Myles Brand Oral History Interviews


Part one

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SCARPINO: Well, the recorder is on, and Dr. Brand I would like to thank you for the record for being kind enough to sit with us. We are in the NCAA headquarters and interviewing Dr. Myles Brand in a conference room in that building. I would like to ask your permission for the record to record this interview, to have the interview transcribed, and to deposit the recordings and the transcriptions in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives for the use of the patrons.

BRAND: Yes, that would be fine.

SCARPINO: Thank you. We are going, as I said when the recorder was off, to just kind of go chronologically through your career with a focus on leadership. I note that you were born May 17th, 1942, but can you tell us for the record where you were born?

BRAND: Brooklyn, New York.

SCARPINO: OK. You still have a little of the accent. [laughing]

BRAND: Oh, I lost, I thought I lost it.

SCARPINO: Can you tell us a little bit about who your parents were?

BRAND: Neither of my parents are college educated—middle class, lower middle class. My mother stayed home. I think she never went beyond high school. I believe she has a high school diploma, had a high school diploma. They’re both deceased now. My father had a few years of college, was in various businesses through his life, mostly on the engineering type approach. He wasn’t himself an engineer but was involved in design and some start-up businesses. I would say probably a minor entrepreneur. I grew up in an extended family with my grandparents; one sister. While we were never poor we did have our ups and downs and never got too far up but sometimes got pretty far down and that has made me rather conservative with my own personal finances, I must say. But it was a—I enjoyed growing up in Brooklyn. I played a lot of basketball and handball and stickball in the streets. I enjoyed that and then when I was a teenager my parents moved to Long Island, and so I went to high school in Long Island.

SCARPINO: As you look back on it, did your parents have an influence on the leader that you eventually became?

BRAND: I don’t think so, to be frank about it. They had high expectations and although they themselves did not have a college education, I thought they understood the value of education, and it was just assumed in my family that I would go to college. Unfortunately, it was not so assumed with my sister, but it was assumed that I would go to college and I never questioned that, and of course it was a good thing.

SCARPINO: Where did you go to high school?

BRAND: I went to high school on Long Island at a high school called Carle Place. We didn’t live there. I was bused in from another community, which was a middle class split level community. Played high school sports; didn’t like high school very much except for the sports. Most of the reading I did on myself, by myself I should say, and it—I found high school years ones to live through.

SCARPINO: Did you think of yourself as a leader in any capacity when you were in high school?

BRAND: No, not at all.

SCARPINO: As you look back on the years that you were in high school when you were reading on your own and so forth, were there any events that took place that you either participated in or knew about that influenced the leader you became—that helped to shape the person you became?

BRAND: I think I began to develop a love of learning. I think I actually began that rather early while living in Brooklyn. Some of the most exciting times for me in Brooklyn were going to the library, and I just loved to walk around the stacks—and this was a sixth grader or fifth grader—just loved to walk around the stacks and pull books out and take them home to read it, and I think that continued in high school too. I think my love of learning evolved in high school. I could probably think of a few instances I had in which I would meet with teachers outside of the classroom and that was always a treat.

SCARPINO: You earned your Bachelor of Science and philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964. Why Rensselaer and why philosophy?

BRAND: Well, I was a child of the Sputnik era, and as I mentioned my father had an interest, at least peripheral one, in things engineering. It had to be vocational, practical. That was part of the family ethos. And I was good in math and science so obviously I went to engineering school. Somewhere in the middle of that career about the second year, also having worked during the summers as a draftsman, I decided I certainly didn’t want to spend my time doing that. I remember one summer—this was when the data processing equipment was first being designed and invented—I spent a whole summer designing a mechanism that was connected to a—punching in and punching out at work. So what this was supposed to do is you punch in at work each day and at the end of the week a check comes out. So this was electronic data processing equipment, which was very new in the early sixties, and so my job for that whole summer was design the mechanism where the card goes in and the information is taken; it pushes the card back up. I realized I just spent three summers designing something for a card to come popping back up, and I said that was not a good use of my time. So, I spent some time then saying well, I really don’t want to spend my life doing this. I like math and science, but this is not a good way to do it. So I struggled for a summer, and I think I changed majors three times that summer. I was an architect for a week but was convinced I didn’t know how to draw so [laughing] that didn’t do me any good. Here’s the most important thing that happened to me while I was in college—I met a faculty member who taught philosophy. It was a very significant influence on my life. I looked at my bookshelf and I had more philosophy books than I had math and science books and I said, this is what I was really interested in. But, I was at a technical school, which I enjoyed, and I liked so I didn’t want to transfer. So I only had a little bit of time to take philosophy courses but even though I had a philosophy major, how many philosophy majors have four year series analysis and differential equations as part of their preparation? But that particular faculty member I met and became enamored with the learning that took place in those classes, and out of school. That was I think the most significant influence on me. I mean my goal at that point in my life was to be a faculty member and to teach philosophy.

SCARPINO: What was the faculty member’s name who influenced?

BRAND: His name is Robert Whalen. I remember it well. Unfortunately, he’s passed away too. Very interesting. He was, I think, a significantly good teacher but not a researcher. I remember when I was in graduate school and starting to write research papers and I went back, and they invited me back to Rensselaer to read a paper to the philosophy department, and I was just overtaken at that time, the fact that they really didn’t know a lot about contemporary philosophy. It didn’t take me very long to understand that that’s what it was. It wasn’t about that for them. They were teaching students. So he’s been an important influence on my life about the importance of teaching and faculty members and undergraduates and most assuredly waking me up to professional philosophy.

SCARPINO: Did you engage in any leadership type activities while you were at Rensselaer?

BRAND: Yeah. I was head of the Rensselaer Magazine which was an important post on the campus and member of various other groups and tended to assume the leadership roles in those groups but I never paid a lot of attention to that. That wasn’t primarily what I was after. I was mostly after the learning that took place, the excitement of learning about Plato and Aristotle and writing an undergraduate thesis and thinking about graduate school. That’s what really turned me on, but I also participated in, I was highly engaged in, campus activities.

SCARPINO: Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity?

BRAND: Yeah, it’s just a men’s fraternity, yeah. And I lived there for a few years as well. So I was socially active, socially engaged, and engaged in various groups and had some awards that came with it but mostly I was interested in the learning that took place.

SCARPINO: Were there any events that took place during your college years that you either participated in or knew about that influenced the leader you became?

BRAND: I don’t think so. [laughing] I mean I—I wasn’t focused on those issues. They were secondary to the interest I had in the books and in the ideas. I mean I really had great joy in thinking about these philosophical ideas. They were wide open to me. Remember I came from, it was not quite a working class family, but these ideas never came up in high school. They were rattling around in my head and here was a chance to talk to people about them and talk to other students about them and engage in debate clubs with my friends. That’s what was exciting.

SCARPINO: Were you the first person in your family to go to college?

BRAND: Yes, yes.

SCARPINO: You earned the Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1967. What attracted you to Ph.D. work?

BRAND: Well, somewhere in the last year or two of college I understood that I needed a Ph.D. to become a faculty member and I was just learning this and I had no idea. The faculty member, Robert Whalen, I would ask him questions that now seem very naïve, but he was very helpful in directing me. Of course there were no resources to do it so one of the reasons I chose the graduate school that I did was who would give me some financial support. That was important. I also learned one important thing at Rensselaer and—I learned many important things—but one was how to work hard. I mean I really knew how to work hard as an engineer because you’d go to class in those days, 40 hours a week including labs, and then you’d have massive homework assignments. So I just took a 14-16 hour day of studying and doing that work as par for the course. That’s what I learned to expect. I should also say that I enjoyed the math and sciences courses. I never got tired of the coursework. I just didn’t want to do that for a living, but I never got tired of that. So, I did have a good strong math and science background that I got there. I might mention that I’m now on the Board of Trustees of Rensselaer, so I’ve got a little chance to pay back.

SCARPINO: So you went for the Ph.D. really more out of a love of learning.


SCARPINO: The desire to be a faculty member.

BRAND: Yes. And I did that in two and a half years from undergraduate school to Ph.D., including writing the dissertation and without a lot of preparation. I don’t think my colleagues on the graduate program, frankly, understood the work ethic the same way I did at that point and just really embraced it and worked non-stop for two and a half years and enjoyed every minute of it.

SCARPINO: And you finished the dissertation in that time period?

BRAND: Yes, yes. Well actually it was a little earlier than that but I couldn’t graduate until two and a half years later.

