Plowman Talks Leadership on Higher Ed Athletics Podcast
Chancellor Donde Plowman appeared in early November on the Higher Ed Athletics podcast, where she discussed her personal leadership style with host Travis Smith and offered advice to emerging leaders in higher education administration.
Plowman replied to questions ranging from Peyton Manning’s new role as a professor of practice (“I don’t think there is an ambassador for a university that comes anywhere close to what Peyton has always been to this university”) to her process for hiring Director of Athletics Danny White shortly after her arrival on Rocky Top (“I said, ‘Danny, I’m really trying to build this university to be a great university, and I can’t do it without a great athletic department.’”).
In the interview, Plowman talked about the intersection of athletics and academics on a college campus and how success in one area fuels the other.
“I’m a builder—that’s a term I’ve always used,” Plowman said, as she described her pitch to White when recruiting him to become UT’s next athletics director.
Plowman described her role as chancellor as the “campus CEO” and said she leans on her team of advisors and leaders for their expert feedback on campus decisions and direction—including the athletics director, who sits on the chancellor’s cabinet.
“Danny has been a vital member of that group, because sometimes the solutions to the problems we are talking about come from things he has been thinking about for athletics and vice versa,” Plowman said.
As an organizational scientist and leader in higher education, Plowman gave advice to up-and-coming professionals in the field.
“When I was a new dean, somebody gave me the advice to go and sit down with every person in the college in their office. People just pour their hearts out and you learn so much. I would recommend it to anyone,” Plowman said.
She went on to mention how her strategy to connect with a campus of 36,000 students and nearly 9,000 faculty and staff has shifted to town halls, office hours, and a strong social media presence.
“People want to feel like they matter and that they are connected to where they come from,” Plowman said. “I want people to feel like they know me even though I may never meet them.”
Watch the full interview below.