Day 28: Fallon, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA

Today we left Nevada and crossed the border into California.  It was a pretty mountainous ride from Fallon to South Lake Tahoe.

We made  a special stop in Reno to visit the Hempel family. Addison and Cassidy are identical twin girls who were diagnosed with NPC in October 2007 when they were four years old. Their parents, Chris and Hugh Hempel, stepped up with extraordinary courage and perseverance and joined the fight against NPC for Addi and Cassi like so many families who find themselves in such circumstances and respond with generosity and hope. In 2012, the Hempels drove to Carson City to meet me along the Road to Discovery route. This year, Addi and Cassi met me right under the Reno sign downtown with their little specialty bicycles. Seeing them was such an incredible inspiration. At the College of Science, we always say that’s it’s not just what we do, it’s why we do it. The Hempel twins are a great reason that we continue this fight against NPC. Thank you, Hempel family, for coming out to see me. Addi and Cassi, it was wonderful seeing you again—you inspire us all!

Visit with Cassi and Addi Hempel, and their dad Hugh

Visiting Cassi and Addi Hempel, and their dad Hugh

I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce a very special gift that was made by the Rice family from Dallas, TX, in honor of their brother, Simon Peter Rice, who passed away due to a rare congenital kidney birth defect at a very young age.  Simon Peter’s three brothers, Notre Dame Law graduate P. Kramer Rice, Collier Rice, and Winston Rice established the Simon Peter Rice Endowment for Excellence at Notre Dame to support student research in the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases at the University of Notre Dame. Their generosity means we will have the necessary resources to perform cutting-edge research in the area of birth defects and rare diseases, with a special emphasis on rare congenital kidney disorders.

This gift not only will allow Notre Dame researchers to start performing new avenues of research on rare kidney disorder but also provide a great opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to solve a real world problem, further engaging them in this important research area. Additionally, it brings awareness to rare diseases and birth defect research as the students prepare to become future physicians and scientists in this promising field.

Thank you to the entire Rice family, and please know that it is your commitment to fighting rare diseases that keeps me getting back on the bike every day.

As I was climbing from Reno to South Lake Tahoe today, I was thinking about my new position in California as a vice president and associate provost for Notre Dame, and I was feeling sentimental. It made me appreciate one of the most important things I have learned in my seven years as a dean at Notre Dame—the importance of the right kind of leadership in the academy. I have learned this from remarkable leaders, including President Jenkins, Provost Burish, my fellow deans, and the department chairs who do such a wonderful job in advancing our mission through their work. I am collecting the lessons in a book with the working title The Intangibles, because the qualities required for academic leadership are not easily weighed and measured. Preparation for these roles involves learning through experience, not lectures and tests, and my book is intended to help young faculty members and others who aspire to leadership to reflect on how their present positions can help them develop the qualifications.

Those intangibles include virtues and emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotional states and others’. Virtues are those personal characteristics, developed through practice and habit, that equip us to make good decisions and achieve our good goals. They were described in detail by Aristotle in ancient Greece. The “cardinal virtues” are listed as practical wisdom (prudence), justice, moderation (temperance), and fortitude, but there are many others that relate to those, and modern observers have identified new virtues—one of my favorites is “grit,” a combination of passion and perseverance. These qualities are important not only for the individuals development but also for the flourishing of the community. To me, the virtues have a lot to do with why Notre Dame is so well-respected and special.

Virtues and emotional intelligence are the foundation for successful academic leadership in a wide variety of ways. Universities are highly complex organizations, with a concentration of extremely intelligent, independent, entrepreneurial people. Leading such a group cannot involve giving top-down orders—it must be servant-leadership that appreciates the contributions of each individual, keeps the focus on the common vision, and emphasizes a positive approach that builds optimism and collaboration.  The leader must be able to build teams, foster consensus, engage outside collaborators, contribute to the larger community, and take setbacks in stride as steps toward achieving the goal. I have seen that kind of leadership consistently at Notre Dame. It is part of the University’s excellence and success, an example of the values we have to share that will improve the lives of individuals and the whole society.

2 Comments so far

  1.    Giovanna Mastrovich on June 24th, 2015

    Godspeed Dean Crawford!

  2.    Jan H on June 25th, 2015

    God Bless the Rice family for their generosity.