SCARPINO: [laughing] That’s astonishing actually. I probably shouldn’t say that for the record. It’s really astonishing. You went to the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Philosophy in 1967 to ’72?


SCARPINO: Why did you, what brought you to Pittsburgh?

BRAND: That was one of the outstanding philosophy departments in the country, one of the top three. I don’t know, you can debate about, people like to play those numbers in the same way they like to play numbers with athletic teams. So it was a great opportunity for me to go into an absolutely first class philosophy department and I enjoyed that and jumped at the chance. Actually what I did while I was there for the first couple of years is I audited a lot of the classes of the senior faculty members. I thought of it as a post doc [laughing] in retrospect but it was still a learning experience for me.

SCARPINO: And you earned tenure there?

BRAND: No, I did not. I was there about five years and you know, at that point they were very senior, very established faculty members, but they didn’t necessarily want to do all the service work in the department so they asked the younger people, myself included, to pick up some of that. One of the things I did is—it was a rather large graduate class, a couple dozen at a time were coming out and those were the times when you could still get jobs—and so they asked me to oversee the placing of the graduate students who were finishing their dissertations, most of whom, if not all of whom, were older than I was. I spent a couple of years doing that and I think I did it reasonably well and enjoyed that part of the administrative work. I did other things for the department and got involved in various committees and I enjoyed that as a complement to the scholarly work which I was doing full time as well. So after about five years, or four years, I had an opportunity to become a chairman of the department.


BRAND: At University of Illinois at Chicago.

SCARPINO: University of Illinois at Chicago.

BRAND: Right, which was also a very good philosophy department and that seemed like a great idea.

SCARPINO: How did that opportunity come your way?

BRAND: I was searching for a job. I mean it didn’t look to me like I had a good, long-term future at Pittsburgh. There was such a split between junior and senior people that after my self-imposed post doc and having gone to couple of their courses which I learned and enjoyed, I said I’m going to have to set out someplace else if I’m going to make a name for myself, position myself and at that point I had already learned to like administration. I liked the idea of doing both—doing the teaching and research on the one side but also doing the administration. I found them complementary. To try my hand in a leadership role at a head of a major philosophy department was a great opportunity so I jumped at it.

SCARPINO: Why do you think that you were the successful applicant for that position? I mean, any ideas as you look back on that?

BRAND: Well I came from a very good philosophy department. I had a solid research program in place at that time. So I had all the academic credentials and I think I was beginning to understand that I had some native skills in terms of administration and leadership, and they kind of evolved at that point. So obviously I went through an interview process and I was successful.

SCARPINO: You were, if I did the math right, about 30 then?

BRAND: Yeah, 29 or 30.

SCARPINO: How did a relatively young 30-year-old lead an established department?

BRAND: Well, it was an interesting department. Remember, these were sort of the golden years of academics and because the student population increased so much and a lot of new people had come into the academy. This was a politically active department as well, in Chicago. I remember we would have our department meetings that would start about five in the afternoon and about ten or eleven at night we’d send out for pizzas. Everyone in the department had a vote including the secretaries. It was very egalitarian and that was my thinking at the time as well. I think there was a natural fit between the perspective of those people in the department, who were all very good philosophers but a little on the younger side, and my own perspective and we just enjoyed working together. It was in, the University of Illinois Chicago as you probably know, is in the city. We used to call it Chicago Circle. Urban university, not unlike IUPUI, and so it was an activist department with political points of view and engaged in Chicago and national politics and it was the Vietnam War era still. So it was a very good fit for my interests at the time and I think that played a role.

SCARPINO: What were your goals as chair of that department—your leadership goals?

BRAND: I saw myself as a representative of the department, that I was an advocate for them. So if someone from the department came up for tenure it was my job to make sure that that case went through. I would have my vote and my say in the department but once it left the department, it was my role to be an advocate. So I saw myself as a representative of that group. Now, I wasn’t shy about stating my own views and never have been, but I would do it in a circle in which we would have a democratic debate and we’d reach a conclusion. Not always the way I voted at first but nonetheless when that was settled, it was my job then to move forward with it. I liked the idea of being an advocate for something, for a group of people whom I felt positively and strongly about and who I want to support.

SCARPINO: How would you characterize your leadership style as a department chair?

BRAND: More than consultative. I mean some people have told me that they felt intimidated and I never did understand that because my goal was always, I think, to elicit conversation, open discussion, and vote. We voted on everything more than once and felt good about it and the fact that we were working together. So I saw myself as the leading representative of the department, but one vote, and it was a consultative group approach.

SCARPINO: I mean, academics can be sometimes a relatively challenging group of people to lead.

BRAND: Absolutely, and I wouldn’t say in that environment we always agreed at the end. But I think everyone had his or her say, and I think we were able, the best we could, to go forward as a group and I saw my leadership, to the extent it was leadership at that point, as bringing people together and reaching consensus and developing the best ideas and not imposing my will.

SCARPINO: Were there any events that took place while you were chair at the University of Illinois Chicago that influenced your development as a leader?

BRAND: Oh I did it for a long time. I finally got tired of it, but I did it…

SCARPINO: Up until 1980 I think, ‘72 to ‘80?

BRAND: Yeah, so I did it for about eight years which was a long run, and at that point I was working on a book and I said, “OK, that’s enough. I want to take time out.” I was certainly due for a sabbatical and said I’m going to work on a book and I’m going to step away. So I stepped away and spent a lot of time working on the book. In fact, I spent one year sitting in my chair writing, and I have to tell you, I was bored. I think it was a good book. [laughing] That’s not the point. I’m pleased…

SCARPINO: We looked up the reviews. [laughter]

BRAND: …I mean I’m still pleased about the book so I’m happy about that. But the pure scholarly life at that point wasn’t enough. I enjoyed the fuss and muss of administration, and when I was at Illinois I really made an effort to become engaged on the campus level as an advocate for the department. So I sat on every tenure and promotion committee there was, besides just those that looked at philosophy or arts and sciences papers. I did have a ponytail and a big red mustache at the time. So it was a different time. [laughter] But, and some of my colleagues there in other departments looked askance at me, but be that as it may—I made a real effort and spent my time engaging in the campus administration as much as you could as a department chair and I think I learned a lot and enjoyed it. So when I went to my study and just worked on my book, that wasn’t enough.

SCARPINO: One of the questions that I wanted to ask you—and I actually didn’t know about the mustache or the ponytail—is how does a philosopher exercise leadership outside of his own department?

BRAND: I think I’m very value-oriented. Maybe this has to do with what attracted me to philosophy. I think there are merits in doing things one way rather than another and there’s a certain degree of intellectual honesty that I find very important. I don’t like shortcuts in the pejorative sense. I mean, I think that we really have to do things the right way, and I carried those values with me to all the committees that I was involved in and I was willing to spend the time and energy doing it. I’m not a particularly shy person, so sitting around the table I would speak up and I think I, more or less, my colleagues at Chicago Circle appreciated that. In any case, I kept getting appointed to these committees and worked hard at it. When I had to do promotion and tenure papers, which could be hundreds of papers, I would really go through each one and do it very carefully. Very conscientious—it’s the work ethic left over from Rensselaer. And so I think I tried to do a conscientious, good job.

SCARPINO: In 1981, must have been at the end of your sabbatical, you moved from the University of Illinois Chicago to the University of Arizona.

BRAND: Yeah.

SCARPINO: What I’d like to do before I talk to you about your experiences there is to drop some of our standard leadership questions into the mix.


SCARPINO: But I’m going to ask you if there’s anything—this is John Beeler—I’m going to ask you if there’s anything you wanted to ask before I move on.

Beeler: I’ll wait.

SCARPINO: OK. I noticed you were taking notes there, and see if I left anything out. So I sent you these questions ahead of time and what we’re doing with these questions is that all of the different individuals that we talk to on the subject of leadership—Tom Ehrlich, for example, a couple of weeks ago—we ask them a common corpus of questions and hope that over time we’ll have some reference points. So what do you read?

BRAND: What do I read now?


BRAND: Or, we’re talking about…?

SCARPINO: You can tell us, maybe start with what you read now and then maybe tell us a little bit about how that’s changed over time.

BRAND: Yeah. I’m not reading as much philosophy as I used to, but I still read a lot of philosophy. The journals—Philosophical Review, Journal of Philosophy News, so all the standard journals and philosophy books in my own specialty. But I’m reading more novels now as well as more nonfiction. I like history. I just read a book called Blood and Thunder about the history of Kit Carson and the southwest and kind of like American history. I love the great outdoors and spend a lot of time so I like kind of those adventures stories, the true adventure stories, the historical ones. So I read that and I read a lot of sports stuff these days. I read a couple of newspapers. Wake up in the morning with a cup of coffee and the New York Times. I do not read the Indianapolis Star but I do read the New York Times regularly. When I come in the office I usually read USA Today which has the best sports page. That’s kind of job-oriented. I’m supposed to read Sports Illustrated, but amongst friends, I don’t really enjoy it. [laughing] So I do read some sports magazines just to keep up time. I read the Chronicle for Higher Education. I continue to have administrative perspectives. I’m not a voracious reader but I do read a lot.

SCARPINO: Do you think a leader should read?

BRAND: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I think nothing substitutes for reading. I mean you can watch the broadcast media all you like but they’re digesting it, pre-digesting it for you, and it’s worse now in the new media where you have a lot of opinion engaged with the news and sometimes you can’t tell the difference. But, no, I think reading is absolutely essential.

SCARPINO: Do you ever read about other leaders?

BRAND: You know, I try to do that and I’m not very interested in it. [laughter] You know, sometimes there’s a good story but I don’t, people send me copies of business books on strategic planning and/or how Jack Welch did this or something. I don’t ever read any of that. I’ve tried and I don’t find it interesting.

SCARPINO: Who, in your opinion, do you think are important leaders?

BRAND: I think some of our scientists are important leaders. I think some of our political leaders are very important. They help shape our lives. I think those who have direct influence on people—mentors, if you like—faculty members, teachers, elementary school teachers are important. I think parents are important. Anyone who affects the lives, particularly in the developmental phase of people, young people, are important leaders.

SCARPINO: Are there leaders who inspired you personally?

BRAND: You know, that’s a hard question to answer. I was influenced, as I mentioned, by Robert Whalen because he got me on to the thinking about philosophical concepts. He wasn’t a leader. He was a faculty member. I guess the leaders that I find most interesting are people I read about. So Bertrand Russell was a person that I found as an important leader. He—brilliant philosopher and mathematician, but also a social activist, and managed to do both, and I think of Russell as having had enthusiasms. So at one time he was a conscientious objector for World War I and in fact, was imprisoned for it, which he wrote some of his best philosophy books while he was in prison. He started several private schools later in his life and did that. Some things about Russell in his personal life that aren’t particularly attractive, but his intellect was always exciting to me, and I did read a lot about his biographies and autobiography. So he was an important figure. Earlier on in my life Socrates was an important figure for me, again, in terms of, it’s the make believe, the Platonic Socrates not necessarily the historical one, but the interest in getting to the truth and asking hard questions and I’m willing to admit he didn’t know everything. As a younger person, as a younger philosopher, I don’t know if I modeled myself after him but I certainly spent a lot of time thinking about what would Socrates do. So those were the kinds of influences that I had.

SCARPINO: Do you think the ability to ask hard questions is the mark of a leader?

BRAND: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think that’s a critical part of being a leader. To get to the strategic core of what the issue is. To break away from the distractions and the provocative marginal issues but figure out what’s really going on here. What’s the core. And to draw that out of people. For example, I’ve been engaged in the university administration many times in creating plans of action for people and what I learned was that you don’t impose a plan of action, a strategic plan on anyone. You draw it out of them and sometimes they don’t even know that they have it. So asking those hard questions and pressing them, and engaging in that dialogue, always seemed to me to be a critical part of leadership.

SCARPINO: Are you drawn to leaders who combine scholarship or scholarly activity with social activism?

BRAND: I am, but I don’t think that’s a necessary condition of being a leader. I mean, some of our leaders, I think, are far more intuitive than that. People like Martin Luther King are far more intuitive than that and see, and Gandhi, and see and understand it, but aren’t necessarily scholars or, you know, some people like Churchill is both a scholar and a leader. So it’s a mixed bag. I don’t think being an intellectual is a necessary ingredient for being a leader. I do think being smart is.

SCARPINO: Do you think that part of the exercise of intelligence as a leader is the ability to identify intelligence in other people and surround yourself with people who may even be smarter than you are?

BRAND: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with that more. I mean I, I think someone if they find themselves in a leadership position, has to get the very best people they can find and if they’re smarter and know more than you, what a great advantage that is. But then you have to be able to depend upon them and trust them. I mean the last thing you should do is tell them what you think the answer is or try to micromanage them. If you’re going to bring in smart, productive, insightful people, turn them loose and get out of the way.

SCARPINO: You mentioned Whalen, but in addition to him, who helped you along the way?

BRAND: I had another faculty member who was my dissertation advisor who, unfortunately also passed away; a man named Richard Taylor, who was a very well-known philosopher and a very nice man and I enjoyed his company. I learned from him and I think he provided some guidance. I’m not very good at accepting help and so sometimes I find my own way when it might be better if I had a little more guidance. There aren’t very many people in my life that I could identify as saying having helped me along the way, although some clearly have.

SCARPINO: Were there people in your life who you could, in leadership terms, who you could identify as mentors?

BRAND: Well, Whalen was probably the closest that came to that, but not really, and I didn’t seek that out. I think whether it’s an independent streak or what have you, I didn’t seek out mentors. I know how much people talk about the need for mentors and I’ve had a number of people, more than I can count, come to me and say, “Will you be my mentor?” And I’m more than happy to help anyone but I never did that and I didn’t see that as something I wanted to do.

SCARPINO: So you have mentored others?

BRAND: Oh, yes. Many times.

SCARPINO: In areas of leadership?

BRAND: Sometimes in areas of leadership, people who have come to me and say that, you know, I want to become an academic administrator or become a university president or want to become a philosopher and I’m more than happy to do that. I’ve always felt pleased that I’ve been able to do that. I’ve had a number of people come to me, members of minority groups and women, and I take special pride in being able to be responsive to them. So I’m more than happy to help if they want it. I don’t volunteer it, but when they want to do it I’m more than happy to help.

SCARPINO: How have you functioned as a mentor? What is it that you try to get someone to do?

BRAND: I usually have a cup of coffee with them and sit down once a week and talk to them. I do it in an informal way. I don’t give them assignments. They come for questions and advice and I give them my best efforts and then become advocates for them in the appropriate settings and feel that I can recommend them or assist them in any way, and I do.

SCARPINO: I mean when I asked you the question the first time you mentioned that you had, you volunteered that you had mentored women and minorities. Do you think that’s an important role that you played in helping to shape the next generation of leaders?

BRAND: Oh, absolutely. I think, I believe a leader should have a social conscience. I continue, and again, this is part of the upbringing, certainly starting in graduate school and thereafter and certainly at Chicago Circle, where I think my social conscience grew and I’ve never parted with that. So to the extent that I can help others who, for reasons other than intellect and ability, are being denied opportunity, I see my role, and maybe sometimes too forcefully, but my role is to help promote them and assist them.

SCARPINO: Do you think that networks play a role in the development of a successful leader?

BRAND: Oh, I think they do and I’ll give you an example. When I started to move from full-time faculty member and I consider what I, a department head, I considered that as a faculty member. I was doing part-time administrative work which wasn’t a burden. Oh, and I started to move that into— and moved into a full-time university administration, and I found that the best way to make those moves and the most exciting way to make it was to actually change universities. As a sideline I might say, every now and then I’d come home and tell my wife, Peg, “Life’s an adventure,” she would start packing. So I enjoyed moving from university to university, new places, but whenever I did that, the first thing I did was I talked to my philosopher friends at the university. What do you think of this? What are the opportunities? Would you write me a letter for someone from that campus, to the search committee, and I thought the networks of friends I made were very helpful.

SCARPINO: What do you think are the qualities that distinguish effective leadership?

BRAND: That’s an important and difficult question. I think a deep sense of honesty is critical, certainly with yourself, but about the issues too—truthfulness and honesty. I think an unbridled respect for other people—their opinions and their well-being. I think a willingness to examine in depth, the issues, and that’s both time consuming and could be intellectually draining. And I do have a bias. I mean, I think to be a good leader one has to be smart. To be a demagogue you don’t have to be smart, but to be a leader you do. I think that is an essential ingredient and how you use that ability to understand the issues, to create the background and context you need to understand it and then apply it in a socially conscious way is important.

SCARPINO: Do you think that the exercise of power or authority are qualities that a leader should possess? The ability to exercise power and authority?

BRAND: If that’s the goal, the likelihood is you’re going to be a bad leader. I mean, power and authority comes with leadership positions. I think they have to be used very carefully and understand that more often than not that’s a deficit and a problem you have to overcome in order to provide the kind of leadership that is productive.

