Story Behind the Story: Hardwiring Excellence in Education

Recently, Dr. Janet Pilcher participated in a podcast hosted by Dr. Brendan Kelly, University of West Georgia President, called Off the Cuff. Dr. Kelly is featured in the second chapter of Janet’s newly released book “Hardwiring Excellence in Education.” In today’s episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, we share the recording of their conversation. Listen now to discover how Janet applies the Nine Principles in her work and partnerships, the connection that makes her work worthwhile, and how her newly released book can benefit leaders, regardless of their position in an organization.

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Episode Transcript



[Intro music plays in the background.] 

Janet Pilcher: Hello everyone, welcome to today’s Accelerate Your Performance podcast. I’m your host, Janet Pilcher. Thank you for tuning into our show today.  


This podcast is all about leadership. I don’t mean leadership as a position. It’s about how we can all see great leadership in action so that we can all be leaders in our organizations.  


And the focus of leadership connects to our Nine Principles highlighted in my new book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education. In my book, I had an opportunity to highlight Dr. Brendan Kelly from the University of West Georgia. He’s the president there.  


And I highlighted the work that he and his team are doing in Principle Two: Measures That Matter. I’ve had the pleasure of working with President Kelly at the University of West Georgia and in the past. And I have so enjoyed experiencing his great leadership.  


Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to be the guest on Dr. Kelly’s podcast, Off the Cuff. The podcast is about leadership. His is also about leadership, and so I enjoyed our connections and conversations that we had. Dr. Kelly highlighted leaders in various industries to provide stories that others can learn from.  


In our episode today, we share Dr. Kelly’s conversation with me on his Off the Cuff podcast. I hope you enjoy the conversation and that it gives you something to think about as you enter this week. I hope you enjoy it. 




Brendan Kelly: My name is Dr. Brendan Kelly, and I have the privilege of serving as president of the University of West Georgia. And I want to welcome you to our podcast, Off the Cuff. We feature conversations with leaders and high performers from all walks of life. There are so many videos, seminars, and books related to leadership and performance. But perhaps the most insight that we’re able to gain into those subjects comes from getting into the minds of leaders, why they’ve taken certain actions or made certain decisions, how they prepare to win. Conversations with leaders and high performers create tremendous value for me. And I hope that this conversation creates great value for you as well. 


Today I’m hosting a conversation with Dr. Janet Pilcher, founder and senior executive of Studer Education. Dr. Pilcher served a 19-year tenure at the University of West Florida, where she was a professor, Associate Dean and Dean of the College of Professional Studies.  


In 2010, Dr. Pilcher made a dramatic transition out of the academy in higher education and into the private sector. Janet helped to found a company called Studer Education, a spinoff of the Studer Group founded by Quint Studer, which was a company dedicated to helping hospitals and healthcare organizations improve their performance toward patient-centered care.  


Most recently, Janet published a new book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education 


Full disclosure, the University of West Georgia has worked side by side with Studer Education for more than a decade on our own process for continuous improvement.  


Welcome, Janet Pilcher. Couldn’t be more pleased to have you. Our relationship, or at least our paths crossed a long time ago at the University of West Florida, but we did not know each other at the time.  


Janet Pilcher: That’s right.  


Brendan Kelly: You were dean.  


Janet Pilcher: That’s correct.  


Brendan Kelly: How did you become a dean at a university? Tell us a little about where Janet Pilcher came from.  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, so, you know, it started- I started my career. I’m a business major, so I started in business and industry and worked for a Chapter 11 company and had an opportunity for about a year and a half to two years to work for that company with someone who was a great mentor to me that taught me a lot about what it means to turn around the Chapter 11 company.  


And I just- I start with that because it stayed with me for my entire life. Those foundational things that I learned at an early age have stayed with me.  


And then my parents basically said, “you need to get serious about a real job.” 


Brendan Kelly: [laughs] 


Janet Pilcher: And so, I came back into teaching. I always had a desire to teach. So I taught high school math for about three years, and I taught math because I really wanted to coach. I love tennis, and I wanted to be a coach.  


And I say that because the coaching piece of my life and the- and the athletic part of who I am is critical to the leadership piece of the work that I do. So, as I taught for about three years, I went to the University of West Florida at the time and got my Ed Leadership degree thinking I was going to be a principal or go into administration and be a leader.  


Brendan Kelly: Of course. 


Janet Pilcher: And then there was a professor there that said, “you’re really good at this educational research stuff. Why don’t you go to FSU and—Florida State University—and they’ve got a great program. So why don’t you go to Florida State University and see what they have to offer there for a doctoral program?” 


So that’s what I did, and I’ll cut the story down to then how did I get back to- to becoming a dean. So when I was finishing my doctoral degree, the same professor connected back with me and said “I had- I had some reason why I wanted you to do that because I knew we would be starting our first doctoral program at the University of West Florida. and I’m going to recruit you back.” 


Brendan Kelly: [laughs] So one of the great compliments you can receive in your life.  


Janet Pilcher: That’s right. So that’s how I started. I came to the University of West Florida. That was interesting because starting something, if you go back to what I was talking about in Chapter 11 company, starting up something, really putting in an entrepreneurial frame of mind and being at the front end of something was really appealing to me.  


So, I came to UWF to help the University start the first doctoral program, which within my first two years of being a professor, Assistant Professor, I moved pretty quickly into a leadership position because I was basically leading that effort when I was hired.  


And the Associate Dean stepped down at the time that I was doing that, and then the Dean of the college asked if I would shift into an Assistant Dean position, and so I just, you know, once you probably know this too, Dr. Kelly, once you move into a leadership position you’re never- you’re in there for the rest of your life, right, and in a good way— 


Brendan Kelly: Yeah. 


Janet Pilcher: And so, you know one thing just led to another, and I-I just had, as I was moving forward and really being, I was highly committed to the college. We had an opportunity to, I was part of College of Education, but we were moving out of a College of Education into a College of Professional Studies.  


So, I had an opportunity to see if the faculty wanted me to be the dean, so they were, the provost did kind of an internal messaging and search to determine if that was going to occur, and the answer was “yes” to that, so I had then had an opportunity to start a new college.  


So, you can kind of see the path— 


Brendan Kelly: Yeah. 


Janet Pilcher: —of how that led, and I just loved being a dean. It was one of the highlights of my life just being able to- to lead a new college and bring people together who weren’t normally together and build a unified group of people who wanted to do the right things for students.  


That was a highlight of my leadership life.  


Brendan Kelly: And that’s a challenge at a university at any time because, I mean, you and I’ve talked about it many times; universities are places that don’t necessarily run toward change. I think that is changing, too, but that’s got to be a challenging leadership quandary for you because it’s a brand-new college.  


There’s a lot of disarray, and you have to put it all in order, and not everybody loves that.  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, no and you know, maybe I wsa- maybe I just didn’t even know what I didn’t know at the time as well, but in the challenge, it was truly a challenge, and this is what I didn’t know, because I was somewhat naive and youthful at the time that I had that opportunity, and when we consolidated the chairs that came in- the- of the of the departments, they were very senior in nature, and so what I realized pretty quickly is that I had- I didn’t have- I had all senior chairs full professor, been at the university for a long time, very well-known and respected, and so that- I was really leading that group.  


Brendan Kelly: Experiences like that just feed positive outcomes later on. You were a dean at a university but there are two things that I find fascinating about that. One, University of West Florida is in Pensacola. You are from Pensacola. 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: Having a person who works at a university that’s actually from the place [laughs] where the university is located is pretty rare. A lot of people don’t know that, but— 


Janet Pilcher: Yeah. 


Brendan Kelly:  —when you go to a university, so many people who work there especially in the faculty, are from all over the United States and often all over the world.  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, yeah. It’s- you know- it’s- so sometimes I’ve questioned- I- I had- I love Pensacola, I love- I love my hometown, I love living in that area, just I love the region, and I love- I love the city.  


The other thing that’s personal to me is I- my mom and dad are there, and I’m their only child, so I have high commitment to them. I love them and want to be with them, and I’ve had the opportunity to- to stay in the community and- and you know, in certain ways I’ve always said to myself, you know “should I not do this? Is this going to be- is this going to hinder me from doing some of the things that I’ve been able to do.  


I think, in the last decade, a little more than a decade I’m- after I shifted it out of higher education or out of the university,” and the answer for me fortunately has been “no” because I’ve been able to go to where the work is, you know, I haven’t just stayed and done work in a home in that community, but I’m now going to where work is, but it’s- I didn’t plan it that way, Brendan, I didn’t plan it that way.  


I just- it just kind of unfolded in a way that seemed right and that I could continue to give back. I- probably my biggest, right now, with the work that I do now- what I- what I’m not able to do is to give back to the community in a way that I want to that at some time I’ll be able to really— 


Brendan Kelly: Of course. 


Janet Pilcher: —be a great service to- to Pensacola and the surrounding community. It’s my home.  


Brendan Kelly: And that’s because you’re on the road all the time. 


Janet Pilcher: It is. 


Brendan Kelly: So that’s the second big unique thing about you, at least professionally, you were a dean at a university, and you left a tenured role. You left higher education, at least inside of a university structure, to go and work at a- what was then a startup— 


Janet Pilcher: Yes. 


Brendan Kelly: [laughs] —in Studer Education and- and the Studer Group was founded by Quint Studer who has mentored both of us and is a friend and a really remarkable person. Talk about that shift.  


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: One, how do you make that decision— 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm.  


Brendan Kelly: —because it’s a risky one— 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: —and- and two, you took a startup and have made it into a really successful venture.  


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: Can you walk us through that a little bit?  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, I, so when I was at the university- I go back to you know, my experience of choosing to go into a Chapter 11 company and from- from day one as- as a dean and as a faculty member, I was always doing grants and contracts and research. That was really a key part of the work that I did.  


Received almost 20 million dollars of grants and contracts in my tenure at the university, and the purpose of that was to innovate and experiment and to have those research dollars to be able to do that.  


I had an opportunity to build a foundation of what that world felt like within the institution before I made the decision to- to- to take the leap, and as I worked with Quint Studer and as I, uh, you know, I had an opportunity to attend his “Take You and Your Organization” conferences and to “Take You and Your Organization to the Next Level” conferences, and that’s where the Nine Principles were introduced to me, which is the foundation of our work, and it just resonated with me so much that I just wanted- I just kept going to those and going to those and really internalizing what it meant to be a good leader because I thought “well I’ve been a pretty good leader,” but then I realized not- not as much as, you know, I could- I could really improve, and leadership was really key.  


So, when I- when I had the opportunity to make that shift to go with Quint and do the startup of Studer Education, he had done the work in healthcare; we were trying to figure out how to transfer that to education,  I knew I just had to make that decision, and I didn’t think about it very much, and I basically, you know, just to be honest with you, within a 48 hour period, I thought about it and said- I took a letter of resignation and took it in and said, “I’m resigning from the university.”  


And I- Quint within a month’s time hired me to come and start, and I went to Quint, and so I was so excited, you know, I was so excited about being able to do this.  


So, I go into his office, and I said “Quint, what do you want me to do? Like what do you want- where do you want me to start?” And he took a sheet of paper out and he wrote a note on the sheet of paper, and he says “Janet Pilcher gets to do what Janet Pilcher thinks is best. Here you go.” [laughs]  


And that was it and, uh, I had an opportunity- I had an opportunity to- to go on site with him from time to time, but for the most part he said, you know, “it’s yours, you figure it out.” 


Brendan Kelly: And when you went on site with him, I mean Quint was deep into healthcare consulting, and what is remarkable from my perspective is almost every hospital president that I’ve talked to over the last 10 years, every single one of them knows him— 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: —and if they’re successful, they adapted the system that he created, and he was a very successful hospital president multiple times before he did consulting full-time. It- it’s fascinating that you were able to adapt that system to education— 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly:  —so quickly, and now Studer Education focuses in on K through 12 continuous improvement and has had a lot of success in that segment, and certainly we get to work together because the University of West Georgia, and well before I became president, Studer Education was well engaged with UWG to lead our continuous improvement. 


So, you- you are leading a company you have to be responsible for the bottom line, but I think it’s so unique that you also work with leaders— 


Janet Pilcher: Yes. 


Brendan Kelly: —like myself and my executive team and- and a hundred leaders across our institution to help us be better. So, I’m gonna ask, before I ask about you as a leader, I kind of want to hear what’s- what’s it like having to make your business making other people better— 


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: —from a challenge and opportunity perspective? 


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, you know,  it’s- as I think about- as I- as I think about the work that- that I- the business is working in partnership with other leaders to help them move their organizations to excellence and to sustain that excellence, and I think what I realized early on, you know, I don’t know- I don’t know the answers to that. I know we have a framework to draw from that- that I learned with Quint and then figured out how to apply it in ways that made sense in my own leadership as well as with others. But the- the critical part in that is the word “partnership.” 


