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Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One


CCHE 600 Leadership Skills
Samantha Tallman
Northern Arizona University

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

Position & Responsibilities


Dr. Joseph Veres is the current Director of K-12 Outreach at Grand Canyon
University in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also a professor in the College of Doctoral Studies
and teaches several courses on leadership. I was able to get to know him while he was
the principal at Desert Wind Middle School in Maricopa, Arizona. I worked as a teacher
under his leadership for 5 years. In his current position, Dr. Veres role at Grand
Canyon University created and maintains the GCU Lounge. The GCU Lounge is an
area on the colleges campus for the local high school students. GCU currently has
agreements with Alhambra High School, Bourgade Catholic High School, Faith
Christian School, and Maryvale High School. At the GCU lounge high school students
received tutoring in math & reading, help with their homework, and a taste of college life
in a safe and comfortable environment. This means some of Dr. Veres responsibilities
are finding and training tutors, community relations, and maintaining the vision of the
program. Creating affiliation agreements between GCU and local high schools also falls
under his responsibilities. Making sure that students who participate in the program are
aware of the rules and parents have given permission for their child to attend is another
important responsibility. Dr. Veres builds relationships with superintendents and local
principals, makes presentations to involve additional schools, and ensures the program
is running smoothly. While Dr. Veres relies on his GCU Lounge Manager for the day-today operation, he is responsible for overseeing the project as a whole.

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

Leadership Style
Inspiring others to greatness is how I would describe Dr. Veres leadership style.
He definitely leads by example, holding himself to a higher standard than others might.
He has never done the minimum requirements of a job, but is always aiming for the next
level. He takes action, inspiring others to take action of their own. Showing you what a
good leader looks like is not his goal, but rather to show you how to become a leader
yourself. Dr. Veres leadership style is similar to that of transformational leadership.
According to Northouse (2013) transformational leadership is concerned with emotions,
values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals. It includes assessing followers motives,
satisfying their needs, and treating them as full human beings. (p 185) While leading,
Dr. Veres is not only concerned with getting the job done, he wants to make sure that
the way in which the job was completed is positive for all involved. He wants individuals
to have grown as they help the organization grow. Dr. Veres uses a symbolic
framework to help guide his leadership style. According to McArdle (2013) the symbolic
framework is in place when culture is created through the use of symbols, myths,
values, and visions. The culture of our school was family. Dr. Veres treated us like
family, we treated each other like family, and our students were treated like family. As
mirrored in real life, families disagree sometimes, but resolutions are found to problems
and at the end of the day, you know that the family has your back. We had traditions,
we played practical jokes on one another, we shared a common vision, and we worked
together to build common values. The staff even had a myth that the students to this
day still believe one of a mythical pool on the roof of our building. Students believed
the security card access badges all teachers had were the way to get in because they

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

looked exactly like the key cards used to access the community pools within the city.
The myth was verified by a shadow on the buildings roof as seen from Google Earth!
While these things may seem trivial, they actually were the foundation of the culture Dr.
Veres worked so hard to build and nurture within our school.
Leadership Characteristics & Attributes
There are several characteristics or personal attributes that make Dr. Veres a
leader. The three qualities that he possesses that I feel are most influential are building
trust, leading by example, and having an aura of power. Dr. Veres makes sure that the
people working for him are comfortable by making sure they know he supports
them. When employees trust the people theyre working for they are much more likely
to take risks. While I was working for Dr. Veres, I knew that he trusted me to handle my
own classroom. He treated me like the professional I am, and I was able to reach
amazing academic goals with my students. Dr. Veres always led by example. Our
district had a strict no visible tattoo policy, and Dr. Veres is a tattoo enthusiast. He
came to work every single day with long sleeves, even on the hottest days, to cover his
tattoos and adhere to the district policy. Dr. Veres was not just an example for his
teachers; he was an example for our students. You would often see Dr. Veres picking
up trash in the hallways on his way from place to place. The kids would see the
principal picking up trash, and would instantly pitch in because if he was doing it, then it
must be important. Dr. Veres was surrounded by an aura of power. Even though he is
not physically intimidating at 56, his personality demands respect. He demanded
respect, not in words, but through actions. He was able to create a staff of individuals
that would follow him anywhere, through anything. The family that he was able to