SCARPINO: As you look at other leaders, what criteria do you use to define successful leadership?

BRAND: I believe in getting things done, so there’s feel-good politics, so to speak, where it makes you feel good if you’re pursuing a certain goal and it seems to be the socially responsible goal, but nothing’s going to happen. I think that’s a waste of time, but I think practical politics—you have to pick out the right goals and have to know why you’re pursuing them. But how you get there and what it takes to get there is part of being a good leader. You have to accomplish your goals. It isn’t just having good goals.

SCARPINO: How did you go about picking your goals?

BRAND: Well, my personal goals were more opportunistic. But in terms of goals, for example, whenever I was in an administrative position, whether it was chairman of the philosophy department at Circle or president of the university, I always identified myself with the institution. So I saw myself as the philosophy department. I saw myself as the university. And so my success as a university president was tied exactly to whether the university succeeded. If the university succeeded, I succeeded. If not, I don’t care what I did, I wasn’t a success. So tying myself to the group that I represented was critically important.

SCARPINO: And you continue to function that way as a leader in your current position?

BRAND: Absolutely. I mean it’s, there are some controversies connected with intercollegiate athletics and so I think I figured out I can’t get everything done, but if I can’t get anything done and if I, it won’t work and I identify myself with the NCAA and, you know, for better or for worse. But, I think if you separate yourself from and see yourself independent of who you’re representing and what you’re a part of trying to get done then you’re working for yourself and it’s self-aggrandizement and that’s not what a leader does. A leader, whether if it’s of an institution or a group of people, is really trying to promote their interests. Once you begin to look at yourself rather than the organization you represent, I think the game’s lost.

SCARPINO: I’m going to move away from our standard questions and start to ask you some questions about your activities at the University of Arizona but once again I’m going to ask John Beeler if he wants to follow up before I do that.

Beeler: Actually, just a simple one. Could you spell Robert Whalen, his last name in particular?


SCARPINO: In 1981 you accepted the position as head of the department of philosophy at the University of Arizona and you served as head from 1981 to ‘83 and then began a six year stay at Arizona during which you held several positions. Why Arizona? And, the follow-up question to that is—is there a distinction, or was there a distinction between chair and head?

BRAND: Yeah. Let me answer the second one first. There is. A department head, at least early on, at those times when I did it, was someone appointed by the administration. A chair was elected by the department. And so, for example, at Illinois at Chicago, I was elected every two years. So I was representing, I was an elected official if you like, as opposed to an appointed chair. And I’m not sure that that distinction is universal, but at least in my experience it’s been made that way.

SCARPINO: I mean, in my discipline it is. There’s a difference between head and chair but I wanted to be sure that that was the case.

BRAND: Well, so I was the chair. I was always elected by the department members. At that point my wife and I were living on a small farm on the Illinois/Wisconsin border with our horses. I’m a great fan of outdoor activity as I mentioned, and I took our sabbatical in ‘79 in New Mexico where we lived on a little ranch and had some horses as well, and I’ve done horse packing in the Yukon. I mean, I’m not sure there were too many university presidents who could throw a diamond hitch or break a horse. So, we were living on this little farm on the Illinois/Wisconsin border and it—we thought, boy it would be nice to take our horses and go someplace where we can ride more often and it was warm. And so I had a dear friend who was at the Arizona—this goes back to the networking forum—dear friend in Arizona and they were looking for a chair and I contacted him and said gee, that might be fun and so I pursued that.

SCARPINO: Do you still ride?

BRAND: Oh, sure.

SCARPINO: Well I have my undergraduate degree from a university where one of the continuing ed courses was horse packing.

BRAND: Oh, good. There you go.

SCARPINO: Missoula, Montana.

BRAND: So you know what I’m talking about when I say diamond hitch.

SCARPINO: I used to work for the forest service in a different life.

BRAND: I know. Barrel hitches are better, but…

SCARPINO: So you served as head of the department of philosophy at the University of Arizona and you did indicate that there is a distinction between head and chair, and that in one case you’re elected and the other case you appointed.

BRAND: Right.

SCARPINO: Was there a difference in the way you exercised leadership when you became head of a department as opposed to chair?

BRAND: Well, I don’t think I was ever head. Does that say head?

SCARPINO: Yeah, that’s why I asked you.

BRAND: I was elected at Arizona too, so it wasn’t a consistent use of the term, but I was elected.

SCARPINO: OK. What did you take away from that experience at Arizona that influenced your development as a leader?

BRAND: That actually gave me a chance to become a university administrator. I always thought of a department chair as part of the department and not necessarily administrator. I was still on the labor side, not the management side. But I was chair of the search committee for the dean of social and behavioral sciences at the time there. I was there about two years and it was an unsuccessful search. There were some good candidates that were identified, but for one reason or another they all turned it down, and so the president at the time asked me if I’d be willing to serve as an interim dean, which I did for about six or nine months then was appointed dean. That was an eye opener. I remember I came back, we were living about 75 miles southeast of Tucson on a ranch at the time and I came back to my wife and I said, “You know, they asked me to be interim dean,” and she said, “Don’t do it. You’re going to be an administrator…” and Peg’s also a faculty member and a philosopher and she said don’t do it. And I said, “Oh, I’ll just do it for a little bit.” Well, she of course was right, and I enjoyed it and I think I did a reasonably good job. So I became the dean of social and behavioral sciences and then in that period of time, a year or two later, became dean of the four colleges, making up arts and sciences and I was sort of coordinating dean as well as the dean of that particular college.

SCARPINO: I actually noted the term coordinating dean and that’s what it was, it was a multi…?

BRAND: Right, right, so it was a large arts and sciences college that broke into four parts and so I was the dean of one, had about 225 faculty. So and then they asked me to coordinate all the parts in, I think, the last year I was there or something.

SCARPINO: What did you learn about leadership as a dean?

BRAND: I was outside the departments now and I had to figure out who my constituents were. My constituents were the chairs and heads of the departments, and so I had to learn how to work with them. And so now I saw my job as representing that group of heads and chairs to the central administration. So it was just movement away from representing the faculty members to the dean, now representing the chairs and the departments to central administration. So I carried those same principles with me. But I found that I enjoyed it and found I was pretty good at it, so that made it better.

SCARPINO: What do you think made you good at it?

BRAND: Probably the same things that worked at the departmental level. You know, listening to people, trying to build consensus, trying to understand what the issues were, being a good representative and advocate.

SCARPINO: It also sounds as though, at this point at least, you had to have a real ability to sell ideas to people in higher positions.

BRAND: I think that’s right. That’s a fair comment and I can think of a particular instance of that that I think served the college well. That was that there was something called decision packages where you had a request from central administration, a certain incremental funding which they then took to the state and there were two of those that I pushed. One was to start a cognitive science program, and I remember speaking with state legislators in the early eighties in Arizona about cognitive science, and they didn’t have a clue what it was. It was great fun trying to help them understand what it was. But I also came forward with a social and behavioral sciences institute which allowed people to take time off to do their research and it really helped the research side of the agenda. I also played a role in reshaping, at that point, the undergraduate curriculum. The president asked me to re-do the undergraduate curriculum in arts and sciences, and that was a full college-wide approach, and so I got deeply into all those issues and enjoyed doing that. Some of it was sales in the sense of helping persuade people what the issue was, but it’s also— I learned how to be flexible and listen and to change and had to meet goals. I thought that was a good learning experience for me.

SCARPINO: Flexibility and the ability to listen are good qualities of a successful leader?

BRAND: Oh, I think so. I mean if things are carved in Indiana limestone when you start, you’re not going to get anyplace. I mean, why would you think you have a corner on the market of good ideas? You’ve got to listen to others and understand what the key core substantive issues are and stay focused on those. Sometimes it’s compromising. There’s nothing wrong with compromising as long as you keep the main objectives in perspective.

SCARPINO: I noted in the materials that I read about you that you became director of the cognitive science program. So you, at some point directed the program that you helped bring into existence?

BRAND: Right. I was the first director. I started it and then handed it off. In fact, I just went down there about a month ago. They celebrated their 25th anniversary and were nice enough…

SCARPINO: So it’s still going strong?

BRAND: It’s still going strong.

SCARPINO: In 1986 you left the University of Arizona for Ohio State University where you were provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1986 to 1989. What was the attraction of a provost position in a much colder climate?

BRAND: It was a much colder climate when we were enjoying our life on a little ranch there. Again, this might have been a network issue, but a couple of philosophy friends there had nominated me for the position, and I was contacted about it. At that point I was enjoying administration so much I wanted to be serious about it, and had to go buy some ties and suits and look a little more presentable and such.

