This is the third installment in a series of profiles of the North Bay's Most Influential Leaders. Nominations are welcome at www.northbaybusinessjournal.com.
Previously profiled: James A. Andersen, Dante Benedetti, Russell A. Colombo, David I. Freed, James B. Keegan, Brian Kelly, Thomas B. Klein, Gary D. Nelson, Steve Page, Lawrence Simons, Matt White, Jim Adams, Rachel M. Dollar, Rob McMillan, Al Coppin, Daniel J. Duckhorn, Mark Idhe, Stan Mead, Dave Siembieda and Iver Skavdal
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Joseph R. FinkTitle: President
Company: Dominican University of California
Company address: 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael 94901
Staff: 355 faculty, 171 full-time staff, 535 total including deans
Professional background: President, Misericordia University, Dallas, Pa., for nine years prior to becoming president at Dominican in 1988
Education: Ph.D., American History, Rutgers University; A.B., History, Rider University; Honorary doctorate degrees from Rider, College Misericordia and Golden Gate University
What do you see as the essential role of a leader in the current environment? The role of a leader is to establish a vision, to put together a team of people who support the vision and do it in a collaborative way, and to ensure it is transparent and has a great integrity. I think it’s become more important to be transparent than ever and to be collegial in your decision-making process.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry? In California, independent colleges are becoming better known for their contributions to higher education. And, with the shortfall in the economy in California, state institutions are in a condition of chaos. The master plan of higher education that was established a couple of decades ago no longer pertains because it is simply not being followed or funded. On a national level, there is a greater emphasis on online learning, and for-profit institutions of higher education have expanded dramatically. While online learning is a satisfactory way to learn, it’s not the best way because all learning does not take place in the four walls of a classroom. The social interaction amongst students is as important as any technical interaction. It’s important for students to have a liberal arts core because they are going to change jobs more than once, and they’re probably going to change careers more than once. We’re probably training people today for jobs that don’t even exist right now.
What advice would you give to young emerging leaders? The most important thing is to be bold in your thoughts and in your actions. And admit your mistakes. If you’re not going to be bold, why bother?
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment? To be true to your mission and to plan for the years that are going to occur once the economic environment comes back. Don’t plan only for tomorrow. Plan for the next several years.