After two years of service as SUNY chancellor, John Ryan will resign from his position in May to assume the role of President and CEO of the Center of Creative Leadership, which is headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Center of Creative Leadership (CCL) is a nonprofit company that offers services to clients around the world that concentrate on leadership education and research.
Geneseo President Christopher Dahl said the resignation, which was announced on March 7, "is a great loss to the SUNY system." He continued, "Chancellor Ryan is really a great chancellor. Not only was he effective in terms of administrative policies, but he really loves campuses and students." He concluded by adding, "The resignation of Chancellor Ryan is not only a loss to the SUNY system as a whole, but to SUNY Geneseo personally. Chancellor Ryan understands why we're different and how we're trying to get better. You don't find that everyday in an administrator."
Ryan, who has been a member of the CCL's Board of Governors since 2002, has been "heavily recruited" for this position for a number of years, according to Dahl. Ryan, who spends roughly 15 days out of every month away from his family, said he "looks forward to the challenge privilege of serving as its sixth president." He continued, "My daughters yelled at me for being away for so long. Plus, we need to enjoy the warm weather."
On Thursday, March 22, Ryan toured Geneseo and imparted to its students and faculty what being a leader truly means.
After having breakfast with Dahl, Ryan visited the newly-constructed Integrated Science Center and met with selected faculty and staff. Ryan also had lunch with the winners of the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, Presidential Scholars, and the Federal Reserve Challenge student team of 2006. To conclude his day at Geneseo, Ryan led a GOLD Workshop focusing on the role of a leader and the many difficult tasks involved.
Ryan, who was appointed chancellor of the SUNY system in 2005, is highly qualified in the realm of leadership. In total, Ryan has held 11 leadership positions. His remarkable expertise in the field of leadership began with his service in the U.S. Navy, in which he served for 35 years and accrued several service awards. He eventually worked his way up to the position of Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. Before he assumed the role of chancellor, Ryan was President of SUNY Maritime College, where he enjoyed the highest enrollment of students in SUNY Maritime's history, and later served as interim president of the University of Albany.
"Dialogue with Community Leaders," Ryan's GOLD Workshop, was an hour-long event that delivered Ryan's words of wisdom regarding leadership and the many challenges such a role entails. Dahl said that Ryan's GOLD Workshop was "very successful in a number of respects," because it taught those who were present about leadership from the chancellor's own personal experience. In Dahl's words, "it was a very helpful session. It was a pleasure to just see the chancellor be able to spend time with the students."
Perhaps most notably during the workshop, Ryan distinguished the difference between a leader's recurring conflict between "making the bottom line" and "doing the right thing" for the organization or company with which you work. In addressing such a conflict, Ryan quoted Rosabeth Moss Kanter's three elements of leadership - accountability, collaboration and initiative. In his words, these three elements ensure that you can make wise decisions as a leader and eliminate the existence of such a conflict.
Ryan also spoke about the impact his role as a leader has had on him. "I find that leadership is a humbling experience." He continued, "I have been personally touched by people I have met in each of my positions. They have all positively affected me and taught me many lessons that I continue to apply to life today."
Senior Carmen Chan attended Ryan's GOLD Workshop. "It was really refreshing, in a way," said Chan. "He made points that most of us already knew but that we often lose sight of or forget." She continued, "He proved to us that everyone has it in them to be an effective leader. When I left the room, I felt motivated and wanted to do more for myself and for others, particularly within the school community."