SCARPINO: I’ll ask you for the record; did you still have a ponytail and a mustache?

BRAND: I certainly had a mustache, absolutely. The ponytail was cut back but the mustache was there for a long time. [laughing] But it looked like a great opportunity and my wife was willing to move, so we went to Ohio State.

SCARPINO: What differences were there between leading as a provost and leading as a dean?

BRAND: Oh, it’s all the difference in the world. I mean first of all, Ohio State is a massive university and that was truly a…

SCARPINO: It’s a multi-campus university, is that correct?

BRAND: Well, it has small two-year campuses. It’s not like Indiana University which is multi-campus. They only have two-year campuses. So it’s really all in one place—about 60,000 students in one place and medical school and is a land grant institution. So it had everything. The only program I couldn’t find that they didn’t have was mortuary science. But other than that they had everything. That was a very big job and I admired the president, a man named Ed Jennings. I thought he was a good president, charismatic, but unfortunately he ran into some problems and was finishing up, not because of his own decisions, by the time I got there. But that was a truly administrative job university-wide and I couldn’t figure out who my constituency was. It wasn’t exactly the deans because they have too much autonomy. So I really never quite got that part. I think that position, that intermediate position of being a provost, is a really tough one at a university because your constituency is not so—who was I representing? I was making decisions for others, not so much representing anyone and I wasn’t the leader of the university. That’s the president. And so I wasn’t making decisions for the university. It was a kind of intermediate job that while I enjoyed and learned a lot, I felt a little uncomfortable with, because…

SCARPINO: For the benefit of people who are going to listen to this recording in five or ten years, what generally are the duties of a provost?

BRAND: I was chief academic officer. I was in charge of everything in the university to do with academics and student life, student affairs, research, education. One of the things I went there to do and I think probably while I was attractive to those at Ohio State for this job was to reshape their undergraduate education. So I did spend three years doing that, and we put in place a whole new undergraduate curriculum as well as change the structure of majors and did a great deal of work, but I was mostly focused on education and research.

SCARPINO: To what end in terms of reshaping the undergraduate curriculum? Where did you want to end up or why were you interested in that exercise?

BRAND: Trying to figure out for that time what a college graduate from Ohio State should know. You have to do that every ten years or so and that institution, like most others, had been negligent in doing it and probably hadn’t reshaped their undergraduate education for thirty or forty years. It kind of devolved into a treaty amongst various departments of setting up what the distribution requirements were and it didn’t have much sense. The president and the board there was focused on redoing the undergraduate education and since I had some success at that at Arizona, I think, that was the main reason they brought me in and that’s what I did.

SCARPINO: In the process, in going through that process, where did you want to end up?

BRAND: I wanted to end up with a tighter distribution requirement, getting clear about what the common or core courses were, and we did all that and had a support and funded. I was also very much interested in making sure that minority students had opportunities. One of the programs I started while I was there was called the Young Scholars Program which is, I think, still going on. What we did is we admitted people to the university who were in the sixth grade. We had a ceremony not unlike a graduation ceremony in which I present this young man or young woman with a certificate that said you are admitted and their parents were standing right beside them. Now all the young person had to do—and it will be wholly paid—they had to agree to come to academic enrichment programs during the summer and they had to basically keep out of trouble.

SCARPINO: And this was really an effort to increase the minority enrollment.

BRAND: Absolutely.

SCARPINO: Who paid for it?

BRAND: Ohio State. By the time I left, it became a statewide effort and the state picked up the bill but when I was there Ohio State picked up the bill.

SCARPINO: In going through this curriculum revision and tightening and so on, was there discussion of the value or significance of a Baccalaureate Degree? What it should mean?

BRAND: Yes. There was definitely, well again, the question wasn’t so much about the degree but what should an educated person for the end of the twentieth century should know and what basic skills he or she should have, as well as some of the specialized skills that come with having a major. How do we define literacy and how do we break through some of the departmental silos in order to have a well-rounded education? Is critical thinking part of it, for example, and how do we manage it? Everyone has an opportunity to do that as learning how to write well. That part of it. So those are the kinds of questions we asked. Set up lots of committees and had, picked a whole new staff of about six associate provosts, and we worked our way through it and it was hard work. Every Monday, we’d start out our Monday mornings with our 7:00am meeting, and people said, well why are we holding it at 7:00? I said, well I want to give them time to have breakfast and you know, we would—it was a hard-working group.

SCARPINO: I’m trying to imagine a situation where you have departments and programs and schools that have a vested interest in a certain distribution that’s been negotiated over time and in comes a new provost and says we’re going to change this.

BRAND: Right.

SCARPINO: How did you bring people along?

BRAND: Well, formed a high level committee. Identified faculty leaders who had an interest and understanding. I forgot the man’s name who came from the school of education actually and played a leadership role, found a couple of associate provosts who I appointed who were either department heads or leading faculty members who could help do that. I tried to build some comfort level. Said everything’s on the table. We opened it up. We had a full year of discussion and then we began to move forward. There were fits and starts and it wasn’t the easiest thing to do for just the reasons you named, but I felt good about it when I left. We got about, when I left, about 90, 95% done and I think the rest caught up with it a year or two later.

SCARPINO: Did you learn anything about successful leadership in that process?

BRAND: I learned a lot about universities.

SCARPINO: For example…

BRAND: I think I internalized the values of the universities. I began to understand what the tensions were better than before. There are always personalities involved but there are also some common tensions and conflicts. I learned how to organize groups of people in order to get those accomplished, how to develop buy-in from those individuals. Identify those who could make changes. Learned that you didn’t need to have everyone along to get the job done and not let the vocal minority determine what direction you go in. At the same time, not necessarily antagonizing them, but not let them determine the direction. It was a lesson in how to run a university and some of it was trial and error. I think I have some intuitions for it, having grown up in the academic community, and so it seemed to work.

SCARPINO: Did you make any mistakes?

BRAND: Oh, sure. I don’t remember them though. [laughter]

SCARPINO: That’s a good answer. You talked about learning about the values and tensions within a university. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?

BRAND: There are tensions that, faculty members—I’ve always found this fascinating—are extraordinarily creative in their fields. I mean they really break new ground in almost everything they do. Being on the cutting edge is second nature to them except when it comes to changes in their own personal privileges or in their own academic disciplines in terms of the rules, regulations of the university. You know, if they’ve reached—we’re going to have the following three courses as part of our core of the distribution. It’s like that’s written in stone. It’s very hard to move. Or, we’re going to re-look at the health benefits. How can we do that? So, people who are willing in their own areas to be provocative and creative, when it comes to anything that directly affects their lives—teaching roles, their privileges and benefits—they don’t like change. So how you deal with that and how you work through it and the steps you have to take. Identify the right people to help explain that is, it’s different from each institution to institution of course, but that’s a common thread that I found in all the universities that I’ve been at.

SCARPINO: Do you want to follow up, John Beeler?

Beeler: No, I’ll wait. Thank you.

SCARPINO: In 1989 you made another move to the presidency of the University of Oregon.

BRAND: Right.

SCARPINO: You were president of the University of Oregon from 1989 to 1994. What attracted you to that position?

BRAND: Well, about that time I began to realize the discomfort I was feeling in the provost position, namely that it was a massive job. I was learning a lot and enjoying myself but it wasn’t my university. I mean I hadn’t gotten to the point where I felt that I was the university as I was the philosophy department or the dean of social and behavioral sciences. It wasn’t mine.

SCARPINO: You hadn’t really identified the constituency.

BRAND: I hadn’t identified the constituency and I don’t think there was one. That’s why I was looking hard for it but I couldn’t find it, and at that point I really wanted a bigger challenge. Not that I didn’t have enough to do, it was a hard job, but I wanted a different kind of challenge and provosts are presidents in waiting, and I barely unpacked my bag before I was attacked by lots of head hunters. I thought I would be there a long time, but I began to think seriously only after two and a half years or two years there, maybe I should try a presidency. I didn’t know when that current president would leave and moreover, as I mentioned before, I found that changing academic jobs is often made easier by changing locations. Life’s an adventure and so we wanted to go someplace else. The University of Oregon opened up and I was on the interview circuit at the time and when they offered me that job I took it. I remember I called up a friend of mine who was at that time the provost at the University of Illinois. He later became the chancellor at Berkeley. But he was the University of Illinois Urbana provost and he had been the dean of arts and sciences at Oregon, and he told me, “You know they have some difficult resource questions there, and it’s going to be a problem.” So I listened carefully, and I said, “Well, you know, that could be an issue.” I had no idea what he was talking about. [laughing] I mean I’d been at Arizona and Ohio State and they didn’t have all the money they wanted, obviously. But I had no idea what resource problems were until I got to Oregon.

