Dr. Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. began his tenure as the eleventh Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in September 2015. He is the first African American chancellor to lead a non-HBCU in the UNC System.

Chancellor Gilliam brings to UNCG a wealth of experience from a career that spans more than 30 years in higher education. During that time, he was Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs as well as a longtime Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at UCLA, where his research focused on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics.

At UNCG, Dr. Gilliam has not only led the campus to record growth, but has also helped build a solid foundation for a very bright future at the university — from working with legislators to secure funding for a $105M STEM building; to establishing a Millennial Campus designation, which will create the conditions that will drive growth in areas like health and wellness and the creative and performing arts; to increasing diversity among faculty and administration; and to working with leaders on this campus and beyond on innovative student success initiatives which have been lauded by national foundations and press.

Daniel (00:02): So there you are on a commute just like any other day, and you find yourself in your school's parking lot. As you turn the car off and take the keys out of the ignition, or if you have a modern car, as I've learned now you don't have keys in the ignition anymore it's just a button you push. But you have this rock in your gut and you have this thought, this feeling that's just bugging you and you can't get it out of your head. The idea is that if I'm honest, these kids, our students, don't even have a chance. If you knew that was the current reality, but you had it within you because you're a Ruckus Maker. You're an out of the box thinker making change happen in education. You knew you could turn it around. Where would you start? In today's conversation with Chancellor Gilliam of University of North Carolina, Greensboro. They partnered with the school, the Moss street partnership and they turned it around. We're going to hear their story of what a school turnaround looked like. I highly encourage you to listen to the end because in the second half of the show, we dig into this idea of authentic leadership. Personally, for me, it was incredibly rewarding to hear the chancellor's view on this topic. Hey, it's Daniel and welcome to the better leaders, better schools podcast. We'll be right back after these messages from our show's sponsors

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Daniel (02:54): Well, hey there Ruckus Maker, we are joined today by Chief Ruckus Maker, Chancellor Ruckus Maker. I can't wait to introduce him and dive into the conversation. Dr. Franklin D Gilliam Jr. ,began His tenure as the 11th chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, UNCG in September, 2015. He is the first African-American chancellor to lead a non HBCU in the UNC system. Chancellor Gilliam brings to the UNCG a wealth of experience from a career that spans more than 30 years in higher education. During that time, he was Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, as well as a long time professor of public policy and political science at UCLA. Where his research focused on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics at UNCG. Dr. Gilliam has not only led the campus to record growth, but has also helped build a solid foundation for a very bright future at the university, from working with legislators to secure funding for 105 million STEM building to establishing a millennial campus designation, which will create the conditions that will drive growth in areas like health and wellness and the creative and performing arts to increasing diversity among faculty and administration, and to working with leaders on this campus and beyond on innovative student success initiatives, which have been lauded by national foundations and press. Welcome to the show Chancellor Gilliam.

Chancellor Gilliam (04:41): Thanks for having me, Daniel.

Daniel (04:42): It is a pleasure. It is my pleasure. You've got great stories, a wealth of wisdom. We're going to jump right in. When we talked last you told me this story of visiting a school and there you were in the parking lot with a colleague and you turned to your colleague and you said, "These kids, they don't have a chance." Bring us to that moment and what caused you to say that.

Chancellor Gilliam (05:10): A few years back, I think now it's been three years, the North Carolina legislature mandated that of the 17 campuses. Those which had teacher preparation programs should embark on a mission of what are commonly referred to as lab schools. The idea was that student's performance was lacking because teacher prep was lacking and that you could kill two birds with one stone by having teachers practice in these labs and trying new and innovative curriculum and at the same time benefit the kids. It just so happens. We have a teacher prep program, actually a quite good one. We were mandated to open such a school. We had the daunting task of taking over a school in a County north of us, that was a historically segregated title one elementary school. I went there to visit before we actually became engaged and was utterly depressed at what I saw.

