ACE Fellow Sees a Different Side of the University

Posted: November 16, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

Rajib Sanyal, professor of management and international business at The College of New Jersey’s School of Business, is likely to turn up at a lot of different places at George Mason this year. He is at the university for the 2004-05 academic year through the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Fellows Program.

Since its inception in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program has provided hundreds of academics with the hands-on skills needed to assume future positions at the highest levels of university and college administration. Through the program, ACE fellows are in residence for one year at another institution, where they work closely with that university’s president and provost in a process of experiential learning.

Rajib Sanyal
Rajib Sanyal
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Sanyal, who holds a PhD in business from Georgia State University with a specialization in employment and labor relations, says, “This is a luxury to get this fellowship. I have a salary, benefits from my home institution, and no responsibilities in the traditional sense. This is a great opportunity to do things that one doesn’t always have the chance to do; to do some reading, thinking, inquiring, and writing. I can explore myself.”

Arriving in August, Sanyal spent his first 10 weeks at Mason meeting all of the vice presidents, deans, and directors, in addition to individuals such as Sid Dewberry, rector of the Board of Visitors; James Bennett, chair of the Faculty Senate; George Ginovsky, assistant chief of police; and Jed Blue, editor in chief of Broadside.

“I’m focusing on learning about George Mason, about getting a feel for the organizational culture. What makes it work? How do the students see the university? How do the faculty and staff see the university?” says Sanyal. “I get to see leadership in action and how the senior officers conduct themselves, approach problems, and address problems. When you are looking at something from this high a level, the perspective is very different than if you are a faculty member or a department chair. When I was a chair, I thought that was the world, but there are many parts to a university.”

Regarding his day-to-day activities, Sanyal says, “In some ways, one has to define this position, because it’s not really a ‘job.’ It’s a year of learning, observing, listening, asking questions, and reading.” Sanyal meets with other ACE Fellows for various workshops in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the country. University presidents and provosts speak to them about key issues in higher education, ranging from finances to diversity. Sanyal also attends various meetings of President Alan Merten’s staff and Provost Peter Stearns and has regular one-on-one discussions with Merten and Stearns. “I look forward to those conversations. They are insightful, and I always appreciate their candor.”

Sanyal has also set some personal learning goals for himself. “I am very interested in the issues of fund-raising. That has become a bigger part of the academic world, as the states give less to state universities, and not all universities have huge endowments like Princeton or Harvard,” says Sanyal. “So there is a big challenge to raise additional resources. What does it take to raise money? Do you have to have a certain personality to raise money successfully?

“I also have some time to do some writing, including research for a textbook, and because I am meeting a lot of people, I’m developing a network of connections outside my academic discipline. However, I never want to lose focus on the primary reason I am here, which is to learn about academic administration.”

Sanyal is scheduled to be at George Mason until mid-June. “After my year is over, I will go back to The College of New Jersey, where, presuming I have had a good experience, I will probably be offered an administrative position,” he says.

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