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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Q&A; with Likins

    Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an interview with President Likins conducted April 11.

    Wildcat: What is your opinion is about student protesters?

    Likins: I think it is very healthy. … The students against sweatshops spent 10 nights in my anteroom in sleeping bags and I respected the way they handled themselves and I dealt with them in a respectful way. … That’s one of the things you learn, I think, in a college experience; is how to express your feelings and seek to create changes in society without breaking things. … You have to applaud that – whether you agree with them or not.

    Wildcat: You asked the legislature this year for increases of funding after years of insufficient funding to the universities. Give us your thoughts on how you balanced growing a Research I university while not getting the funding you need from the state.

    Likins: Investments of the people through state taxes in public universities have been in decline for 30 years. … There are some people in the Legislature who would say that you are educating too many damn students, let them eat cake, let them get a job for goodness sakes. … The way I get money today is to say, “”boy, give me a dollar to invest in a research building and the faculty will bring in $5.”” So it’s a good investment to build these buildings. … Politicians are willing to invest when they see a return on their investments.

    Wildcat: Are you overall satisfied with the progress of the Focused Excellence program?

    Likins: I know in my heart and my mind that Focused Excellence is right for this university. … In the end, it took $5 million off the budget. … Do I wish we had managed to re-structure $15 or $20 million instead of $5? Yeah, I do. But do I now see other targets for Robert Shelton to eliminate? No, I don’t. I don’t think he is going to come in here and go through that again.

    Wildcat: What do you think your greatest contribution is? What do you want to be remembered for?

    Likins: As university presidents go, I have had a wonderfully positive set of relationships with students. I get along with students, I get along with faculty and I’ve done a super job of raising money. I work very well with the governor and with some legislators, some more than others, and I love my team. I respect the deans and the faculty. In my day-to-day behavior, I have been very successful. Plus, I have handled crises well, whether it is the murder of the nursing faculty or a demonstration in my office.

    Wildcat: Do you have any favorite memories of being president?

    Likins: I will tell you what matters in my heart, it has been part of my life to bring a quality of inclusiveness that makes everyone feel like they belong there. … My cabinet was half male and half female, I don’t think there are very many university cabinets that have that characteristic. … But it is in fact a very diverse leadership team. That matters to me enormously. … I know at the top of this organization, I got it done.

    Wildcat: Is there anything in particular that you are going to miss about being university president?

    Likins: I don’t know, I have never not been president. … I’ve been one of those guys who was the student body president of junior high school, student body president of high school, captain of the football team and captain of the wrestling team. … I got out of high school at 16, I became engaged the night before my 18th birthday, I got married at 19, I was 20 when I got out of college, I was 21 when I got my master’s degree. Here I was, I was really banging along. … I have said in other situations talking to students about leadership that in retrospect I am not sure I was leading in the right way because what I was doing was winning. As I approach the end of my professional life, I really do feel like a servant leader. I do lead for (the students), I don’t lead for me anymore.

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