Chancellor Gilliam (06:17): It was drab. It was gray, it was lifeless other than behavior problems. The cafeteria was a place I certainly wouldn't want my children to eat. As I was walking out of the building in the parking lot, I turned to one of my staff members and I said, "these kids just don't have a chance in hell." By that I meant their life chances were so daunting and it was so disheartening because it didn't have to be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. It's all about the society's will. The public's will to invest in the education of a chosen people and understand that long term sustainability of the society is going to rest on how we educate and take care of the next generations. So, that was the good news, the Coda, if you will, is that we have been engaged now for a couple of years, we would recognize a place is vibrant and colorful. The kids are well-behaved the cafeteria looks like a place you would eat. We're slowly making progress on the hardest thing to move with these kids' test scores and various measures where it's cognitive emotional and social development on the whole child, so to speak. We've developed a curriculum to focus on such. It's tough, it's a heavy lift. These kids opt into the school and these are children who don't have typical. Many of them don't have stable family lives or home lives and they are sometimes shuttled between households and add the grandmother and one of the parents, the other parent. We're finding now with remote learning this fall term at the lab school street, that has been a tremendous challenge because the kids just aren't sitting in the spare bedroom. Nice to think of middle-class kids that we're in a nice quiet guest apartment nice and quiet and being able to study. They're studying amidst, all kinds of stuff going on. It's been a challenge, but it's also been rewarding.

Daniel (08:28): Yeah. And potentially sharing the same device and all that kind of stuff. It always boggles my mind when you walk into a school and like you said, it's drab, it's lifeless. It's not a place, like you said, that you'd want to send your children or a cafeteria where you'd want them to eat. I don't understand how that can exist when that's like the litmus test, right. Would you put your family in that school? Luckily, like you said, there's a coda. There's a turnaround story with this Moss Street Partnership. I'd love to hear about some of the results that you've seen as you've been working with them.

Chancellor Gilliam (09:02): Well, certainly the culture of the school and the community, parents are more engaged. Students are more engaged. I've been there several times when they're doing experiments and these are young kids. These are first and second graders. It's a K-6 school. They're doing experiments, they're in dance and music classes. They're doing a lot of STEM work. We have faculty who are working up there or developing STEM curriculum for elementary school students as part of their research project. They're trying innovative ways to encourage the students to become involved with the STEM subjects. We have counselors and mental health counselors on site. Again, some are probably a little bit more robust than similar least situated schools across the country. But the fact of the matter is this is exactly what you need. This is what all schools need. They need to simulate what good schools have, which is parent involvement, high quality teachers, innovative and energetic curriculum, dedicated teachers, and typically a strong principal.

Daniel (10:11): People like Ms Chestnut. Who you heard from the students, I think that said, Ms. Chestnut, "she doesn't play."

Chancellor Gilliam (10:17): They don't play it. That's what they said. I asked them when I went back to the school and the kids were all orderly. I talked to my little boys and I said, "Hey man you guys are really well-behaved. Last year I came here, you all were acting out. He said, "Hey, Ms. Chesson, don't play." They instilled discipline in the kids and you can have discipline and also have creativity coexist. When we went to the art and music classes, kids were dancing and singing and drawing, and it was tremendous. It's a heavy lift though, believe me, Daniel. Particularly when you're talking on standardized test scores, so somebody can say, well, the proof will be in the pudding. Are their test scores going to improve and you're asking me this D university to undo probably ,not only years of neglect and outright discrimination, but really decades of it, right.

Chancellor Gilliam (11:20): They expected a year or two years that the great university is going to come in and wave a magic wand and solve systemic problems is probably a bit naive. If you don't try to change it, what will the outcome be? We all pay the price down the road, the children, their families and their community. We're not enacting the K-12 business. We're in the higher ed business, but this is our pipeline, so we do have a self-interest here. Our school education does a lot of innovative things. Our faculty is developing lots of innovative ways. For example, to build kits for high school teachers, to teach STEM topics, to develop curriculum around, how do you teach kids STEM and test the hypotheses about the different models and ways of doing it?