Brendan Kelly: Mmmhmm. 


Janet Pilcher: I, you know, sometimes in a consulting business, you know, we’ll say, you know, “they’re clients” or, and I tend to just say “partnerships” because the way that we work together is by- is by me understanding who I’m working with as a leader— 


Brendan Kelly: Mmmhmm. 


Janet Pilcher: —looking at what they bring to the table, what specifically the talents are of that individual leader. So, I get a chance to work with- with presidents, for the most part and executive teams.  


Brendan Kelly: I’m sorry about that. [laughs] 


Janet Pilcher: [laughs] Yeah, it’s a wonderful- I love doing the field work. And I wouldn’t be- I wouldn’t be the leader that I am and try to be or be able to lead our company in a way that I- that I hope, you know, can lead us to continue to lead us to success without being in the field.  


It’s everything to me in terms of- it’s kind of like the, you know, just when you’re- when you’re in a higher education institution, the connection that you have with students is everything to understand what- why you’re doing what you’re doing.  


Brendan Kelly: That’s right.  


Janet Pilcher: The connection that we have, you know, it’s a learning laboratory almost of- of, you know, our students as leaders who are trying to be the best that we can- they can. And we have an opportunity to work with some of the best leaders across the country because they’re the ones who want to do the work because it’s hard work.  


Brendan Kelly: Yeah.  


Janet Pilcher: So at that partnership and being able to engage in conversations and ask questions and understand deeply what is important to leaders in that institution to drive that institution to excellence for the purpose of helping students is just, you know, it’s- it’s the skill that I’ve had to learn how to do to facilitate those conversations, but it’s also connected to a great passion of what I love to do. And it’s that connection, you know, that makes this work extremely worthwhile.  


Brendan Kelly: I love that. You say that you work with leaders all over the country. They’re coming to you; obviously they’re interested in improvement. How do you navigate working with a leader or leadership team or an organization that is unwilling to allow the change to come to them? They don’t take your advice. [laughs] They move in a different direction. It’s not a conversation, right?  


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: That’s going to be, that is your business. And I say that because you’re battling two things. You are selling those services, and if people are buying those services but unwilling to accept them. [laughs] Does that make sense?  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah.  


Brendan Kelly: How do you navigate that?  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah.  


Brendan Kelly: And make them better and fulfill your promise of making them better at the same time?  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah, when they- so I think the first thing is, I know this sounds kind of corny here, but it’s just really figuring out how to build that trusting relationship with someone. And so, the services are one thing. But there’s no way we’re going to- I’m ever going to be able to move anyone anywhere unless I’ve learned how to- unless I’m building that relationship. And it’s a genuine- it’s building that genuine relationship with someone.  


So, what I like to do is get to the point to where, instead of me prescribing what something- someone should do or an organization to do because that usually doesn’t work, is I get to the point to where I’m asking enough probing questions and understanding and internalizing to provide some type of guidance, but to the point that a leader is asking me, “what do you think?” or “what guidance would you give?” or “does that make sense?” And then being able to engage in a conversation.  


So, it’s, rather than being prescriptive upfront, it’s trying to pull out- pull them into a place where they’re reflective enough to say, “okay,” and when we look at something that didn’t work, “that’s not working. And we’re only asking “why is that not working? What if we were to do it this way, what do you think would happen? What if you turned it this way, what would happen?” 


And so, we’re just, it’s that- that’s the- how do you, you know, I’ve been- there are a couple of people, people who will tell me, you know, “gosh, you’re just a great facilitator, right? That- you’re just a great—” and so sometimes I think that’s part of, I don’t know if I’m such a great facilitator, except what I’ve learned over the years.  


I’ve not always been this way, but what I’ve learned over the years in being a good leader, trying to be a good leader, is that my ability to stop, listen- listen for understanding, you know, I’ve got to pay ridiculous attention, probe for understanding, really try to get out of someone what they’re trying to communicate and to process and manage to that.  


Regardless of the situation, regardless of what you’re doing, if I can stay focused on that part of the work, whether it’s leading my own team or leading with others, then we’re usually going to get to a place where we can move, change, where we can change. And- and- and some people will say, “well, you know, make it their idea.” It’s- it doesn’t- it doesn’t even matter at the time, because we’re past, we’re past even having that discussion, that we’re just having good discussions, not always agreeing, but shifting and moving and, you know, positioning things in ways that help us get to an outcome that’s most significant.  


