Interim president upbeat, says SC State needs time to heal

Sunday, December 23, 2007

South Carolina State University Interim President Dr. Leonard McIntyre does not believe the university is in chaos following the sudden removal of Andrew Hugine Jr. McIntyre does feel that the university must undergo a healing process and believes he can be the leader who can prepare SC State for its next president.

"Because of where we are in our history, we have to do some coalition building. Naturally, we have to do some healing so we can work together individually and collectively to ensure this university continues to be the great institution that it is," he said.

A self-described participatory leader, McIntyre says he will empower all members of the SC State family during the critical process of transformation.

"I'm concerned about all of our stakeholders. In order for me to be successful, the doors have to remain open for input," he said.

McIntyre said his first priority as interim president is to fill key positions that are currently vacant. Filling the voids are necessary to keep the university running smoothly going forward and to avoid undue stress on other areas of the institution, he said.

University trustees named McIntyre interim president earlier this month after they decided not to renew Hugine's contract. Hugine was placed on administrative leave, with his final day scheduled for Jan. 4.

McIntyre will not seek the presidency on a permanent basis, he said. Previously the dean of the College of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences at SC State, he hopes to return to that post once a new president is selected.

In regard to the current situation on campus, McIntyre thinks a quote from SC State Trustee Col. John Bowden summed up everything well. Bowden said, "I don't know how we got where we are, but we are where we are."

McIntyre agrees, saying the important thing is where SC State goes from here.

He said he will apply a laser-like focus toward the future of SC State. The future of the university lies with its future and current students, said McIntyre, who presided over his first commencement ceremony last Saturday.

"We have to make sure that we fulfill our mission by graduating students. The mission is ongoing; you accomplish it and fulfill over and over again," he said. McIntyre said SC State also has a three-pronged mission aside from graduating its students in teaching, research and service.

The interim president has a passion for reading and cited two books he believes apply to the current state of affairs at SC State.

McIntyre believes A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a book many of the students at S.C. State can relate to. McIntyre calls it a chilling and thrilling tale of perseverance. He says it's chilling because it details the experiences of growing up in the ghetto environment and thrilling because the central character rises above that environment to become successful.

"It communicates exactly what we find in the lives of many of our students," he said. "It's our job to give our students hope to see a future they otherwise might not know because many of them came from those backgrounds."

McIntyre also cites Leadership is an Art by Max DePree. The book outlines two types of leadership McIntyre says he will need to make the transition: transformational and participatory leadership.

McIntyre says the university is in the midst of a transformation. Enabling and encouraging others in the SC State family to be successful is one form of leadership McIntyre's presidency will take, he said.

"Anytime you're involved in an interim situation, it requires transformation," he said.

He cites Mohandas Gandhi as one of his favorite leaders, and he said the notion Gandhi employed of leading from behind is a good concept that he will use in the coming months.

Participatory leadership, McIntyre said, is where a leader inspires and motivates to pursue a course that both followers and leaders find worthy.

Depending on the situation at hand, McIntyre said he can be flexible to shift leadership styles.

McIntyre has already been a leader at SC State, obtaining a $3 million U.S. aid grant to write textbooks for students in the island African nation of Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. With McIntyre's lead, SC State helped conform 10 textbooks to Zanzibar's language and curriculum.

On Jan. 7, McIntyre will travel to Zanzibar to hand the textbooks over to President Amani Karume. McIntyre has also traveled to Ghana with U.S. First Lady Laura Bush as part of the project, and recently SC State received an additional $2 million to expand the project. McIntyre noted that Zanzibar's minister of education is meeting with representatives from eight other African nations and he expects they will be impressed and want textbooks as well.

"It's a great thing for them and SCSU, having the opportunity to make such a huge contribution on an international level," he said.

McIntyre has loved to travel ever since he first went to Mexico during college. From there, his thirst for traveling continued to grow. He has been to China, Spain, India and various Central American counties.

A native of New Orleans, McIntyre went through the public school system before attending Loyola University to major in Spanish education. He received his master's degree in teaching with a specialty in reading at Tulane University and began teaching in the New Orleans public school system.

From there, McIntyre took a job at Southern University in Baton Rouge before getting his doctorate in education administration at Iowa State University. After working for a few years in the Iowa Department of Education, he found his way to South Carolina when he was named associate superintendent in Spartanburg School District 7.

McIntyre got his first taste of being top administrator as superintendent of Hampton School District 2. When Inez Tenenbaum was elected state superintendent of education, he joined her transition team and then came on full time in her administration, serving as deputy state superintendent of education.

When Tenenbaum decided to run for the U.S. Senate, McIntyre looked for another job and found opportunities in San Francisco and in his native Louisiana. However, he decided to stay in South Carolina and took the position of dean of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences at SC State.

"I fell in love with South Carolina," he said.

An avowed outdoorsman, his hobbies include fishing, boating and camping. He once owned a 25-foot boat that could hold eight people but decided to sell it due to his responsibilities at SC State.

"If you own a boat, you throw your wallet in the water," McIntyre said.

While he may have given up his boat, he says he is not giving up on leading SC State through its transition.

"I'm confident I'll be able to do that. Leadership is nothing new to me. A good leader can lead in any situation. I consider myself one of those," McIntyre said.

T&D Staff Writer Lee Tant can be reached by e-mail at ltant@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-534-1060.