Chancellor Gilliam (12:11): It's a win for us as a university. I think it's a win for the community. Now it comes with its challenges. I mean, you're in a community who have, they have lots of reasons to distrust the university from down the road that is seen as a PWI, a primarily white institution, many of the folks have come over the faculty and the staff from our shop have been white. The students and the families primarily are black and not surprisingly, there's a lot of mistrust. Then there's just general localism. You guys don't live here, what do you know? It's the talent to age, old town gown rift also. All these things work against you and you have to overcome them and convince folks that you're trying to make a contribution to their families and their children.

Chancellor Gilliam (13:07): In particular, from my opinion we were trying to improve the life chances of these kids. I don't have to walk out of school and say, these kids don't have a rat's chance in hell. And walked out of the school and said, Hey, there's going to be a big number of these kids who are gonna make it. They're gonna continue on, they're gonna learn good habits and they're going to be able to get through school and get into careers or whether it's a career or get into a higher college or community college, trades, go wherever they want to go. I say, it is our mission indirectly, right? I mean, we teach in college age or college students. I shouldn't say college age. We have a lot of so-called non-traditional students as well.

Daniel (13:49): I'm curious, with that kind of challenge in front of you, the distrust of the fact that many of the educators you're sending from your higher ed institution to the local school might not look like the kids and reflect their culture. What were some of those intentional steps that you did to build bridges and build relationships so you got to the foundation of trust.

Chancellor Gilliam (14:15): A lot of it was, we hired the school's principal and Ms. Chestnut went to that school as a child, and is from that community. Now, it's not all peaches and cream, but she's very talented and has great street credit if you want to call it that. It's interesting, even when I go there, even though I'm African American, I think they see me as another suit. I'm not one of them. I'm another suit so it doesn't matter what color I am. Communities have a lot of reasons to be suspicious of the suits. It's an issue. There's some, don't get me wrong. There's some tension that you have to deal, but that comes with trying to level up as the kids say.

Daniel (15:06): I'd love to hear more about the model. You were telling me about the integrated students success model.

Chancellor Gilliam (15:10): Yeah. About half of our students are Pell eligible. We have about, I don't know what the right number is somewhat 40, some odd percent, first generation, and yet, and still we are ranked number one in the state of North Carolina for social mobility by US News and World Report. How do we take a population that comes less prepared to college and take them farther than anybody else? What we rely on is this model of integrated students access that asks the questions. What does the student need academically? What kind of support do they need? What does a middle or upper middle class kid come to college with already, right? How to navigate institutions? How to be experienced. They've been other places, books, there's books in the home. I mean, go down the list.

Chancellor Gilliam (16:14): We have to create that network for them, that architecture for them on the academic side. We have counselors. We have a lot of peer to peer learning with the seniors, the freshmen or the graduate students doing the undergraduate students to teach them the art of being a student. Some things that more advantage kids learn innately or come innately with our kids. One young lady told me, I'll tell you a quick story if you don't mind. I met her on campus talking to her. Where are you from? Some small town I haven't heard of? Where is that? Oh, it's up, go off toward the mountains. How far is that? It says 60 miles. I thought so. That's great. I said, if your family's close they can come down and visit you.

Chancellor Gilliam (17:04): In my mind I'm thinking the family's going to come into town. They're gonna take her to a steak dinner and buy her a school sweatshirt. She said "No, why would they come?" I said, well, what do you mean and she said, well, I'm the first one out. I'll never forget her words. I'm the first one out. And I said, well, what do you mean? She says, I'm the first one to go to college. She said, my parents drove me up to the corner of the campus and dropped me off with my bags and turned around and went home. And she's now left. This young lady is now left to navigate all of it for a 20,000 student university. It's not like somebody was waiting there. We teach her how to come from a smaller school, blah, blah, blah.

