We had a USC Library wide forum yesterday. About 200 people showed up. That was probably the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen in a library forum. Everyone was excited to see the new dean of the library in person.
We recently hired a new dean from University of British Columbia in Canada, Catherine Quinlan. She just joined us yesterday. As a person with well known reputations and experiences, she appears to be a charming and approachable leader. She had a very short boyish hair style that made her look like one of those career driven woman. However, when she started speaking to us, her soft and yet determined voice captured all of us.
She started off her speech by telling us jokes that soften the atmosphere, also shared one of her personal story after arriving in LA. She told us that she got invited to a Hispanic wedding to play cello by one of the hotel maids from the hotel she stayed at. Living in Canada most of her life, she has never been to a Hispanic event where everyone else was speaking Spanish. She said perhaps she needs to start learning Spanish after she learned that Spanish is the second biggest language here in LA. Her story helped us to learn that she is someone who is readily approachable and someone who is not afraid to try new things.
Her speech was short and concise, but every word cut right to the point. She spoke in an articulate and easily understandable manner that helped all of us to understand her message. When talking about our new strategic planning, she said she does not like to drag things on forever. She started off by setting a deadline for us and made sure we would all follow and implement the plan by next year. When answering questions, Catherine does not dodge answers and she answered some of the difficult questions with graceful and determined manner. From my observation, she seems to be a person with action, not just big words.
In my mind, Catherine exemplifies what a good leader should be. Some people are just born with natural leadership talent. Charming, approachable, knowledgeable, articulate, great interpersonal and communications skills….the list goes on for the qualities of being a great leader. I don’t have much leadership skill, so I always admire those people who are natural-born leaders. Well, this is going to be another new era for USC library. We’ll see how Catherine performs in the next couple of months.