And then we try something. And if it- if it doesn’t work, then we figure out how to manage and adjust to that.  


Brendan Kelly: And you keep using the term “we”, even though you are the consultant side of that organization.  


Janet Pilcher: Mmmhmm. 


Brendan Kelly: That’s a- I’ll tell you, that’s the power of us working with Studer over the years has really been drawn from that very genuine relationship and ability to be honest and accept lots of data.  


And I’ll tell you, you said one of the most powerful things, and I repeat it all of the time to- to everybody who I have the privilege of leading at UWG, and that’s “accept the problem, accept the data, accept the solution.” Or you say “accept the data, accept the problem, accept the solution”. Because we constantly will say, “well, data, that data must be wrong.”  


We only want it to be wrong because it’s a reflection of where we’re actually at instead of where we want to be. You’ve been wonderful in leading organizations, including ours, into an invitation to that conversation.  


Janet Pilcher: Yeah. But thank you for that. And it’s- it’s- it’s the- that’s the fun part of the work.  


Brendan Kelly: Yeah.  


Janet Pilcher: You know, and that’s, I think that’s the other part too, if we can look at data from this standpoint, it is what it is. It’s- it’s something in front of us that we can look at and ask- be curious, right?  


Brendan Kelly: That’s right. 


Janet Pilcher: Just to be curious about “what is this telling us?” and ask those questions to people and teams. And what do you think it’s telling us? Well, how do you know? What evidence you have that, that’s the case? And then, you know, how do we- how do we come to some type of assertions or conclusions about the data that seem to be right for us and where we are right now? And then how do we action off of that? You know, what do we do? What do we do to change our behavior or put something in place that’s going to help us move forward? And then how do we continue to assess how well we’re doing with that and make those adjustments?  


Brendan Kelly: Yeah.  


Janet Pilcher: That’s just the- that’s the fun part. That’s the- it’s the challenging and fun part of the process. And that’s the- I don’t, you know, I’m not a- I’m not a fan of just kind of saying “change management,” right?  


Brendan Kelly: Right.  


Janet Pilcher: I mean, there’s a great body of literature out there, and I support and respect it. But what I- in terms of a mindset, I’m like, every day is change.  


Brendan Kelly: Every day is changing. 


Janet Pilcher: We’re always changing. 


Brendan Kelly: That’s right.  


Janet Pilcher: We’re just managing through changes that are occurring on a daily basis. And if we’re using good information to help generate good conversations with people and then begin to make assertions about what we think that means and act on it and begin to build that improvement process with conversation, then we’re just creating those habits of practice within our organizations that become very natural for us in the way that we live together, work together.  


Brendan Kelly: That’s right. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s a- every day is change. If we can embrace that notion, we can lead anything. [laughs] You’ve done a great job of inviting teams into that conversation as well. Allow the data to tell us what the reality is. And then let’s just work on getting better. 


You just published a book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education, which is fantastic. Especially like the portion that features the University of West Georgia. But I- I say that I’ve not quite finished the book because I just got it a few days ago.  


It takes the original book that Quint Studer wrote, Hardwiring Excellence, and applies it to the unique context of education, I think brilliantly, and returns us to a focus on the Nine Principles that were set out. And you mentioned them earlier- which was- I think that’s such an important core component for us.  


That system doesn’t function the same way the way you lay it out in the book, which has been a wonderful re-grounding for me as a president of a public university. But that system doesn’t work the same way when you apply it to different organizations.  


Where’s your judgment call about kind of what to focus in on at any particular institution? What to focus a leader on knowing that you could just walk in and say, “here are the Nine Principles, here are the steps we follow,” and you’d get varying results. But you don’t do that.  


It’s a very unique quality about you as a leader, you as a consultant. That’s a choice, because you always risk an account, right, you risk a relationship, but you customize so much, but never get away from those base principles.  


Janet Pilcher: That’s right. That’s- the way that the principles are applied will depend on where- where a leader, where leaders are, and where the institution is. Again, it’s really listening to what’s most significant there.  


One of the things I had to do in the book that I really forced myself to do is to make a commitment of where certain tools and tactics were placed within those principles. Because sometimes we- so that we hadn’t really done that before. So just kind of as a side note there, because we would say, “well, this- this tactic can go across these three principles.” And so, that is the hardest part. The writing of it was fun to do, but really beginning to make some commitments on “where does this tool or tactic or approach really line up the best? Then how does that seamlessly connect the dots throughout the Nine Principles? And why are the principles sequenced in that particular way?” I had to answer all those questions.  