Chancellor Gilliam (17:48): So one with the integration is about the academic enterprise and how they navigate that. The second is the finances of being a student, the economics of being a student. How do you make sure you're getting maximum financial aid? How are you making sure that your bills are getting paid on time? How do you piece together a financial package that allows you to sustain yourself economically at the school and one that discourages or encourages a reduction of student debt, right? It's a kind of educational finance literacy, if you will. We teach that. The third part of the leg of the stool, if you will, is student wellbeing. We also understand that there's a person there and they may not understand the culture of higher ed. The previous fall, I remember a young woman on campus here and this guy walked in and I said, Hey, how are you doing? Freshman?

Chancellor Gilliam (19:02): Yeah. Where are you from some town I had not heard of? What you asked them. What's your biggest fear about being freshmen? I thought they were going to say, the classes are going to be hard, or I won't make any friends. What they said, we're really worried about getting lost. Getting lost? And they said, well, I don't know the streets our campuses serve a contained campus. It's not spread out over a bunch of buildings, but her town had two stop lights. She thought she'd gone to Manhattan and that can be emotionally taxing on it. My point of this is that there's a lot of psychological impacts on students generally, but students who don't come prepared with the built-in advantages. So the integration is between the academic, the financial and the student wellbeing. That's sort of the secret sauce. If you will.

Daniel (20:06): I relate to that story. I have a niece in her first year of uni as they call it over in the UK. They have a hybrid model because of the pandemic. Some classes are in-person, some are online and she was mixing up what days she was supposed to be online and what days to be in the class. But she was horrified that she was dropping the ball on what her professor and her peers would think of her. Like that was her biggest challenge with college so to speak

Chancellor Gilliam (20:38): Think about a kid who doesn't have a fan, like my kid would have called me up and said, or they would called my wife or any parent up and said, Hey, and the parent would have helped them figure it out or told them, Hey, you need to go talk to the professor and explain you got mixed up with your days and blah, blah, blah. A lot of kids come to the project with the idea that you only go and talk to somebody if you're in trouble, if you've done something wrong, as opposed to realizing they're there to support your educational progress. Look, our job is to get you to graduate. We need to do everything we can to help you graduate.

Chancellor Gilliam (21:24): I taught at UCLA for 29 years and there were two kinds of students, brilliant rich students and brilliant poor, too. That was it. It was like coaching the 84 Olympic team, all the coach does is roll the ball out there and let them play, not a lot of coaching involved. Those kids are going to be fine. Whether Frank Gilliam teaches them or not. They know they're so smart. They're going to figure it out. If they're poor, they're smart and they're going to figure it out. If they're rich, they've gone to a private school and all that. Stuff's already hardwired. They know how to go see the instructor, see that counselor, see the administrator. As both of my kids, God forbid, with so-called elite, private schools and those parents and those kids, they just say they understood what the system was and what the labor levers were of the system and how to work them.

Daniel (22:23): Chancellor Gilliam. I'm really enjoying this conversation. We're going to pause here just for a moment, for a message from our sponsors but when we get back, I'd love to pick your brain more on leadership and what we can learn from you leading such a massive organization in higher ed world-class professional development without leaving your home.

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Daniel (24:01): Learn more and get started smarttech.com/learningsuite. That's smarttech.com/learningsuite. Today's show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success during these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings. Organized Binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. All right. We're back with Dr. Franklin D Gilliam Jr. The chancellor of university of North Carolina Greensboro. I'd love to talk to the Ruckus Maker listening right now, and maybe just share some practical leadership tips that you've learned over your years, but I'm fascinated. The biggest school I worked at, we had 1800 kids, a staff of,, maybe 70 ish, probably with auxiliary people to just over a hundred, so decent size for a score, right. No where near 3000 staff, 20,000 students, or what your reality is. I'd love just to hear what value you can offer, The Ruckus Maker, listening in terms of leadership and leading at that level in a massive organization

Chancellor Gilliam (25:32): Daniel this is just one man's view, but the first thing I think you have to do is be authentic, be your authentic self. Don't try to be what you think. In my case, the mind's eye. If I asked you to think about a university president, just unfettered, think about one. You're a cool cat, woke and all of that, but I bet you if I really caught you off guard and it wasn't me asking you on the radio or on a podcast, what your mind's eye would see.

