, Celeste Steen, Bruce Skolnik, David Nix, and Steve Adamczyk for advice and counsel, sometimes on matters outside the law such as human nature, singing, and good food;
  • Anne Marx, Clarisa Robles, and the Provost’s Office staff, all consummate professionals, for their tireless support and willingness to jump into whatever the rush or crisis demanded, and for putting up with me and all my talking as I experienced much of what is now distilled here;
  • Gail Burd and Tom Miller, indefatigable colleagues who truly believe in and embody the value of higher education, who counseled wisely and cajoled when necessary, and who love the give-and-take debate of decision-making as much as I do;
  • The regents, legislators, business and community leaders, and parents from whom I learned the many important ways in which society both values and questions the business of the University;
  • Debra Stewart, the personification of smart and effective leadership, for the many opportunities to learn about the business of graduate education and international higher education, with a shout-out to the graduate deans and staff of the Council of Graduate Schools, who all created such a valuable professional development environment;
  • David Payne, for showing me how an academic can combine intellectual rigor and business smarts in running a large nonprofit, and for giving me the chance to weigh in on the GRE;
  • Fellow provosts in the AAU, the APLU and at our sister schools in Arizona, all of whom warmly shared their challenges, explanations, insights and advice;
  • The International Council and staff of ITMO University in St. Petersburg who, with the visionary leadership of Vladimir Vasilyev and Daria Koslova, have taught me volumes about the business of international higher education and how far and fast a change-oriented institution can move;
  • My colleagues in the School of Geography, Development and Environment, a marvelous academic home, who are too numerous for me to mention individually but amongst whom I must recognize Diana Liverman who has been a mentor and friend since our Penn State days, Dave Plane who hired me and subsequently empowered me to direct our graduate program in my first administrative role, Steve Yool who has been a friend since day one on the job and who introduced me to the delights of homebrewing, and Beth Mitchneck who, one fateful day, persuaded me to try central administration;
  • The marvelous team at OBP who helped give life to this book, including Alessandra Tosi, Anna Gatti, Melissa Purkiss, Luca Baffa and Laura Rodriguez, who together with their colleagues prove that an academic press with a progressive business model can succeed intellectually and financially;
  • Everyone else who helped make this a better book, including Roger Geiger who provided insightful and detailed comments on the manuscript, numerous colleagues listed above who taught me how finances worked in their particular corner of the academy, and Benjamin Dreyer, who doesn’t know me but whose erudite, elegant and witty gem of a book, Dreyer’s English, is indeed the utterly correct guide to clarity and style (Dreyer 2019).

2I am also truly grateful for the sustenance of family and friends, who were always interested in the progress of the book and unfailingly encouraging at every turn:

  • Lee, my wife, best friend, love of my life, and partner across continents and time;
  • Our daughters Alison and Hayley, amazing and inspiring young women both, who as proud products of public higher education are, respectively, advancing the frontiers of neuroscience and saving lives in healthcare;
  • My dad, Jock, who gave to me his love of thinking, reading and writing, my late mom, Yvonne, who passed to me her love of the creative life, and my brother, Stewart, whose enthusiasm for management and business eventually rubbed off on me;
  • Harold and the recently departed Em, the warmest in-laws, who have always included me in their special family;
  • The partners and siblings of this whole group for creating a marvelous extended family;
  • Friends, near and far, who wanted regular updates and cheered my progress.

3To one and all, my deepest thanks.


Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search