What makes a great Educator | Interview with Dr. William A. Reed
It is no news that LIGS University has a new President. To give you a better understanding of who William A. Reed is as a person we decided to interview him. What were his answers to our tricky questions? See for yourself!
Welcome you to our LIGS community, Bill! Can you start by saying a few words about yourself? What do you like to do in your free time? What makes you get up in the morning?
Thank you, Radka. Thanks to everyone for the very warm welcome I received upon my arrival at the office and at the graduation. Everyone made me feel very welcome. My background is very diverse. Starting as a corporate pilot flying clients in corporate jets to executive level positions in sales and academic settings. I have many years of experience in client-focused positions. My business background, coupled with my academic experiences allows me to be a fine fit for my new role here at LIGS.
In my free time, I enjoy travel, beaches by the ocean, fishing, and enjoying time with my grandchildren and family. I make sure I make time for our grandkids- they are a lot of fun to watch growing up.
What do you see as the biggest challenge of being now appointed as the President of LIGS University?
As I move into this important position and learn the operation of LIGS; I see the most challenging elements as delivering a quality learning experience to each of our learners who have placed their trust in us to help them grow both intellectually and personally. We must deliver on our vision and mission statements and take their commitments seriously to honor the learners that come to our University.
Would you say you have any hidden talents most people don't know about you? If so, can you share it with our community?
I am not too sure if it is a hidden talent, as I think I am a fairly easy person to understand; but one item that may come through more slowly is my desire to have empathy for everyone’s situation. We are all human and have our own life experiences. These experiences may weigh heavier on us one day over another day. I try to understand the balance of these situations as I too have experiences in my own life that I need to be mindful of in my interactions with others.
What is one thing you cannot wake up without in the morning?
When I wake up in the morning, I need a challenge. This is important to me. At one point, I thought I’d try to be more “at ease” and take things more slowly. Well, this was a failed experiment. After two days, I was back looking for things to do, challenges to take, and goals to reach. Even if it were as simple as catching a fish that day. I knew the slower path was not for me and I then immediately re-engaged in the activities that I enjoyed: teaching, consulting, mentoring, and similar activities.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? How does it differ from what you do?
This is a tough question. At one point, I thought of a lawyer, then a pilot. After a few years, I realized that I had varied interests. It was about then, that I decided that whatever opportunities came along, I would simply try to do the best I could at those that were of interest to me. While this path provided for varying levels of income through the years, it was exciting and otherwise rewarding. The experience gained through these different paths has provided me with a background with significant, and a variety, of depth and knowledge.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
Again, this is a tough question as I try to distinguish between personal and professional life. Personally, the answer is very easy to identify: my wife, family, and my great-grandchildren (all 12 of them). On the professional side, receiving the trust and confidence of the LIGS leadership team to lead the effort to continue our growth into the next level of performance for our learners. Other accomplishments that are memorable to me are being certified to fly jet aircraft, having academic degrees, and meeting so many great people along my business journey. All of these accomplishments are important to me and a part of my growth.
What were your biggest struggles while being a student at University? What helped you to overcome it? Do you have any recommendations?
If I were to pick one struggle; I’d say it was the ability to just start. To start and take the first step was always a challenge in the beginning. After the first step, the rest would just flow along until I reached the finish. Then, the next step to start again would present itself. After beating the “first step challenge” several times; it became easier to complete. It would eventually become a more natural progression for me, but initially, it was a definite challenge.
My recommendation would be: Just go for “it” and try it. Whatever “it” is. The anticipatory fear is never as bad as one may envision the real fear.
What is going to be your main focus for LIGS University's future?
LIGS University is in a world of academic transition. Focusing on how we learn; what we learn; what employers need us to learn; are all challenges that we must learn and deliver on. This is not an impossible challenge. It is one we must be very mindful of and incorporate into our overall delivery and operations model. Further, working towards an academic degree has a dual learning path: we learn the material that we are studying, and we learn about ourselves. Expanding and moving beyond our boundaries is key to our student’s growth; both intellectually and personally. This is so vital to a learning experience.
What was the main drive to start working in education? Did you always want to be a Head of such an Institution as LIGS University?
Well, I was one of those students, when I was young, who started college after high school/preparatory school and stopped attending after a year. It took me 9 years before I restarted and complete my bachelor's degree. As I said earlier, once started, I finished my bachelor's degree, went right into a master's degree, and upon completion- signed up for my doctorate without any break in between. See my point about just starting? When I restarted working on my bachelor's degree, I needed to finish what I had started years earlier. It was not easy: house payments, young children, running a business, health. I think this is why I can relate to so many of our students who are in similar situations today. I know the hurdles faced by adult students.
What do you think is the most significant characteristic every educator should possess?
It is my opinion that to be an excellent educator, one needs to have the ability to understand the student in some very unique ways. Understand the learning style, and how that student learns, and adjust the professor's delivery style to that learner's style. Some students are visual learners; others are hands-on, yet others may be excellent readers. Whatever the student’s skills are, adjusting the delivery style can greatly enable that learner to excel. Additionally, understanding the student’s needs and goals can be extremely helpful. This allows the professor to deliver the materials in a real-life meaningful manner to the student. There are some technologies, in the Artificial Intelligence area, that are addressing these issues as well.
What do you think is the future of higher education?
Higher education will be as important tomorrow as it is today. Why the material and methods will change; the requirements to hold and demonstrate higher knowledge of a given topic will always be required. Further, the leadership of the future will also need to make adjustments in how to lead in various settings: virtual, digital, and global environments will all gain importance, as we already have witnessed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Do you have any specific plans for the future of LIGS University? If so, can you give us a hint?
Looking at the future is one of my primary responsibilities as the newly appointed President and, yes, we have begun conversations about the future. Our vision designs are in the early stages of concept development. I can share with you that our plans are expansive in focus and global in scope. These plans will include reaching out to everyone desiring to learn and improve themselves, regardless of geographic location or financial capabilities. Our conceptual talks include offering a variety of programs designed to appeal to a wide range of interests. By incorporating understandable and friendly technology, with timely and important study areas, I see LIGS excelling in the delivery of important life-changing learning.
Where do you see LIGS University in a year or two?
I would estimate that the plans we are formulating today will be well underway within a year. I further see the LIGS programs and services entering a phase of stronger international acceptance by our peers and colleagues around the world.
Yet, as we grow our global footprint, our delivery to every student will be as personal, and meaningful, as sitting across the table from each other. This scenario sounds difficult to achieve and it is; however, it is happening in other industries and we will make this a reality in the LIGS academic world. Appropriate use of human-based technology, matched with exceptional professors will create an excellent platform and “home” for students learning.
We hope this gave you our students and our community a little peek into Bill's way of thinking of things. It has been a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for your time, Bill.