President John Delaney speaks about leadership

Colin McCann

On Mar. 14, UNF President John Delaney talked about his views on leadership and leadership styles. The talk was a part of the Leadership Speakers Bureau, which was hosted by the Taylor Leadership Institute.

Delaney began by clarifying that there are different kinds of leaders. Some are introverts, others extroverts, but these different types of leadership styles can have a positive impact in many different ways.

Colin McCann
UNF President John Delaney gave a talk about leadership with the director of the Taylor Leadership Institute, Richard Tryon.

“Leadership and management is really about decision making,” said Delaney. “And with more creative options presented to you, you can make a better decision.”

Delaney stresses the importance of having a team that thinks differently and isn’t afraid to speak up when they disagree.

“Even sometimes when I’m certain I’m right, if the people that I trust and that I ask to give me advice and recommendations, if they disagree, I’m probably going down the wrong path,” stated Delaney.

Delaney has said that former Jacksonville Mayor Ed Austin was a personal mentor for him, demonstrating how to lead. Delaney learned that changing your mind was okay, and no matter what decision you make, other people’s lives are affected. He mentioned that some people are reckless or overzealous, jumping into their decisions without considering the consequences.

Delaney said, “I think having a nature of second guessing yourself is healthy.”

Delaney then moved on to talking about a challenge he faced when starting out as President. He said convincing the campus that he was willing to listen and “not crazy” was something he had to do. He said he had to show that he was willing to learn and get input from faculty, staff, and students.

Regarding accomplishments, Delaney takes pride in the new buildings that have been constructed on campus, as well as the renovations. He is also UNF’s chief fundraiser, almost doubling the privately funded endowment during his presidency.

One of the questions Delaney was asked was what he enjoyed most about being UNF president.

“Student’s lives change as a result of being here,” answered Delaney.

He explained that he has enjoyed watching students grow, learn, and graduate. He is also proud to see UNF graduates staying in Jacksonville and making a positive impact on the local economy.

Another major accomplishment that Delaney said stood out to him was the rise in graduation rates amongst students with disabilities. He said the graduation rates and GPAs are almost exactly the same for students with and without disabilities.

He was then asked how to deal with instances where something didn’t go as expected, to which Delaney responded, “When making a decision, draw from it what you can, then you just have to move on and say okay, that’s how it went.”

Colin McCann
Attendees had the chance to ask Delaney questions after the lecture.

He said a leader has to confront failure, learn from it, but also not dwell on it. He believes there will always be criticism in a position of leadership.

One of the few things Delaney wishes he did differently during his presidency would be focusing more on shared governance and getting input from all areas of the university. Delaney said that although shared governance slows the rate at which things are completed, it is a benefit to the university, giving more of a voice to the student body.

The other is not being able to create the interfaith center. Delaney said the center has been discussed, planned, and designed for ten years. However, in the area of funds, they are 1.5 million dollars short.

Delaney’s advice to graduating students is to listen/understand, make a decision, and implement that decision, emphasizing the importance of that last step.

As for what’s next, he said he will be joining a law firm in Jacksonville, as well as working part-time for a lobbying firm. However, he plans to take the summer off to spend time with his wife.

Delaney’s last day will be May 31. If the Board of Governors approve him on March 29, David Szymanski will take his place on June 1.

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