Leaders Who Care
I was warmly surprised when the MyUVicLife Blog team got to meet Dr. Kevin Hall, President of the University of Victoria.
I know that leaders tend to be quite good at talking to people, but that doesn’t always mean they care. Kevin (don’t need to always call him President Hall) really does care. Cares about a lot of things but also showed that he cared about us students today.
One of the things he did was take notes as each of us introduced ourselves. He will probably never meet us again, but he still took notes about us and was putting effort into remembering who we are.
Sometimes leaders govern from afar, hearing input from their circle and letting information climb a hierarchy. Leaders like Kevin take a different approach. Despite the pandemic, he mentioned that he had probably met about 3000 students, staff, and alumni at UVic and had conversations with them. While many of these were probably brief, it shows that he is out investing his time to become part of the community.
It’s easy for any of us to say we are busy, or we would have done something if we had more time. However, we make time for what is important to us, and when people put actions behind their words it becomes more powerful.
Kevin spoke on a variety of topics like Indigenous reconciliation, sustainability, etc., and wasn’t framing everything like UVic was “the best ever/ is doing great”. He calmly and without second thought acknowledged there are many gaps, issues, and a lot of work to be done on various fronts of the university. It wasn’t a sales pitch, it felt authentic and genuine. Furthermore, he emphasized and appreciated that the MyUVicLife blog is the student experience, unfiltered and authentic, which as a writer, I appreciated.
Additionally, I was impressed when he recognized his privilege as an “old white man” and spoke about using that privilege to make a difference.
During the Zoom meeting, I got to ask two questions:
1. What is your thought process that it is the vocal minority that constitutes a lot of the student voice and that it isn’t necessarily representative about how all of UVic feels?
2. What is your opinion of the 3-year undergrad in Australia – will that ever be an option for UVic?
For both of these questions, he answered empathetically and showed that he saw different sides/perspectives. I didn’t only get his opinion, but I learned something.
Obviously, Kevin must be pretty good at first impressions as you could tell it obviously inspired me. The leadership style that I got a glimpse of is something I want to emulate parts of, and hope others think about incorporating aspects of this authentic, down-to-earth, caring style in their lives, whether as a leader or not.
In December, my time at UVic will be coming to a close, but I am excited for the future students to see what changes in experience and improvements will occur under Kevin’s leadership.