Going Against Convention

Radford University had three choices when it set out to choose a new president: hire from within, hire a credentialed academic from another institution, or hire an unconventional candidate with a compelling skill set.

In choosing Penelope Kyle of the Virginia Lottery, Radford took the unconventional option.

Only time will tell if Ms. Kyle was the right choice, but I applaud Radford’s Board of Visitors for its willingness to take a risk on a candidate from outside of academia. Most institutions would benefit from the different perspective someone from outside the “club” brings.

From what I have read, my alma mater, William and Mary, is only considering conventional candidates for its presidency.

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  1. Will:

    What do you think of Sullivan leaving? Seems like you couldn’t ask for a stronger advocate for higher education…

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I’ve not been a fan of Sullivan’s politics, so I’m not sorry to see him go. He has maintained W&M’s academic reputation and standing during his tenure, however, so I respect his job performance and give him credit for successfully navigating the college through challenging times.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Interesting choice. My first reaction: What are Kyle’s qualifications to be a university president. Answer (according to Rex Bowman’s article): An ability to raise money.

    “Members of Radford’s faculty had generally favored Wartell, but the school’s board of visitors decided that Kyle, one of the nation’s longest-serving lottery directors, could help Radford raise money and increase its stature among the state’s schools. The board gave Kyle a five-year contract.”

    Hmmm. I wonder how she figures on raising money. Think she’ll hold a raffle?

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    It has always seemed to me that Radford was hurt by its reputation as a “party school.” Ms. Kyle’s background doesn’t exactly scream gravitas.

    Still, you and I know that a smart, committed person can handle most any job. The Board of Visitors must have seen something in Ms. Kyle that inspired them to believe she would shake things up, innovate, or do something that they felt was lacking in past leadership.

    I feel bad for the Yale guy, but Ivy League credentialed leaders haven’t exactly set the world on fire with innovation in our higher education system.

  5. Will: Greg Werkheiser donation get to you? It’s hard to imagine anyone with any connection to higher education paying heed to Dave Albo – guy put in a bill to eliminate Virginia’s tenure system…

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