President Norton gives State of the University
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 02:09
Just as the President of the United States address the nation in the State of the Union, UNC President Kay Norton took to the stage Tuesday in the University Center Ballrooms to address students, faculty and community members with her State of the University address.
Norton, who became the 12th president of the University of Northern Colorado in July 2002, began her speech by outlining the 10 lessons she has learned during her presidency.
She emphasized the importance of building relationships with both the university and the respective governing bodies on campus. She admitted to often failing to do so in the initial years of her presidency, say she often tried to project her own opinions rather than listen to others’.
She spoke on the importance to show patience as president of a university, discussed in her fifth lesson, “Crisis Does Not Produce Change,” which introduced one of her plans for moving further.
“We are now developing multi-year plans that address nine areas comprising UNC’s core mission and five major university-wide support functions,” Norton said.
She stressed the importance of moving away form a Machiavellian governing nature, which led directly into her fourth and second lessons: “What invigorates some people terrifies others” and “Leadership is a shared responsibility.”
“I believe we are developing a UNC leadership culture consistent with what we value,” Norton said. “The new model of leadership, flexibility, creativity and confidence without arrogance, welcome the contributions and talents of others.”
The state’s continued budget cuts to higher education was also a highly-discussed component of the speech, in which Norton stressed the importance to keep moving forward.
“We have learned how to talk about UNC in a way that gets people’s attention,” Norton said. “Our ‘Bringing Education to Life’ campaign is about celebrating who we are and articulating it in a way that helps us spread the word about what a unique and wonderful place UNC is.”
This was further explained in her sixth lesson, titled “The Funding Model for Public Higher Education is Irretrievably Broken,” her seventh lesson, “A University Should Not Be Run Like a Business” and her eighth lesson, “Bigger Isn’t Always Better.”
“When the state made its latest budget cuts, we focused instead on how we will continue to fulfill our promise of offering transformative education delivered in a fiscally sustainable way,” Norton said.
Her plan to counteract the suspected continued budget cuts were found in lesson one, “The Human Factor is Essential” and lesson three, “Freedom to be Creative Requires Freedom to Fail.’
“We need just enough structure to avoid chaos and anarchy but not so much we undue creativity,” she said. “Creativity flourishes and creative thinking gets turned into action. Real progress and innovation require the lessons of failure.”
Her last two lessons, “Perspective Matters” and “You Have to be Honest With Yourself” culminated her 10 years of learning the importance of building relationships with those around her.
“Recognize what you’re able to do, what you’re willing to do and what the needs of that institution are,” Norton said. “Understand the limits of your ability and what comes naturally to you. My past 10 years at UNC have been a true education.”
After the speech, Norton opened the floor up to questions to which she addressed concern about UNC becoming more disconnected to the Greeley community. Norton reassured the attendees the University has been continually building upon an already stable relationship with the city. She also used many of the upcoming homecoming events as examples.
“You have to have real, sometimes difficult conversations,” Norton said. “You have to take time and listen to what people are saying.”