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a great job: 220 faculty, you could be hands-on. When you get to be provost of
a n i n s t it ut ion w it h 1,50 0 -plu s f a c u lt y, it’s ver y h a rd to h ave t h at k i nd of f a m i l i a r it y
with what everybody’s doing. You have to deal with humanities, law, and
education, and with doctors who are seeing patients. It’s a mind-stretching
exercise. But Condi gave this speech where she talked about the importance of
higher education, and how it transformed her family and their life. And it just
struck me as a calling. This was a really important role, and great universities
need great leadership.
S+B: You talked about taking the post of provost as your Rubicon. What exactly
were you leaving behind?
HENNESSY: Two things. One is there was some feeling that it was easier to go
back to being a professor, an academic in the normal sense, from the dean’s job
than from the provost’s job. Also, a dean is still allowed a little time for continuing
to pursue research or teaching. The provost’s job is full-time. So I was leaving
behind my academic connections and my roots, and the thing I loved, which was
being a teacher and being a researcher.
S+B: Universities are very large enterprises; Stanford has an annual budget of
about $5 billion. And although people study leadership on campus, it seems like
there is almost no management training for university leaders. Did anybody ever
have a conversation with you about how to be a leader in an educational setting?
HENNESSY: No. In fact, a lot of what I learned about management was in the
Daniel Gross
is executive editor of

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