July 1 will mark my first anniversary as Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. All in all, it’s been a delightful new challenge after 35 years in the military. Here’s an excerpt from my new piece in TIME about my transition from Supreme Allied Commander at NATO to academia.
“I went from an organization representing half of the world’s GDP and 3 million men and women in uniform to one with 700 graduate students and 150 faculty and administrators. It was a startling shift.
People kept saying, “it must be pretty challenging to go from the military — where people more or less do what you order them to do — to the world of academe, where no one is going to salute and move out.” The President of Tufts, to whom I report, was asked why on earth he hired a military guy to lead one of his graduate schools. He said, only slightly in jest, “I wanted at least one dean who knows how to follow orders.” There’s certainly some truth in that.
The transition has gone well. Why? Because of things I learned along the path of what my father jokingly referred to as my misspent youth in the Navy.
First, I have focused on listening and learning, especially in this first year. I have been reading not only classics on higher education (The University: An Owner’s Manual by Henry Rosovsky), but also brilliant novels about this world (Stoner by John Williams and Something for Nothing by Michael Klein). I’ve also reached out to mentors in this industry, from Robert Gates, former President of Texas A&M, to Jack DeGioia of Georgetown, to Donna Shalala at the University of Miami, and many others.
Second, … [Please finish this article on TIME.com.]
It’s been a terrific first year, returning to The Fletcher School. I’m looking forward to the next one.
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.