SCARPINO: As provost, were you involved in the budget development process or working with the state legislature?

BRAND: No, I didn’t. It was all internal. So, I didn’t have any external duties and the president did that, as he should have. We were assigned a budget for all the academic affairs and programs on campus and there were many of them. Then, from that point I had a very long budget process by which I distributed not only continuing money but new monies to the various programs. That took months to do and hearings. So I was involved in that end of the budget process but I did not seek funds from outside the campus.

SCARPINO: So, did you do any fundraising?

BRAND: No. Didn’t do any of that. Oh, I should say very minor, but nothing of any consequence.

SCARPINO: What do you think the hiring committee at Oregon found attractive about your candidacy?

BRAND: You know I never thought of that. Well, I came from a good university. I was only interested in AAU [Association of American Universities] universities, you know, the 65 leading public and private institutions. So I had my mind set on that. I was set on public universities and I think the social conscience was always—I wanted to be at the place where what universities did would take people, like myself, who came from relatively modest financial means and didn’t go to prep schools, but gave them an opportunity. You know, I always thought public universities—one of two opportunities in our country to rise in social status and accomplishment. The other is marriage.

SCARPINO: That would do it. [laughter]

BRAND: But, so I always had that—I always saw universities as playing a critical social role. I wanted to stay in public universities and I wanted to stay in universities that were of what I considered high quality and I always took, and still do, the mark of the highest quality university is a membership in the AAU. So, Ohio State is well situated in that group and Oregon is in the group too, though towards the bottom, and I think they may have seen my coming from a somewhat better funded, more established university as a plus for them.

SCARPINO: Shortly after you were hired, I, in doing my research I noted you were quoted as saying, “University of Oregon’s greatest challenge is to form a vision of itself and where it wants to go and then move forward.” How did you intend to accomplish that task—forming a vision of itself and then moving forward?

BRAND: Well, as I also mentioned I’m a proponent of strategic planning. Actually some of my philosophical research is actually in plans. So I started out there as I started out in every job I’ve had, let’s do a plan, which isn’t very hard. You figure out where you are, where you want to go, and what’s going to get you from here to there. I mean it’s not much more complicated than that. I did the same thing for the NCAA a couple of years ago. And so we started to do that at the University of Oregon, and they were more resistant to it than I had been accustomed, and I began to understand the very significant financial constraints that they were under. And then towards about, we hadn’t quite finished the plan, but toward the end of it as we were making progress, the state passed what was called Measure 5.

SCARPINO: In 1990, I think it happened.

BRAND: Right. ‘90 or ‘91. I think maybe ‘90. Measure 5 is the correlate to Prop 13 in California which essentially says that we’re going to eliminate property taxes which are usually used to support K through 12 and we’re going to backfill that through our state expenditures. Now Oregon has no sales tax and they have a regressive income tax so it hits its high mark very early on. So, no sales tax, regressive income tax, there isn’t very much room then for new resources coming in. You’ve got a three-legged stool standing on two legs. And so they began to triage the state services and decided, quite purposefully, that higher education was not a priority. So you had a poorly funded university that was hit by a real decrease in funding in order to backfill from the property taxes, which were pretty much put on hold, property taxes to support the schools.

SCARPINO: K through 12.

BRAND: K through 12. And they said look, we’re a very attractive part of the country, the northwest is, and it’s a very beautiful part of the country. We’ll just import our intellectual talent. We won’t home grow it. And anyone who wants to go to college, a good college, will just have to go out of state. That was their decision.

SCARPINO: Made by the state legislature.

BRAND: And the population.

SCARPINO: I probably want to say for the record here because I want to ask you several questions about this Measure 5. Was it an initiative?

BRAND: Yes. It was a ballot initiative.

SCARPINO: So some number of signatures gathered on a petition, certified by the secretary of the state, placed on the ballot for people to vote.

BRAND: That’s correct.

SCARPINO: So this was then a decision of the voters as opposed to a decision of the state legislators.

BRAND: That’s exactly right.

SCARPINO: To what do you attribute that climate of opinion?

BRAND: There’s a Libertarian streak in Oregon in which, should be every person, family, on his own bottom and paying taxes or supporting public services is not in the ethos of that state. To some, selfishness, if you like. It came from both those on the political right wing of the spectrum, which is in the western part of the state, the ranchers, but it also came from the suburbs of Portland.

As a university president, then, I was not permitted to speak about any measure on the ballot. So I went around the state on a speaking tour saying I’m not allowed to speak about Measure 5, but if I were, [laughter] this is what I’d say. And so I, you know, I was playing a pretty cat and mouse game. I warned people, I told the students on campus, you know, if this passes your tuition is going to double. I got that wrong, it tripled. It was a draconian, actually—we lost 75% of state funding in three years. I had to fire over a thousand people. It was traumatic and it was a learning experience and not a very pleasant one, I must say.

I set up a committee to look at where we were going to take the cuts because we had a short period of time to do that. We got our most distinguished and thoughtful faculty involved and with any group like that, they came back with a small menu. They were not willing to take the responsibility for the final cuts and that was my job as president. I always think that presidents and leaders should take responsibility for their actions and should stand up for them. The most traumatic time I had was that all this information came to me, and I had to decide where we were going to cut.

Oregon does not have a university senate, a faculty senate. It does everything by town hall meetings and so we got the biggest room we could possibly find and every faculty member was there and every staff member and a lot of students, bursting at the seams, and I was there to announce where the cuts were going to be made. I remember standing up and doing that and I said we’re going to close the college of physical education and human resources. I remember the dean standing up, and everyone in the room knew that he had a brain tumor, and he was short-lived from there on, and he stood up and gave an impassioned plea in defense of his college and said, you know, today it’s my college, tomorrow it’s yours and it was very moving. And I had to say, we’re closing your college. It was very hard.

SCARPINO: How did you arrive at the decisions of what to keep and what not to keep?

BRAND: I had to decide what was important to the university. I mean, on the menu list was, for example, closing the law school. I thought it was more important for Oregon to have a law school than it was to have this particular college. I did not fire any tenured faculty and anyone who was a tenured faculty member from that college, we found them a job elsewhere on campus. Sometimes in student affairs, elsewhere—so no one was fired. We did not close any academic programs but we just stopped taking in anyone. All those who were not tenured were let go at the end of their contracts. That was a traumatically difficult time. I didn’t sleep much and I found it very upsetting. I did stand up and take responsibility for it. That was the hardest thing by far I’ve ever done in academics and any decision I’ve made at any place.

SCARPINO: Did you see that coming when you took the job at Oregon?

BRAND: No, I did not. I had on my door in my office a poster of a disheveled cowboy who had a four-day growth and torn bandana and hat and it said, underneath, the caption was “Some things they didn’t tell me when I signed on to this outfit.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that poster.

SCARPINO: I have and I actually was going to ask you about that. [laughter]

BRAND: But it, you know, I was very unhappy and saddened by it but I thought it was the right thing to do. Our sister institution, Oregon State, did it very differently. They cut everyone 10% or 20% or whatever it was and just, I thought, degraded the entire quality of the institution. I made selective cuts.

SCARPINO: So, which selective cuts did you make?

BRAND: I closed that whole college. I closed all the Ph.D. programs in education except one program and cut back occasionally on, cut back on some of the arts and sciences but as much as possible, I held everyone else harmless. Cut back dramatically in administration and support services, but tried to sustain the academic programs because they weren’t very well funded to begin with.

SCARPINO: So the programs you cut then were Ph.D.s in education and…?

BRAND: In education and that entire college. Ph.D.s and undergraduate programs.

SCARPINO: What kind of criteria did you use to pick those and not others?

BRAND: They were on the list that the faculty recommended, but also some personal judgment about quality of programs as well as what was central to the core of the university and how we’d go forward from that. And those who had their programs cut weren’t very happy about it. I remember at the graduation when I was shaking hands a year or two later with those who were receiving Ph.D.s, the ones in education whose programs were cut didn’t want to shake my hand. I found that hurtful. I understood it but I found it hurtful. I think I made the right decisions though, even though those were very difficult decisions. To jump to the end of the story, I’ll fill in some of the blanks, but by the time I left, not only did we replace those thousand faculty and the three thousand more students but the budget was in much better shape and the university was beginning to prosper.