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

create at Desert Wind Middle School is a rarity, something that I am blessed to have
been a part of, and something that I know is unlikely to happen again.
Leadership Competencies
Dr. Veres embodies all six of the leadership competencies as explained by Eddy
(2010), which are: organizational strategy, resource management, communication,
collaboration, institutional advocacy, and professionalism. The decisions made by Dr.
Veres were always driven by data, helping to guide our organization toward our goals.
He never went into battle without a plan, and his plan was always based on data. He
utilized any and all opportunities to provide teachers and students with resources. He
came to me and suggested that I put together a grant proposal to earn our school the
21st Century Learning Centers Grant. This grant is a $5 million dollar award that would
provide funding for a before and after school program. I wrote the grant proposal, which
was granted, designed the program, implemented and ran it. His leadership helped
earn us these resources. Communication was high on Dr. Veres priority list. He felt
that our parents couldnt have enough information, so he had all of his teachers send a
weekly communication home. I chose to send weekly emails to the parents of every
student I taught, and continue to do so now. The support from parents is phenomenal
when they know what is going on in your class. Amey (2013) describes collaboration as
leaders and members throughout the [organization] work[ing] across boundaries and
work and learn together, co-constructing new realities. (p 146) It was never good
enough for us to meet with our coworkers to discuss what was happening, the
expectation when we met was to evoke change and bring our teaching to a new level.
Dr. Veres never stopped advocating for our school. According to Amey (2103) Leading

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One

for change means doing more than first order change that maintains the status quo; it
entails creating opportunities, innovations, and initiatives for the institution. (p 144)
After winning the Samsung Grant that provided our campus with $100,000 of brand new
technology, Dr. Veres began a blended learning program for our middle school
students. Students registered for the program were housed physically on our campus,
but spent their day in a classroom that felt more like an Internet cafe. Instead of desks,
there were couches and beanbags instead of strict schedules and moving from one
class to another, students completed their coursework online. We were able to blend
the flexibility of going to school online with the social benefits of attending a brick &
mortar school. This blended learning concept is something he started at Desert Wind,
recreated at GCU, and according to his interview with PR Newswire (2013), Dr. Veres is
looking to expand his vision to a national level. It's going to be good for the community,
it will be good for the students, it will be good for the university. Our long-term vision is
that this will become a national model that every university looks to emulate."
Conclusion
Dr. Veres is a large part of my decision to continue my education, and why Ive
chosen to focus on leadership. He has a gift; he is truly blessed with amazing
leadership skills. His faith in my own leadership capabilities has helped me grow into
the person I am today. It is that same faith that helps me continue to push myself to
new heights. If I become half the leader that Dr. Veres is, I will consider myself lucky.
Everyone should have such an experience and such a person in their lives.

Profile of a Leader in Higher Education: Assignment One


References
Amey, M., 2013. Leadership: Community college transitions. In J. S. Levin & S. T.
Kanter (Eds.), Understanding community colleges (pp. 135-152). New York, NY:
Routledge.
Eddy, P., 2010. Community college leadership: A multidimensional model for leading
change. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Grand Canyon University. 2015. GCU Lounge Page. Accessed April 6, 2015 at:
http://www.gcu.edu/About-Us/Community-Outreach/K12-Outreach/GCULounge.php
McArdle, M., 2013. The Next Generation of Community College Leaders. Community
College Journal of Research and Practice, 37:11, pages 851-863.
Northouse, P., 2013. Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:
SAGE Publications, Inc.
PR Newswire. 2013. Joseph Veres to Spearhead Grand Canyon University's New K12 Outreach Program. PR Newswire. Accessed April 6, 2015 at:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/joseph-veres-to-spearhead-grandcanyon-universitys-new-k-12-outreach-program-219271301.html