Clark’s pre-Inauguration ceremony events have enlightened and entertained hundreds of Clark alumni, students, faculty and staff who have participated or attended such events as the Passport Dinner, Blue Man Group performance and formal Inaugural Dinner. An Inaugural Symposium explores some of the most pressing challenges facing society today. It features a series of panel discussions by noted Clark scholars and alumni who have shared their passions, knowledge and experiences.
Below are recaps of the Sept. 23 panels. Wednesday’s panel, “Sustainability in the 21st Century,” was covered in a previous post. The fourth and final Symposium panel, “The Great recession and Its Impact on Families,” will appear after the inauguration, which takes place this afternoon (Sept. 24) at 1:30.
* Be sure to check out links to postings, pictures, videos and tweets covering the Inauguration Week happenings online — including last night’s Inaugural Dinner with President Angel’s special guest Rajendra K. Pachauri, director of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. *
Inaugural Symposium Panel 2: “Creativity and Leadership in the New Century”
Creativity and leadership, it seems, go hand-in-hand. At least, that was the consensus of the panelists at yesterday’s Inaugural Symposium, “Creativity and Leadership in the New Century.” Leaders must be creative, and Clark must be a place that encourages that creativity to grow.
Stephanie Bailey ’72, former Chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Public Health Practice, said creativity is “like bringing order to a sea of chaos … creating something new, a solution — some kind of forward-moving thing.” And a leader will navigate that chaotic sea via his or her boat of creative thinking.
Visual and Performing Arts Professor Matthew Malsky, in his introduction to the event, noted that creativity is the number one leadership competency for the future. Studies have shown that success is greater for those whose “Creativity Quotient” is stronger than that traditional measurement of ability, the Intelligence Quotient. “These are the people who challenge convention and change the world,” he said.
The inauguration of Clark’s ninth president, Malsky said, is “the ideal time to pause and consider: Where do ideas come from, and how are they implemented?”
Along that line, Malsky asked the panelists three questions: How do you define creativity? How is leadership needed to promote and encourage creativity? What makes for great leadership?
“Am I creative? Am I a leader?” asked panelist Solange Bandiaky, Ph.D. ’08. “If you’re creative, you don’t say it — you just do it.”
Bandiaky is the coordinator of the Africa program of the Rights and Resources initiative. She works at the local level to organize and empower women, to raise their issues to the policy level.
Bandiaky, a native of Senegal who is one of eight children, said her parents were civil servants and saw education as a path to success, working hard to send their children to private school. She said that she believes every person you meet, and every experience you have, affects your creativity. “Creativity and leadership are shaped by social, political and economic factors. You have to reinvent yourself all the time.”
Coming to Clark made Bandiaky realize that American college students had much to take for granted, she said. “At some point you stop creating, because everything is there.”
Steve Roberts ’74, founder and president of The Roberts Companies, said he learned at Clark that an important part of success is being a dreamer and a risk-taker — something that he “hopes this university still teaches.”
Universities like Clark, Roberts explained, “should provide an atmosphere … that encourages risk-takers.”
Leaders, Roberts said, “understand that everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has a genius in them… [but] I.Q. does not guarantee success.” Some of the CEOs of today’s major corporations “weren’t the sharpest tools in the toolbox, but they’re good people – creative people.”
To Bailey, leadership is not about the position; it’s about the qualities possessed by the leader. A good leader, she explained, must be an attentive, active listener. Besides creativity, leadership requires vision, integrity and trust. “You can’t lead if there are no followers.”
Bandiaky said she looks at leadership from a social justice perspective. A leader must be aware of the challenges facing the community and be at the service of those who are most in need. “Don’t be afraid to take a social or political position for people to be aware that something is wrong and needs to be changed,” she said.
Community creativity should be the start, Bandiaky said, because who knows better how to take care of their communities than the people who live there?
President David P. Angel, at the conclusion of the panel, echoed the thoughts of the panelists: “How will we evolve our academic programs, the life of the university, the culture of Clark… and infuse students with the creativity and schools to be leaders?”
Part of the aim of the inaugural symposium was “to really listen and really learn” to Clark’s alumni. And, Angel said, “I am listening very carefully.”
Inaugural Symposium Panel 3: Challenges and Opportunities in Today’s Global Economy
As the U.S. economy continues its slow, painful recovery, where does one look to find models of growth and prosperity?
China, for one; Germany, Brazil and others also are thriving in rough economic times. The recession continues to hit hard, and the U.S. and other nations may be approaching a day of reckoning if jobs aren’t restored and the gap between the haves and have-nots widens even further.
These, and other challenges and opportunities in today’s global economy were addressed at a Sept. 23 Inaugural Symposium in Razzo Hall. Moderated by Clark University Economics Professor Chang Hong, the panel included Patricia Dandonoli ’75, Chief Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Officer for Natural Systems Utilities; Mark Fishman ’82, Head of Fixed Income for Diamondback Capital and a Clark Trustee, and Thomas Scharfenberger, M.B.A. ’88, Director, Network Planning Hub Munich, Lufthansa Airlines.
Dandonoli said economic growth without regard to human development — a long healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living — is a serious concern. “Equitable societies have better growth in the long run.”
Dandonoli referred to the Happiness Index, which factors in non-economic effects on one’s overall happiness. “We need to take into account the experiences of everyday people, quality of life, and consumption as well as production,” she said.
Scharfenberger spoke of the steps Lufthansa has taken to be more eco-friendly, including experimenting with bio-fueled aircraft. “With all the challenges of the global economy, we need to think about what industries to foster and support,” he said.
Although reported as hovering between 9 and 10 percent, by factoring in various Department of Labor statistics, the rate of unemployment and underemployment in the United States is 18.5 percent, not far from the 23.5 percent experienced during the Great Depression, Fishman said.
“[The economy] is still in a period of healing and reconstruction,” Fishman said.
All agreed that infrastructure improvements are necessary to support economic growth. Scharfenberger, who lives in Germany, noted he hasn’t lived in the U.S. in 22 years and in that time the infrastructure he has observed is unchanged or worse. He called the nation’s airport infrastructure “a disaster,” adding, “You should invest in your own country.”
The developing world is more vulnerable to food crises and natural disasters, making infrastructure improvements in those countries essential for sustainability, Dandonoli said, noting that providing clean water is an enormous global challenge. However, the trend toward privatizing infrastructure “is not always a great idea,” she added. Alternatives such as “green infrastructure” that don’t tax natural resources need to be pursued, she said, and while they have environmental benefits they can also be profitable for investors.
The U.S. has allowed itself to acquire a “disgusting amount of debt,” Fishman said. He noted that countries like Brazil and Venezuela are making significant improvements to road systems and other necessities. China is “a machine” that is laying out a 50-year economic plan, while other developed nations will be experiencing flattened growth for the next five years or so because of the lack of a “growth driver” to propel their economies.
“Are we on a collision course between sustainability and economic growth?” asked an audience member.
Dandonoli was emphatic.
“Yes, we are on a collision course. We haven’t taken into account the value of natural resources.” She said nations must look at production and consumption models that minimize the degradation of the environment and create social as well as economic value. “We need to recalibrate.”
Looking at global central banks lowering interest rates to practically zero “tells you we’re on a collision course,” Fishman said.