SCARPINO: What did you do to bring the budget, to put it in better shape if you lost all that state funding?

BRAND: I spent a lot of time thinking about that and essentially what we did is we made the university semi-private. We looked for other revenue sources. For example, we had about eight or ten percent out of state students, many of them from Asia when I started there. Out of state students pay much higher tuition and so we went from about eight or ten percent to forty percent out of state students and we got to keep all that additional revenue.

SCARPINO: How did you persuade the out of state students to come to Oregon?

BRAND: It was—that was easy. We had students wearing T-shirts that said University of California, Eugene, Oregon. I would be on TV saying it’s clean, green, and you could take a twenty minute shower. There was a drought in southern California at the time.

SCARPINO: I remember that. [laughter]

BRAND: And so we worked very hard at it. We changed our whole approach to recruiting. We opened up an office in L.A. and an office in San Francisco. I actually went down to speak to the chancellor there in the University of California system and said could we become a campus of the University of California? I was serious about it because, and the state at the same time was happy to do it. Some states say, well we don’t want all these out of state students. The state of Oregon said go to it. Do whatever you want. I totally reshaped the fundraising efforts. They were very poor there. We started the first major campaign and raised a lot of private money.

SCARPINO: So you got involved in philanthropy.

BRAND: Oh, yes. Big time.

SCARPINO: And how did you organize the campaign?

BRAND: Well, what I did was I went to the board. I remember we had a Come to Jesus meeting in Bend, Oregon and I said…

SCARPINO: This is with the board of?

BRAND: Foundation Board. Give, get, or get off. And we lost about a third of the board which was fine, invited new people on and got everyone very excited and set up a—hired new development offices, new vice president for development and spent a lot of time doing it myself. Very successful campaign.

SCARPINO: So this would have been the first time where you were combining your activities in higher education administration with philanthropy.


SCARPINO: And you did it out of necessity, I assume.

BRAND: Well, I had been doing it before—university presidents have to do it but, when that Measure 5 hit we turned to that big time and the alumni, friends of the university, really came through. Big time. And we sought out research grants. I mean we just, it’s a system and so I didn’t have my own board. I had a state system and constant fighting with the central offices of the university to keep all the revenue we were raising because we had cut back and solved our problem, as painful as it was, and then we were moving forward and so we developed new revenue streams. Meanwhile, our sister institutions, particularly Oregon State, had put off the cutbacks, had cut across the board and they were receiving some great pain. So there was a constant movement by those in the systems office to see if they could take some of the resources we were generating and give it to other campuses.

SCARPINO: So part of your role as a leader was to raise money and part of it was to hang onto it.

BRAND: And hanging onto it was, after we, you know, were getting going and the engine was working. It was very frustrating that the system was making it more difficult for us even though the times were very hard. And we were doing it ourselves, autonomously, self-starting, and the state legislators and the public were happy with us, but from the— that office of the board, they were trying to move money around and I wasn’t real happy about that.

SCARPINO: Were you able to solve that problem?

BRAND: Mostly. Not a hundred percent. That was one of the reasons why I began to look after—I didn’t want to leave the University of Oregon until they were on very strong footing. I mean I felt, now I identified with the university and I felt really responsible for them. So I wanted to make sure they were successful before I’d even think of moving and these plans that were put in action, some of which I’m talking about now, were successful. So after about four or five years the university was starting to go great guns and the momentum was building, I said I don’t need to fight with that central office anymore. I want to go to a place, a fine public university that has its own board that I can work with so I don’t have to continue to see money come in one door and go out the others. That was very frustrating to me.

SCARPINO: How would you assess the strength of the University of Oregon today? Have you kept up with what they’re doing?

BRAND: I have and I still have very good friends there and in fact, the president there, Dave Frohnmayer, was someone who was a state’s attorney general and ran for governor and lost, so I hired him as dean of the law school and before I left worked with him to become president and he’s still president there. So I certainly keep up with them and they’re doing very well. They’re in another major campaign. The out of state approach has worked. They managed after a lot of political pressure to finally stop the leakage out the back or mostly at least and I think they’re doing very well—much, much better. They’re far more engaged in athletics than when I was there, but that’s not so bad.

SCARPINO: Did you learn anything about how a leader has to function in times of adversity?

BRAND: Yeah, I did. I think that was trial under fire and there was no one there to teach me. It was just learning how to do it. I think I saw the direction we wanted to go overall and I think my willingness to stand up and take the heat and responsibility was important. It wouldn’t have happened—no one else was going to take the responsibility. I thought the way Oregon State did it was dead wrong, cutting across the board. So you really had to target it and of course that made some people unhappy and those who weren’t cut, in empathy for those who were, didn’t exactly come to my rescue or say anything. So, survivor’s guilt. They just kind of hunkered down. But the university started to do well and I think it’s been on a, with bumps and starts, on a reasonable course since. Not a wealthy university now but I think they’re in good shape.

SCARPINO: Do you think the way in which a leader deals with adversity is a measure, in the end, of that leader’s success?

BRAND: Oh, of course. It’s easy when everything’s working well. The real challenge is when things go to hell in a handbag and when you’ve got to figure out what to do and stand up and take the responsibility. I spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about where we want to go, where are our opportunities and that’s when I hit upon the out of state approach.

SCARPINO: I’d like to ask you a few more of our standard leadership questions and then we’ll come back and talk to you a second time.

BRAND: Okay.

SCARPINO: How would you characterize your idea or concept of leadership?

BRAND: Going back to the idea that you really identify both in terms of value and successes and failures with the institution. My concept of leadership is—is the group or the organization you’re leading successful enough? That’s the only way to measure it.

SCARPINO: How would you describe your leadership style?

BRAND: I started off, as you heard earlier, very consultative, consensus-building. I think over the years I have found that sometimes you have to be a bit more directive and I think it has something to do with where you are in the organization. So when you’re a department head or even a dean you could be much more consensus-building. When you start to be a leader of the entire organization and their vested interests, you try and build consensus, but if you just build consensus I don’t think you get too much done. So I suspect most people would characterize me as highly directive. And I am more directive now than I was in the past. I still try and build consensus and work hard at that. So I think it’s awfully dependent upon where you fit in. These absolute rules you should do this rather than that doesn’t work. It’s dependent upon the organization, the circumstances, and where you are in that institution. I think a leader also has to be hard-working. You know, I think a university presidency is 26 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. I mean you’ve just got to continually do it, and that goes for the NCAA too. So you can’t be a leader if you don’t roll up your sleeves and work hard at it and get it done, and depending upon what the situation is and where you are in the organization, being more or less directive is a matter —it’s impossible from the president’s office to create total consensus in a university. But you can sitting and having pizzas with your colleagues around the philosophy table. It’s just not the same.

SCARPINO: As I read about your career and noted what you and I have talked about that you changed academic positions several times.


SCARPINO: Do you think that sometimes a measure of a leader is knowing when it’s time to walk away?

BRAND: Oh, sure. I think so too. I mean I think there’s a certain point which you can do the best you can. I also think there’s a time not to walk away. Of course I was tempted to walk away when Oregon was hit with Measure 5. I mean I could have gone to another university. I could have happily gone to another philosophy department and written another book, but you don’t walk away when the times get tough. That’s when you nail your shoes to the floor and start to work harder. So I think not walking away is even more important about knowing when to walk away.

SCARPINO: You spent a fair amount of time talking to us about your concept and style of leadership. What has worked well for you in terms of your concept and style of leadership?

BRAND: Well, I think consensus building, to the extent I can do that. Building a team has been very important to me. I think that’s probably one of the more successful things that I do. As we talked about earlier, getting smart, accomplished people around you and turn them loose. Making sure that we’re all agreed upon where we want to go, but how we get there might be a little different. So I’ve always thought that my success depended a lot on the ability to create a team, lead the team, influence their thought, create loyalty for me, as well as my loyalty to them. Not blind loyalty. I mean sometimes you have to fire people. But I think teambuilding is, particularly for these large organizations, teambuilding is at the top, as I found very important.

SCARPINO: When you move from one position to another, particularly at the higher level as provost and university president and president, the head of the NCAA, do you bring your own team with you? Do you build your own team?

