Yesterday, members of The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down for an on the record interview with Penn's new Executive Vice President Clifford Stanley. The following are excerpts from that interview. Clifford Stanley: First of all, I don't know too much about some of the internal -- I'm learning an awful lot, but I don't know a whole lot about some of the internal politics and I haven't really been here that long, as you probably know. I've been here about a month in terms of working. I've been in the city of Philadelphia one week longer than that. Penn came to me and asked me if I would be interested. I was tracking pretty well in my career, as you know, in the Marine Corps.... What I liked most was you, which is the reason I came -- the students -- because that is what my focus is.... I have a lot of learning, but still trying to get my staff organized right and trying to get people out of being in silos. Silos mean that people are not cross talking, which affects organization, which affects communication.... The first initiative is in the area of just cleaning up because I think the area is trashy.... But it's a lot more than just cleaning up. It's actually dealing with some psyche issues, the psychology of people who trash, who condone, who focus -- who walk with kind of a selfish attitude....
DP: To start off, how are you doing in terms of settling into the job? CS: I think I'm doing pretty well.... I'm having a good time. I like the people. I really do, I mean I really like the people. I like the environment. My biggest challenges aren't even at work. They deal with my family. My wife is paraplegic, in a wheelchair, and neither of us have ever lived in Philadelphia. And we left a culture that is very family-oriented.... And of course, if you live on a base, which is where we just left, everybody knows you -- thousands, but everybody knows you... and you come into a place where, you know, you're just another one of the people.... This is not a wheelchair-friendly area in terms of the actual, you know, West Philadelphia, and so the challenge is there. And you probably need to know that that is an area that I'll be looking at because it's very personal for me in terms of wheelchair accessibility and being able to get from point A to point B.... So I spend a big part of my day, a chunk of my day, thinking about issues like that as I approach anything... but I'm adjusting. I like it. I don't really miss the Marine Corps. I don't. And I'm excited about doing this next part of my life.
DP: You're highly experienced in leadership in the military, and people have said that's why you're such an attractive candidate for this job. Has it been a challenge that you haven't had experience in higher education, or, conversely, how does that help you? CS: Well, first of all I have had experience in higher education, because I ran the entire Marine Corps, their operations, and I taught at the Naval Academy.... My passion is this, this part. What I'm doing right now is like Nirvana. I mean I have actually arrived.... I like to be some place where we don't always have to agree... everything I was looking at -- even though I hadn't made the decision to transition -- everything that I looked at was education.... I was a finalist for the school system here, as you probably know. It didn't fit. It wasn't the right fit. At this point in my life, I didn't need that kind of political stuff going on in my life for a system with lots of moving parts, with people, unlike you. There are a lot of different things, first of all, with folks with lots of different interests that are not really pulling the same way to make the education chain work. What I do see at Penn and institutions like this is, at least the educators are pulling in the right direction.
DP: There are still vocal groups in West Philadelphia that have been highly critical of Penn. How do you feel about Penn's relationship with and its role in West Philadelphia? CS: ...Before coming here I heard about some of the strains in the community.... I've always been community-based and community-oriented.... I'm aware of strained relations and I've heard the play on the word gentrification -- Penntrification.... I understand there's a very delicate balance that you try to improve and at the same time not push aside.... There's always going to be somebody that's not going to like it, whatever you're doing. I want to get to know the people, but I know that there's some scar tissue.... Trust is very important.... That fits for what's happening on this campus, with different groups, or different silos as I referred to earlier, and particularly with the community, I think trust is very important.... I know I'm going to have limitations doing that, especially while I learn, because there's so much I don't know, and this is not a structured environment.... The issue now is having some expertise to try to get there. Really, my fundamental purpose right now is to get the silos closed down, build teamwork....
DP: Could you talk a little bit about your ideas for the future of Penn's real estate ventures? CS: ...My biggest concern right now is making sure that we have the money to do what we say we want to do, and also, although I don't know the big picture yet and I don't want to get in trouble saying this, but there's a balance between retail and academe in our priorities.... Academia has some things they need. I can't get the students here, we can't get the students here, I know that, if the area's unsafe, it's not clean, crime -- things like that.... I just left the capital planning meeting this morning... do we have the money to do what we should be doing? How do we share what we're doing right now, i.e. do we want to buy the Post Office, do we not want to buy the Post Office?... Should we be fixing leaky buildings and doors that don't work, and elevators that aren't safe?... There is a balance there, that begins with student access, faculty, staff, administration access... and I don't know what the balance is yet.... In my background, integrity is really important.... I try to be good and just and fair, you know, those kind of things, and respecting people, and all those things, embracing that integrity.
DP: What are your plans for the 40th Street corridor now that the movie theater is there? CS: Don't know! I actually don't know. I mean, I just learned where 40th Street is.... I'm concerned about the real estate up there and whether or not we're going to have any retail out there to kind of make this thing really viable. I'm hoping it will.... I honestly don't know, and to be honest with you, it's probably going to be a few more months before I... at least have some idea of how I want to do this.
DP: What are your thoughts on the job that John Fry did? CS: ...I don't really know John Fry. From what I hear, I hear he did a great job and it was a time-related thing -- in other words, there was a time he was here that was really, really important for where Penn is, and then President Rodin made a decision, and I guess the Board of Trustees, that they wanted to go in a little different direction, continuing to march on the things they did in the past to capitalize on them, but at the same time build a little bit different kind of infrastructure. I have similar visions in terms of infrastructure, but also would like to continue to build on the success that we've had. I spoke with John Fry about three times. He called me once to congratulate me. That was when we first met, by the telephone, and we've talked a couple of times since then. He's been pretty busy, and now he's going to be even busier, because now he's on the transition team. I hope to meet him some day, though. I really do. I look forward to it.
DP: When Trammell Crow was hired in 1998, outsourcing was hailed as the new way for universities to do business. Now, Penn has hired three separate firms to manage off-campus real estate. Do you feel that outsourcing is still the way Penn should be handling construction projects? CS: ...Outsourcing works when it's the right thing to do. I know that sounds like a political answer, but it's true. When you look at what you have -- and I don't have those assets internally, so it's actually going to cost me more money to do this, or I could outsource it and probably do it a little bit not only cheaper, but efficiently or more efficiently, outsourcing is probably the way to go.... If I did it internally, a lot of times, then that would just help me make my decision on outsourcing. I'd have to have an administrative office. I'd have to have somebody to supervise this part. I'd have to have somebody to do the actual task itself, whereas with outsourcing, all I would have to do is just the task itself, and they would handle all the overheads and administrative offices and things like that.... I don't know any of the details regarding Trammell Crow. I mean, I've heard of them.... The bottom line is that I know there's some outsourcing going on, and I think right now that it was the right thing to do based upon the kind of rationale I just gave you. Even right now in the military, they are making a big push for outsourcing. Where we were, we outsourced some things. We outsourced, believe it or not, dining. We outsourced some areas of utilities because it was smarter to do than do it ourselves. So I can see some balance there, and we need serious cost analysis to help us support these decisions. I know those areas. I don't know what we did here.
DP: Penn has significantly increased its retail dining options in recent years, and some have said this conflicts with the mission of Dining Services. What do you view as dining's role at a campus like Penn? CS: I don't have a clue about what the current structure is right now. Not a clue. I am going to be eating at the dining facilities here real soon.... I do feel, like I said initially, though, that dining should be serving you, and you should be as happy as you potentially can be as a group. We're not going to please everybody. There's no way to do that, considering people's different tastes, things like that.... A lot of people go to the stands... the food carts. I mean, I see a lot of people lined up.... How do I make that appear to be the same kind of a University plan? Maybe I can work that into the plan. I don't know what the answer is, but I just want to make sure we cater toward the student needs and make sure it's healthy in the long term. And I may not like all of that either, because we may find out that there are some challenges with food carts that they may not want to embrace. I don't know. So I'm looking at it, but I don't know enough yet.Comments powered by Disqus
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