Daniel (26:08): I'll tell you right now. It's some person I've never met that lives in a big fancy house on campus. Like that's all I know, that's my experience. Right.

Chancellor Gilliam (26:17): And what do they look like?

Daniel (26:19): If we dig into that and what they look like, suit that kind of thing. Got some gray in their hair and that kind of deal, they've had some experience. I don't even know how to get to that position. I don't know what route that you would take.

Chancellor Gilliam (26:37): If you look at it, I will never forget. I was interviewing for a presidency, a school that shall go unnamed, and they, I was sitting in this room, they give you a chance to collect your thoughts before you go on in the process. I was sitting in a room and it had all the past presidents of this university and for many, many, many years, for a hundred and some odd years. I looked and I thought, Hmm, this is interesting. Where would I fit on that wall? There were older, white guys with white hair and you're going to look at all those pictures and then you're going to see me as an ex-football player who doesn't look like those guys. The point of this is to say, I could try to be like those guys in the picture and I could say, okay, this is what people expect the university president to be like, to look like but one of the reasons I agreed to do this is because your sort of target audience was Ruckus Makers. I'm going to bring the Ruckus. It's just that simple. I have to. It is who I am and I can't be somebody I'm not. I think the biggest mistake leaders make is they bend to the mean. They bend to what they think people want to see and hear. People can spot a phony. Most of the people, most of the time can, I should say, and they don't have a lot of trust in what you have to say, because that is what you really mean or are you just saying it for public publication consumption. If you are off and they understand that it comes from your heart and from exactly who you are I think that they can situate themselves.

Chancellor Gilliam (28:38): Vis-A-Vis you as the leader. You are what you say you are. So that's important. I've had two colleagues who died trying to be somebody that they weren't. Trying to be everything they thought that they should be, and both ended up dying, taking their own lives because the pressure is too great. So that's one. Secondly, you have to have a set of values about how you want your organization to operate. I have two fundamental conditions that have to be met. The people first have to be smart. I think as a leader, if you're a leader who thinks you need to be the smartest person in the room you're probably not going to be a very successful leader, right? If you're a CEO, you have to know a lot about, a little bit about everything that's going on.

Chancellor Gilliam (29:35): In those areas, these people think about those areas, 24 seven, you just can't have that kind of bandwidth. You have to understand that you're going to get the smartest people. You can. Secondly, for me, I have to have the nicest people, people who are fundamentally good people, people who are, would be a good teammate who would do things for the team because they knew it was in the interest of the team. Even if it meant they had to sacrifice a little bit or another way to say it is I won't hire a --holes. I don't know what I can say on your show, or I can't.

Daniel (30:11): Do whatever you want. We can bleep it out. It's up to you.

Chancellor Gilliam (30:13): They're inefficient, right? They cause a bunch of drama and people are running around trying and now you've wasted two or three days of some problem that could have been solved in five minutes. Secondly, they're corrosive to the organization because they're always going to talk junk in the hallways and they're going to second, guess the leadership. Three, they're going to demoralize their own staff because they're either going to have to lead by fear or intimidation. I can't have any of that. I would just say, I've been at this over 35 years. I can't, it doesn't work for me being smart. Isn't isn't in and of itself enough.

Daniel (30:50): The nice part matters.

Chancellor Gilliam (30:52): Smart and a good person or a fundamentally good person. You have to stick with that. You can't make exceptions. Well, they are really smart. They're really brilliant. If the person's a jerk, then they can't be on our team.

Daniel (31:10): Yeah. That's the worst kind like you said. They can add value in terms of the work, but what they destroy through their culture it's not worth the price you pay. I want to pull on the authenticity thread a little more because you are staring at all these past presidents, you're asking yourself, "Where I fit in?"

