Sep. 5, 2017

Batten’s “Extraordinary” Strengths Prepare Batten for Promising Year, Dean Stam Tells School Town Hall

Dean Allan Stam welcomed the Batten School community to its 11th year of service with a “State of the School” address that saluted the school’s strengths, and also emphasized its values in response to last month’s violent confrontations on Grounds and in Charlottesville, including the deaths of three people on Aug. 12.

“Each of you — students, faculty, staff — all of you in this room collectively have been brought here, selected, with an eye for serving in a current or future leadership role, whether as a leader of action, a leader of thought, a leader of conscience,” Stam said in his Aug. 23 talk. He spoke in the Great Room of Garrett Hall at a Town Hall at the first weekly Batten Hour meeting of the new academic year.

“Leaders must be willing to tolerate more risk, more stress, than those whom they are leading.”

Dean Allan C. Stam

A week earlier, Stam had told the Batten community in an e-mail message that, “given the recent events on Grounds and in Charlottesville, the Batten Hour…will give us an opportunity to reflect as a community on the tragedy that took place this past weekend and engage in a dialogue about positive ways to move forward.”

In his address, Stam reiterated Batten’s renunciation of the aims of the white nationalists who brought their protests to the Grounds and downtown Charlottesville.

“First, I want to join President (Teresa) Sullivan (of UVA) in her eloquent and persistent rejection of violence and bigotry. Racism and intolerance have no place here. We in the Batten community stand as one in their rejection. We reject the views and beliefs of neo-Nazis, skinheads, white supremacists, the KKK, and others of their ilk. We also reject the violence and vigilantism, (of) the Antifa, and other provocateurs. The deaths of two state troopers (Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates) and community activist Heather Heyer are tragedies.

Stam also encouraged the Batten community “in the months ahead (to) take time to personally thank the first responders — from the medical center, the firemen, police, state troopers — for the very difficult work they do.”

Stam emphasized the value of “rational, deliberative thought” during times of stress, when decision-making could be either fast or slow, reactive or deliberative, emotive or rational.

“Both of these processes (fast and slow) are part of each and every one of us. Both are useful, if not essential, at the right place and right time. (But) in the wrong place and the wrong time, relying on the wrong of these two systems will lead to failure and embarrassment.”

To emphasize his point, Stam read Rudyard Kipling’s well-known poem “If,” begins with an exhortation to “keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs.”

And he cautioned his audience that there is no complete safety in public spaces. ”Our community values diversity of thought and rejects intolerance. We want each of you to feel welcome and respected in our community. (But) we do ourselves a great disservice if we were to promise safe spaces, to claim this school as a refuge of safety while at the same time honoring our unwavering commitment to free speech.”

He cited the March 31 forum at Batten by U.S. Congressman Tom Garrett, where Garrett wore a bulletproof vest as more than 100 law enforcement officers protected the venue.

Stam reminded his listeners that the policy-making world is a competitive environment of risks and rewards. Batten, he acknowledged, “is a competitive environment. But the degree of competitiveness within this school pales in comparison to the degree of competitiveness in the outside world.

“If you seek substantial reward for your team and community, you will necessarily incur substantial risk.”

Batten’s embrace of risk and reward includes plans for a new and substantially larger building, with more details to be known by December about the location, size, budget, and funding plans, Stam said, and reminded them of the charge from the school’s primary benefactor, the late business leader Frank Batten:

“Never has there been a greater need for the University’s most important product:  enlightened and ethical leaders who leave the Grounds prepared for public life — in their communities, in their professions, in the world at large.”

“The state of our school is strong,” Stam said. “Our future, working together, is bright.”

The Batten School “is in great shape in our quest to fulfill the school’s vision. Our human and financial capital are in extraordinary shape…to continue building the best school of leadership and policy analysis in the country, to supply a network of alumni leaders for leadership — in, and, and for public policy.”

In This Article

Dean, Professor of Public Policy
Email Address
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett 107