The State of Iowa hosted the latest open forum in its search for a new Vice President for Advisory and Public Relations and heard a presentation from Gregg Hadley, current Director of Advisory Services at Kansas State University.
Hadley was introduced by the Dean of the College of Human Sciences, Laura Jolly. Jolly said Hadley earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his doctorate and master’s degrees from Michigan State University, all in agricultural economics.
Hadley said that although his leadership style usually has to do with following the general consensus, there are times when a more authoritarian leadership style is required to get tasks done.
“So you want to reach out and branch out and bring in the leadership style that’s needed for that particular issue,” Hadley said. “And while 85% of the time you’ll hear me talking about inclusion, feedback and whatnot, there are times when you need to adjust your style.”
Hadley said it’s important to think from the perspective of voters and learners. He said the extension is about meeting people where they are, giving them the information they need, when they need it and how they need it.
Hadley said leadership roles are not limited to the people at the top of an organization; Rather, every person involved in a community is a leader in some form.
“No matter what you do in a community, you are a leader,” Hadley said. “So as part of professional development in consulting, we need to ensure that all of our consulting staff receive as much leadership training as possible.”
Hadley also spoke about the importance of expansion and outreach within the land grant mission. Hadley broken it down into three acts that dictated the existence of land grant universities. The Morrill Act permitted the establishment of land-grant universities, the Hatch Act gave land-grant universities resources to conduct their own agricultural research, and the Smith-Lever Act provided for the creation of advisory services associated with land-grant -Universities were connected.
“So it took a while for the dissemination and outreach role to develop in the Land Grant Mission, but it’s deeply rooted in the Land Grant Mission,” Hadley said. “In fact, it was the third missing piece in the development of our society. And that’s why it’s incredibly important.”
Hadley said the three aspects of the land grant mission are often treated as three separate silos that occasionally work together. Although education, research and advice can all be valuable in their own right, people see the greatest benefit when they work together in a cohesive manner.
“It’s really going back to that old concept that research is for the benefit of the field and the benefit of the state, teaching is for the benefit of the state and then extension for that,” Hadley said. “All of this is working together and simultaneously, not necessarily by the university putting out information, but information coming back to the university.”
Hadley said if a university has a strong community extension program, it will likely encourage students coming to the university and stakeholders willing to collaborate with the university on research.
“There are many things we need to work on overtime, but one thing is we need to do it together,” Hadley said. “We need to look more holistically at the teaching mission, the research mission, the consulting mission, and the nature of the work as we address the issues affecting our state and local communities.”
After Hadley’s presentation, the forum opened for questions from the audience. A member of the online audience asked how Hadley would work with state legislators and express the value of expansion and reach.
Hadley said that as Kansas’ director of extension, he would hold annual meetings with a number of key lawmakers and engage in discussions on how to strengthen the extension and how the extension is addressing critical issues.
“And one of the things that’s really won over lawmakers is that we’re facilitating a lot of critical issues,” Hadley said. “And two of those lawmakers, one Democrat, one Republican, knew the next session was going to be difficult and they just asked us, ‘Could you have a session where you just talk about civil discourse and how to have discussions .'”
Hadley said when lawmakers saw what the session did for attendees, who learned how to debate controversial issues, it made the rest of lawmakers more respectful of the extension.
Another listener pointed out the similarities between economics and history and asked how Hadley’s background in economics showed he was the right person for the job.
Hadley said history is very important and offers opportunities to learn from decisions and actions people have already made. Hadley also said that one aspect of being an economist is looking to the future for opportunities and potential bumps along the way.
“So I would say my economics background, with just those two perspectives, prepared me very well,” Hadley said. “Also, as an economist, I’m used to working with big numbers, so as far as the budget goes, it’s pretty easy. But yes, business can be both forward-looking and historical.”