So I attended the Presidential Inauguration of my university’s new president yesterday and after listening to the speeches, it really got me thinking…and imagining.
Imagine you are the president of a university, sitting atop the stage, preparing to speak on all the wonderful things the school has and has done that drew you in as well as all the great things you hope it will do.
Now imagine the route you took to get there. Imagine the interviews and questions, talking to staff, students, and faculty. Imagine all the hand shaking and back slapping. Imagine the work you did to get here.
Also think about the role you had before that one, either as a president somewhere else or a provost or other role where they ask you to come interview from. Imagine how honored you feel.
Imagine all the way back to where you are now and what led you there.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and realized that it is very unlikely I personally will ever see the role of a president in my days. Because I want you to imagine something else…
Imagine the compromises that you’ve had to make, the family time you’ve given away, and the values you may have had to forsake. Imagine the things you’ve had to look away from for the sake of the university. Imagine getting there through the system with all of its imperfections and headaches.
I can only imagine myself there on my terms. I imagine myself changing the world and the system, adding back in the character, not becoming caught up in a scandal like so many headlines with institution presidents these days include. I imagine myself at my first professional interview and openly stating that I have values and beliefs and compromising them is not possible.
And I realize that the idea of being asked to scares me silly.