Presidents - Internal and external role
A provost’s role is much more internal. It deals with everything academic. The president’s role is both internal and external. Internal in the sense that at the end of the day, the president’s responsibility is for the entire university. And it is only that you have the key person of a provost who helps you with many of the internal academic things, but ultimately the responsibility is still yours. Added on to that would be other internal roles for the corporate running of the university. Issues to do with finances, issues to do with the long-term financial sustainability of the university, issues to do with risk management, safety, security, HR for the non-academic side of the house. That entire spectrum is also the president’s responsibility.
But over and above that, is an external function, and the external function is a function external to the university within the country but also beyond the country. And the key offices that I would have a great deal to do with, one would obviously be corporate communications and marketing, where it is about how we project ourselves, who are we as a university, how do we manifest a university that is vibrant, relevant and making a difference to society. Part of it is about projecting all the good work that the university does. And it is entirely possible that we do a lot of good work, but if we don’t have that machinery and the strategy to project ourselves well, a lot of the good work can go unnoticed. My role as president is to represent and re-present the university.
There is a second office that I would have a lot to do with and that is the international office. And that is about projecting the university internationally. It is about developing the opportunities internationally for collaborations. It is about making sure that the good things that we do are known much more internationally because that has a virtuous cycle in terms of bringing opportunities to the university.
Then, of course, there is the external world where I would have a primary responsibility, although I would not be the only one responsible for this, and that is advancement. That is about bringing resources to the university to do all the wonderful things that we want to do as a university. Imagination is free. Ambition can be free, but making it happen is not free. So we really do need to work at building a resource base that is robust, not just for the here and now, but for the long term. If I am to see myself as a steward, then my responsibility is not to steward the institution just now but for the longer term. And to the extent that I am able to work with all colleagues on campus because all colleagues have a responsibility or a role—maybe not a direct responsibility, but a role in helping with bringing in gifts to the university because people believe in us and what we want to do. It is my responsibility to shepherd everyone to do this as well as we can.