IT Leaders Program – Tenth Anniversary

By: Jim Bruce
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Ten years ago today, the first workshop of the first MOR IT Leaders Program, held at the University of Chicago, came to an end.  Beth Hayes, Penn State participant in that first cycle, has written of that time:

“Attending the IT Leadership Program was a game changer.  As our session began, I was concurrently moving to a new position and assuming new responsibilities for which I had little experience and expertise.  It was a banner day when I heard Greg Jackson, then CIO of the University of Chicago, state that leaders do not need to have all of the answers, they just need to know where to find them.  This helped me reset self expectations, relax and get excited about upcoming opportunities.”

Gary Augustson, the CIO at Penn State who sent Beth to the program wrote:  

"In the fall of 2004 when I first got wind of the MOR IT Leaders Program, I had no idea what an adventure Penn State’s signing up would turn out to be.  Quite candidly, I thought it was yet another flyer that we needed to explore as we had so few options available to us for the development of our future leaders.

"Yes, my familiarity with Jim Bruce – and my trust in his judgment about IT issues – gave me a tinge of hope beyond some of the other places we had explored – but I had never heard of MOR Associates, hadn’t a clue who Brian McDonald was or what he had spent his life doing – my confidence level was quite low.

"Even as we launched our first effort – joining the very first MOR program and, in fact, when Penn State hosted the workshop on campus, I quickly announced to Brian and others that ‘You can’t teach leadership' – I had serious doubts.  I was pleasantly surprised when later – as I checked in on the folks who were participating in the program – to hear their positive, even glowing, comments about how different this experience was from others they had been associated with.

"I guess I knew we were onto something when the first two groups returned and said – this was something that could make a difference at Penn State, but only if Penn State went ‘all in – and go ‘all in’ we did.  It was, without a doubt one of the wisest decisions I made during my tenure at Penn State."

And, recently, Greg Jackson wrote:  

"You guys [Brian and Jim] created something that we desperately needed in higher-education IT, a program that took the problem of evolutionary leadership seriously, and addressed it successfully.  By ‘evolutionary’ I mean two things:  First, IT Leaders helped its participants evolve as technology and higher education evolved, rather than settle comfortably into roles defined by particular technologies at particular times, as had been the tradition in the heavy-metal era.  Second, and more important for the overall health of the profession, IT Leaders helped its clients – that is the IT organizations that paid its fees – to prepare future generations of leaders and so IT Leaders helped higher-education IT plan collectively for leadership succession in times of great change.”

Bill Clebsch, Stanford’s Associate Vice President for IT Services stated it this way:  

“Folks came back from IT Leaders with stories of great practical experience about Jim, and wild stories about Brian that kind of scared the people who were in line to come next.  It was great!  The graduates had a common language and a commitment that allowed them to be so effective at working together that was an utter delight.  They achieved new levels of leadership. They.Got.Stuff.Done!"

In the ten years since that first dedicated IT Leaders workshop, the leaders program in its several forms, has been offered over 80 times (including programs in the 2014-15 cycle) to some 2200 individuals from 36 universities.  

The number of staff necessary to deliver the program continues to increase from the five of us who began this venture to now include

Brian McDonald  •  Jim Bruce  •  Annie Stunden  •  Chris Paquette • Curtis Odom  •  Dan McDonald  •  Gary Augustson  •  Greg Anderson  •  Harold Pakulat  •  Jack Wolfe  •  Jim Dezieck  •  Leslie Alger  •  Lori Green  •  Kathy Pletcher  •  Maria  Corso  •  Rick Fredericks  •  Mike Sullivan  •  Rob Smyser • Sean McDonald  •  Susan Washburn  •  Alicia Jurus

It has been our privilege as well as our pleasure to serve each of you who have attended one of the leaders programs over the last ten years and the institutions who have trusted us with the development of their staff.  We value the relationships we have formed with you and look forward to supporting your development as you continue your leadership journey.

.  .  .  .    brian and jim

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