“I am a servant leader,” chancellor candidate Austin Lane speaks to SIU community at forum

By Kallie Cox, News Editor

Austin Lane, former President of Texas Southern University, spoke about enrollment, his vision for the university and his skill set, during Tuesday’s forum.

Lane said he lives to serve students.

“I am a servant leader, I understand that I am here working for students, that I am here for faculty, I am here working for the staff, I am here to connect with the community,” Lane said. 

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Lane said he has the experience needed to work well with system President Daniel Mahony and to further his seven working groups. Lane said he can meet the requirements and goals outlined by the chancellor search committee.

“You said you wanted someone who could galvanize the university around a vision for its future and develop a plan to achieve it, that’s my speciality, that’s what I do best,” Lane said. “I have a lot of experience in strategic planning and shared vision.”

Lane said he can help to boost SIU’s enrollment.

“The focus on enrollment, that’s been my lifelong work,” Lane said. “Every institution that I have worked for I have focused on enrollment and been able to increase it. I have looked at the strategies that are being put in place right now at SIUC; hats off to the enrollment folks that are there, you are on the right track.”

Lane said he can help to leverage the full potential of the SIU system and he has experience making and acting on decisions strategically.

“That’s the only way I make decisions is really based on data and based on real strategy, not just on a whim or without data a lot of what I do is very strategic,” Lane said.

Chair of the chancellor search committee Marc Morris asked how Lane would help to further the Vision 2025 plan and reorganization and what he thought the university would look like five to ten years in the future.

“In order to build on the foundation and really cast this long-term vision for our campus, I really have to first make sure that the foundation is structurally sound and that we’re able to build on it with a shared vision,” Lane said.

Lane said he wanted to highlight the term ‘shared vision’ and he would go back and look at the 3,000 Vision 2025 survey responses and meet with various constituency groups on campus to determine what needs to be done.

“If selected as your next chancellor I would immediately launch ‘our shared vision’ sessions, this would probably take place in the first 30-45 days of me arriving and last through probably the fall semester,” Lane said. 

These sessions would gather feedback from faculty, staff, students, administrators and constituency groups, Lane said. He said this information would be used to create a new strategic plan for 2030.

“This would allow us to build on what you heard in 2017 and lay the foundation for our key performance indicators, our action steps and connecting it to President Mahony’s seven planning priorities,” Lane said. “That would be a lot of work but we would have to get on the ground and do it.”

Lane said in the future, SIU will be the leading producer of qualified graduates in a number of disciplines, it will become the state’s third university with a designation of very high research activity, it will be a first choice university for high school students and it will be a welcoming and attractive university for non-traditional students and veterans.

“We will be known for our best practices in enrollment management, student success and the support we provide all students especially those students with disabilities and who are first in their families to attend college,” Lane said.

Lane said the good, the bad and the ugly, the most defining moments of his career have been when he has been able to better support faculty, staff and students.

“The students are always the neutralizer or the equalizer, that’s why I get up and go to work every day is to make it better for them so they can have some of the same things we’ve enjoyed as we’ve gone through life,” Lane said.

Lane said he has a history and a track record of helping and enhancing institutions that have struggled with enrollment, strategic planning, employee morale, branding and athletics.

“I’ve been fortunate to have those experiences and to work with my staff and our campus community and to make them better,” Lane said. “I have acquired some best practices and real life leadership experiences, I’ve been sort of battle tested where it’s given me the ability to lead through tough times.”

Lane did not discuss and was not asked about his exit from TSU or the university’s ongoing investigation. 

(See more: Auditor’s report conflicts with Lane’s claims on TSU investigation.)

The full forum can be viewed here.

 News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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