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Settling into Garrett Hall, I am struck by the extraordinary opportunity before us. There are more than 250 schools of public policy and administration in the United States. As the nation’s only school explicitly committed to teaching both evidence-based leadership and rigorous policy analysis, the Batten School is positioned to be the national leader in the evolution of leadership training and policy research. The timing for the Batten School’s emergence could not be more propitious as our nation faces policy challenges on numerous fronts.
Leadership and team-building skills have an extraordinary multiplier effect on policy and organizational outcomes. They often are the crucial difference separating success from failure, accounting for when the best policies and practices emerge.
My own work, first in the U.S. military and then as an academic, demonstrates that civil society leaders and security policymakers alike must work as a team to achieve their community’s goals and that leaders and the strategies they adopt are the most powerful drivers shaping the world around us. Issues of war and peace, of advancing community interests in the face of sectarian and ethnic divisions, have been at the heart of my research teams’ work. My recent projects focus on leaders, leadership studies, and strategy. All of our projects drill deeply into the relevant data while keeping an ear to the ground for pertinent historical evidence.
Looking ahead, three pillars supporting Batten’s evolution are clear: (1) cementing leadership and team-building best practices into our curriculum and policy outreach, (2) establishing Garrett Hall as a national locus of evidence-based policy research, and (3) teaching advanced policy analysis skills to UVA’s extraordinary students. These pillars emerge from the School’s remarkable foundation built under our founding dean, Harry Harding. Together with the school’s pioneering students and our outstanding young faculty, we have a solid core with which to launch the next phase of our development.
What will the near future bring? We will double down on our commitment to teaching practical leadership and team building skills. We will continue to recruit top-notch scholars and practitioners in economics, psychology, and political science. We will complete the job of scaling up our MPP and BA programs to serve over 300 scholar-students. We will invest heavily in interdisciplinary projects on leadership and teamwork. Across Grounds, we will collaborate with practitioners and scholars alike to advance our understanding of public policy best practices. We will expand our engagement in Richmond and Washington to heighten our impact on the national policymaking conversation.
Our goal is clear: to realize the Batten family’s vision of building the best school of leadership and policy analysis in the nation to best shape our shared future. I thank each of you in advance for your commitment, your support, and your engagement.
© 2014 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia