The University of Alabama

Q&A with Dr. Guy Bailey

Q. As an alumnus, what has been the most significant thing about coming home?

A. I’ve realized that my alma mater prepared me not only for the career I dreamed of having, but for careers I couldn’t have imagined. When I was here as a student, I wanted to be a college professor, but I never thought of being a university president. UA prepared me for more than I dreamed possible.

Q. What were your first thoughts when you were offered the presidency?

A. It was hard to grasp that it was real. Not until I was in the mansion and in my office unpacking and walking the halls did it really sink in.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

A. Collaborative and consultative. I listen a lot, to students as well as to faculty and staff. Based on what I see and hear, I try to make innovative plans and communicate those plans in a straightforward manner. People need to understand why you developed the plans you developed and what the plan will accomplish if you want them to be excited about working with you.

Q. What leader inspires you?

A. Dwight Eisenhower. He wasn’t flashy. He managed to do so much, but without putting the spotlight on himself. He not only led us in peace and prosperity, he knew how to bring strong personalities together and get them to work together. Think of it – Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, the generals he had to deal with – and he managed to work with them. And, when a tough decision had to be made, he made it and took responsibility for it.

Q. What did UA give to you as a student that you want current students to receive?

A. Our students should have the highest quality education at the best possible value. Their degree and education should equip them not just for a job, but for any career the future might hold for them. UA gave me the ability to write well and think critically. This is what the core curriculum provides and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated today.

Q. What is the focus of your first 100 days as president?

A. I want to invest time in making sure we have the right structure in place to serve future goals. UA’s student body is the envy of our peers. We want to preserve that while also having a faculty that is the envy of our peers. We will increase faculty size and increase our research focus. New faculty will bring in new research, and allow current faculty more time to pursue research. And we will continue to pursue excellence in athletics. It is hard to overestimate the role of athletics in our current success.

Q. How will you get to know students, faculty and staff?

A. I have some scheduled presentations but will also walk around campus. I want students to feel they can approach me and say hello. On game day I walk around the Quad. There was no tailgating as such when I was a student, so it’s been fun to see families tailgating, having fun. I just really enjoy meeting the people who make up the University.

Q. Many people will want to share their thoughts and ideas with you. What is the best way for them to communicate with you?

A. I read a lot of email, so that is probably the best way. I hope people will talk to me when I am out and about on campus. I am happy to talk with anyone. My door is open.

Q. You are known for strengthening the role of research at universities. What are your goals for research at UA?

A. Plans are in the works, and will include more partnerships with federal and state entities, more endowed professorships and chairs, and expanding faculty. We also want to ensure we are counting all our research expenditures properly to give ourselves full credit for what we are already doing.

Q. Will enrollment continue to grow?

A. We will grow but we will make sure the faculty-to-student ratio is such that we can provide an outstanding education for our students.

Q. What do you like best about living in the president’s mansion?

A. It puts my wife and me symbolically and literally at the heart of campus. There’s a loss of some privacy in that, but it’s worth it. I get up early to walk Max, our dog, and I can see and hear the campus wake up and come alive each day. It’s invigorating.

Q. How can faculty and staff help you as you assume your new role?

A. Be the best you can be at what you do. When you flourish in your field it contributes to the success of the whole University. And all of us need to remember that we are working together for a common goal. I compare it to baseball (my favorite sport). Each player has to be the best individually, but also look for ways to help the rest of the team. Our students are adults, but they are young adults. We all need to look for ways to give them the help and guidance to be successful. Their success is the best measure of our success.