The University of Connecticut’s new president is getting some pointers from a transition team similar to those often used to help new corporate executives.
The school will spend up to $177,000 for 120 days of work by a management consulting firm that is helping new President Michael J. Hogan get his bearings.
Before Hogan arrived from the University of Iowa two weeks ago, the firm had already started interviewing faculty members, staff, students, politicians, alumni and trustees.
The team is working to give Hogan an overview of the issues UConn faces and help him set priorities.
Though such teams are more often used in corporate settings, universities are beginning to hire them as well.
“The university’s not a business, but it has to be businesslike in the way it’s managed. We owe that to the citizens of the state of Connecticut who are paying the bill,” said trustee chairman John W. Rowe.
UConn has a $1.5 billion budget, 9,200 employees, a law school, a health center and five regional campuses.
“The old culture of academics was that academic and professional management didn’t mix. But I think the emerging culture of academics is that academics flourishes in the context of a professional management,” Rowe said.
Rowe worked with consulting firm Katzenbach Partners of New York when he was CEO of Aetna. The company, which was picked over three other bidders, will be paid up to $150,000, plus up to $27,000 for additional expenses.
Rowe had been on the selection committee to choose the consulting firm but dropped out once Katzenbach bid.
Hogan said the company has been helpful so far.
“They are just kind of my ears, and they will report back to me about what priorities people want to see. I want to be able to hear that,” Hogan said. “Sometimes when you have an independent set of eyes and ears, people will be more forthcoming.”
Claire Van Ummersen, vice president of the Center for Effective Leadership at the American Council on Education, said it’s becoming more common for colleges and universities to hire transition teams.
“It’s an enormous burden lifted from the shoulders of the president,” Van Ummersen said. “This is important for the institution because if the president lasts only two or three years because they are forced out because the transition was not handled properly, it is not good for the university.”
Information from: The Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com
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