The characteristics of leaders who can implement transformational change — and the reasons why higher education needs it — were the focus of Dr. Michele Wheatly’s public comments at her first presidential search open forum at The University of Toledo.One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Wheatly was the first to hold an open forum during candidate visits that will continue through next week. She is a professor and senior adviser to the president at West Virginia University.
Courage, the ability to reframe the problem, and a sense of urgency are the traits of leaders capable of the transformative change that is needed in higher education, Wheatly said.
She shared her career experience as a woman in the STEM disciplines working at West Virginia, Wright State University and the University of Florida, and how those experiences demonstrate the needed leadership traits for the next president of UT.
Wheatly also spoke of the importance of the performing arts and humanities as the way we learn empathy for people’s lived experiences, noting her classic British education and training in the humanities.
After the merger with the former Medical College of Ohio, UT is well-positioned for the transformative change needed in higher education, Wheatly said, because of its unified identity, system to support innovation, position in the community, and efforts to address access to education and health care.
“You have a lot of the foundation built, the launch platform — I mean, I love the Rocket symbology being a woman in science,” Wheatly said. “Everything is ready for the blastoff, but somebody needs to power up the engines.”
Wheatly answered questions from the audience about recruiting couples to the faculty, her views on shared governance, support of the humanities, commitment to diversity and community engagement, support of university libraries, the growth of online education, and mentorship of junior faculty members.
Wheatly will host another forum on Health Science Campus Friday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B.
If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Wheatly’s profile page on the presidential search website through Saturday, Feb. 21.
For more information on the presidential search and schedules for future forums visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.