BRAND: I’ve done a little bit of that and it’s always been unsuccessful. And so I don’t do very much of that. Over time I’ve brought maybe one or two people and it doesn’t work out because you’re putting someone in a new context. They may have been successful in that old context and bringing them to the new context isn’t necessarily a good thing to do. You know, I’m not sure you’re going to ask this question but a companion question is some people come into these positions and they put everyone on notice and they’re going to create their own new team from scratch and I find that’s…

SCARPINO: That’s what I was trying to ask you without asking if you fired everybody, so…

BRAND: I don’t. I really don’t. I think over the first six months, you have to evaluate the team and see who’s appropriate to be there, and who’s not, and I’ve always found that maybe ten percent at most of the people there need to move on, and we help them move on, and you don’t fire them the first two weeks. But what I try and do is I inherit the team that’s there and if they’re professionals they’ll change their loyalty and buy in. The people I’ve had to let go in those situations weren’t because they didn’t buy in so much as they weren’t at the level of competency I wanted.

SCARPINO: Do institutions like universities or the NCAA have their own corporate or institutional cultures that a leader has to be cognizant of and work with?

BRAND: Absolutely. That’s a key point. I mean one might say well, public AAU universities, they’re relatively similar. You should be able to move from one to the other. I think that’s a misunderstanding. I’ve always found that it takes about a year to get the subtleties of the culture. One cycle and you’ve got to pay attention to that. So you have to be very careful, I believe, when you move from one of—even though they’re quite similar institutions, when you move from one to another, that you don’t try and import too much from the old one into the new one. You really have to learn what’s important, how—what’s the self image of this institution and the people who work here and how do you take advantage of that and how do you reinforce the good parts of that? And of course you also have the opportunity to insert some of your own ideas, but where I’ve had problems and things didn’t work out the way I wanted, was that I was importing ideas from elsewhere into the new organization without stopping to see does it really fit here. I liked it a lot so I’m bringing it over. That’s not a good idea.

SCARPINO: That actually gets to the next question I wanted to ask you in terms of your concept and style of leadership, and that is—what has not worked so well for you?

BRAND: Well, I think that’s one of the things that hasn’t worked well. For example, there were some things that really worked well at Oregon that I wanted to take advantage of in terms of working with the public and student affairs. I brought it over to IU Bloomington and they resisted and as a result it wasn’t—this was a guaranteed four-year education. The idea was that if you don’t graduate in four years we’ll pay your tuition. Now, your part of the contract was that you have to listen to our advisors and you have to take the courses that you want to take. So the only reason that you wouldn’t graduate then is if we did something wrong. That is to say we didn’t have the right courses for you when you needed them or there was a conflict in your schedule and then we’ll pay the tuition and we’ll guarantee that up front. You know, the state legislators in Indiana really liked that because they thought it showed accountability. The faculty at Bloomington hated it. I told them you’re never going to have to pay this off. You’ll never have to have one. So it had the kind of PR effect it wanted. It helped the enrollment but then about five years later, ten years later, whatever it was, they closed it down. I said, well how many guarantees did you pay off in all those years? None.


BRAND: But nonetheless, the faculty didn’t like it. We tried to do something like that at Oregon. It was very well received. I tried to bring it over to Bloomington. I didn’t listen carefully enough to say that it wasn’t right for this faculty even though it was a good idea and it worked, they didn’t, for whatever reason, like it, so that was a learning experience. You can’t necessarily, even good ideas, bring over.

SCARPINO: A good leader should be able to listen?

BRAND: Absolutely should listen and not be stubborn.

SCARPINO: Do you see a distinction between leadership and management?

BRAND: Oh, sure. In university presidencies I think, you know, that’s the area I know best, but you know, there are operational, transactional presidents as they call them, people who are really good managers and keep them going and keep the roof on and keep the fires down. And then there are transformational leaders who want to create change and those are the leaders as opposed to managers. And I always saw myself as a transformational leader and I’m a change agent. I think that’s why IU hired me from Oregon. They saw me as a change agent. There are some costs to being a change agent as we talked about before. Not everyone particularly in universities likes to see change. So there’s some personal risk involved in doing that, but I think those are—transactional leaders aren’t doing the university any good. I mean, I think they’re people who just want to get comfortable in their positions rather than actually forward the well-being of the institution.

SCARPINO: We’ve talked about your style of leadership. Can you think of an event or an incident that best demonstrates your leadership style?

BRAND: You know, I think when I stood up in front of that group from Measure 5 and I said, “I listened to all of you, here’s what you said, you gave me a menu but you didn’t tell me where you wanted to go. My first principle is what is going to be good for the long run of the university even if it’s painful right now. Here’s what we’re going to do.” And we did it and it worked, but it was very painful.

SCARPINO: Some of the literature on leadership argues that leadership style, leadership success, is often forged in a crisis. Was there an event or a crisis that helped forge your own view of leadership?

BRAND: Well, I think that Measure 5 was that one incident I was talking about but it was actually a three- or four-year period and certainly I learned a lot about leadership, learned a lot about myself, learned where my backbone was and what I thought was important. And that was forged in crisis, yes.

SCARPINO: What do you think you learned about yourself in that crisis?

BRAND: I was stronger than I thought. You know, I’m sure I thought through it the best I possibly could. I thought I knew the right direction and what we had to do. I did not take the path of least resistance. I took the path that would be best for the university. Frankly, the path that was most difficult for me, personally. And I stood up and was counted and I found that I could do this.

SCARPINO: Do you think leaders are born or made?

BRAND: Oh, I don’t know. Nurture. Nature. It’s hard to say. It probably takes both. I’m not sure how much of that is early childhood training. I doubt that very much of it is in your DNA. It’s probably learned activities and values that happen very early and you can’t even identify the learning that takes place. But it depends on the circumstances. I mean some have more opportunities to learn than others. Some circumstances present themselves in a way that you can learn from. But then you have to take advantage of the opportunity. I mean you could ignore most of this, you know. I didn’t have to give up my comfort in my easy chair writing philosophy, you know. You have to take some risks.

SCARPINO: We’ll come at this from a slightly different direction. I mean, we’re coming into the season when the NCAA is going to have its tournament and eventually decide the best basketball team. Not everybody can play basketball at that level. I mean, there are lots of people who can play basketball but there are very few people who can perform at the NCAA Final Four level.

BRAND: Right.

SCARPINO: Is leadership in any way analogous to athletic talent? I mean are there some people who have an ability that may be cultivated and other people who do not? Or is it, can anybody become a leader with the right circumstances and so on?

BRAND: Oh, there are probably some necessary conditions. I think it’s very clear in athletics, if you’re not born 6’9” and very quick of foot, I mean you don’t have much of a chance in basketball. So I think genetics play an important role in athletics. For leadership, I think there’s some genetic issues. I think being smart, as I’ve said, is a key role and being smart means the same as being lucky. You don’t get to choose what your IQ is. I mean it’s hard to pick your parents. So you don’t know what your—so you’ve got to have certain basic tools, but I think those basic tools, as compared with athletics, play a much lesser role. I think formation of values, and you do have a responsibility in terms of formation of your values. You can change them. You can focus in on them. They are what you make them to be. So I think there’s some genetic input. Some natural or native skills and capacities you need. But after that it’s far more shaped by who you are and what you’re willing to risk and sacrifice and what you consider is important. So I’m not trying to measure this but I think long term, meaning over a lifetime, development of values and perspectives plays a key role.

SCARPINO: One final question.


SCARPINO: Some of the literature about leadership argues that a person really cannot be a leader unless what they do is positive, where they have positive agenda. So the question I want to ask you is, can there be a leader who pursues goals or outcomes of questionable utility or morality?

BRAND: I think you can be a demagogue. I think you can get people to do things but I think the word leader is an honorific term. I think the term carries with it the connotation that there are positive values you’re working towards. Some of those positive values will be universal in nature, applying to any organization, and some of them will be more specific in terms of the kind of organization you are. So the kinds of goals, for example, that a university has set may not be appropriate to a steel company or some such. But there are other kinds of values, you know, treating people with respect, making sure that the success of the organization doesn’t create harm inadvertently or worse, on purpose. So there are some of those values that I think cut across but there are also specific ones. I think you can get people to do things, manipulate people, play on their worst fears and anxieties and force them into directions that they think they want to go even though it might not be in their benefit in the long run but I don’t call that a leader. A leader really is someone who has some positive, constructive benefits particularly for that organization, but more broadly speaking as well.

SCARPINO: So you would not, for example, say that Adolph Hitler or Idi Amin are leaders?

BRAND: I’d say they were just the 180 degrees off. Whatever the converse of being a leader is, that’s what they were. Evil people is the way I would…

SCARPINO: OK. I tried to pick deliberately evil people. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to sit with us and we’ll look forward to talking to you again.

BRAND: Very good. Thank you.