Brendan Kelly: Fascinating. 


Janet Pilcher: So, kinda- I had never done that. I was like, “well, I probably should have done that a long time ago.” [laughs] 


Brendan Kelly: [laughs] 


Janet Pilcher: That might have been really helpful.  


Brendan Kelly: [laughing] These are the lessons that writing teaches.  


Janet Pilcher: It was like “shoot, that would have been a lot better if I would have started there.” But by doing that- and they’re just foundational. They’re not all the tools and tactics, but they’re just key examples of types of tools and tactics that really help us apply and live out those Nine Principles.  


And the tactics and the principles are timeless in nature. Thirty years ago, they were important. Thirty years from now they’ll be important. Technology doesn’t really drive their relevance. It’s just what we need to be good leaders. There’s timeless research and connections of more material and more tools and tactics that can be embed- that could be connected to those principles.  


So, all I’ll say is, that book isn’t about, here are all the answers. Here’s a framework of some ways that we’ve implemented some tools and tactics aligned to that framework and some examples of stories and results from people who have implemented those that tell a story of what that work is like and what the outcomes are.  


Now, it might not look that way- exactly that way for you, but if we can talk about what that is, then what does it look like for you when we apply that? That’s the way I leverage that framework more than say “you have to do X, Y, and Z.” It’s a prescription. It just doesn’t work that way.  


Brendan Kelly: Well let me- Let me ask you one last question. You work with leaders all over the United States. You work with a lot of high-performing people, high-level leaders, all kinds of organizations, and in changing environments because education has changed so dramatically. Especially right now, higher education is just in the midst of massive overturning of power, relationships, and circumstances. All in service to students. All of those things I think will end up being very beneficial to the students we’re in service to. But working with all those leaders, are leaders made or born?  


Janet Pilcher: I think there are ways that we can develop individual skills to develop leaders. And we should be highly committed to that. Let me start with that. I also start in the book that everyone’s a leader, so anyone working is a leader.  


So, I don’t think a person in position is the person who has to develop the leadership skills. We- our work in this day and time require us to have good leadership skills regardless of the position that we’re in. So there’s some skill-based aspects of leadership that are extremely important.  


The other part to it is to what extent, though, are we willing to position ourselves as a human being—  


Brendan Kelly: Mmm. 


Janet Pilcher: —in this world to lead with the understanding that we truly want to have impact and make a difference? 


Brendan Kelly: Yeah. 


Janet Pilcher: And I don’t think you teach that. You have to give people an opportunity to experience that so that they want to- want to assume that role and responsibility. But the people that we work with, fortunately, I am very fortunate to work with some great leaders. They have that un- that relentless focus to help people to get better and better and better and to help organizations achieve success. And for us, it’s doing our very best for students. We all should have that as part of our DNA.  


But the extent to which people live that each and every day with great passion and purpose has to be an individual decision. Leadership is key to us being able to move higher education forward in a way it needs to be. I will end my career focused on leadership.  


I’ve been in leadership for a long time. I’ve learned from the good things and the bad things that I’ve done. I’ve learned more from when I’ve made mistakes along the way, and I’ve made many. But as I think about where I end my career, I will end with knowing that there’s nothing more important in most any of our professions right now than learning how to be a great leader and being highly committed and dedicated to what that means for the way we move things forward in a positive direction. That’s my commitment.  


Brendan Kelly: You are fantastic, Janet. I’m grateful for your leadership and your support. I will tell you my own life and career have been made better because of you and certainly because of all of the assistance, support, and continuous improvement that you’ve provided the scaffolding for.  


Janet Pilcher: Well, thank you for that. It’s what’s so nice about this work is, and I say this, Brendan, you know, it’s work, and we work together in that professional setting, but, you know, you’re my friend, right? And we’ll be lifelong friends. I don’t know how we couldn’t be lifelong friends.  


Brendan Kelly: [laughs] 


Janet Pilcher: And that’s- that’s what it’s all about. It’s really building those connections where we’re trying to do good things together but just really connecting to good people, and I’m deeply appreciative to you.  


[Outro music plays in the background.]  


Brendan Kelly: Thank you. I am to you. Appreciate you taking your time this afternoon.  


Janet Pilcher: Thank you.

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