Chancellor Gilliam (31:30): Let me just say I don't ask myself,"Where I fit in." I really that's my point. I say I'm in. I'm putting myself in. I'm me not them.

Daniel (31:43): Yeah. Well, that's an important point. You're choosing yourself. You're saying, I belong here and that kind of thing. What I'm trying to get to is for the Ruckus Maker, listening, your words were to resist the forces. They try to bend you to the mean. I'd love to just ask you about that. How do you sort of block out that noise and deal with that pressure?

Chancellor Gilliam (32:09): Okay. Let me say two things. One, it's a caveat or a little back off. Make a caveat. The terms that you have to have a thick skin in this business. It's not personal. I'm not running for homecoming King. I did that once in high school, I'm not doing that now. I'm not running a popularity contest. What I tell people is, look, I'm going to be transparent about my decision making. I'm going to explain to you why I made a certain decision. You may not like the outcome, but you will not be able to say my decision was capricious or unreasonable. In other words, you could say, okay, I can see how somebody thinks that I just don't agree. That's different from me just ruling Willy nilly by Fiat. When I said don't bend to the mean, the caveat is you can't fight every day, right? You can't fight every day there. I wish, as one of our older alums told me, she loved my talk. I gave one time when she said, ``Your language is a "little peppery, Chancellor." So I got to watch peppery language when I speak publicly, but you're going to have to take some stuff you just are as the nature of the world, but there's some stuff you're just not going to take.

Daniel (33:30): It's all good. I think pepper adds flavor.

Chancellor Gilliam (33:33): There's just some stuff I will not eat. You can't fight every day either. You can't be the angry person you gotta pick your spots, but in your own mind, you have to know that you're not bending to the mean. In your own mind you say, "Okay, I'm doing these things for strategic reasons because these are the things I want to do." I want to see it's outcome. I want and I'll sacrifice and take some hits, but if I'm instrumental, if it gets me to where I want to go, then that's the price, price to play.

Daniel (34:10): Thank you for those insights. I really appreciate you digging into that. I could talk to you all day. I really could. I want to thank you for everything you've added, but the last couple of questions I ask everybody are really looking forward to your perspective, but as a thought experiment. If you could put one message on every single school marquee around the world for just one day, what would you put on that marquee?

Chancellor Gilliam (34:37): A quote by Bob Marley, who was quoting Haile Selassie, which is "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none, but ourselves can free our mind."

Daniel (34:49): Got it. Just in a quick aside, my wife wanted a record player and I got her one. We bought five records. They're all like legendary classics. Loui Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, we love that's like Sunday listening, but by Bob Marley, Legend was one of the first records we bought as well and then known a few others.

Chancellor Gilliam (35:13): What are the others? I'm curious, what others did you buy?

Daniel (35:16): Paul Simon, Graceland is one. Earth, Wind and Fire, one of their greatest hits actually so maybe it doesn't count. The fifth one I'm blanking for some reason. I love to hear how you'd build your school from the ground up. If you had no limitations around any resources, your only limitation was your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priorities?

Chancellor Gilliam (35:51): Well, one of the things I would do is fundamentally rearrange the structure of the universities. The American universities, which are based on 18th century European universities, are based on the 15th century. Almost every university is almost organized the exact same way. I would probably be less hierarchical, more flat. I would focus less on academic disciplines and more on problems with what some people call wicked problems that vexes society, and I'd organize people in. And Nope, this is not rocket science. I'm not the first person to say this, but that the theme would define who the scholars are, not the other way around and then you then find the folks who touch on that theme from any number of dimensions. I'd have musicians talking to accountants. I mean, depending on the problem, but what kind of unlikely friends can we make. I'd make it more automatic and problem oriented. I'd worry less about disciplines. I'd change the reward structure in universities. I think it's hard in the main for a person to be a top flight researcher and a great teacher. There are people who do it, but I would argue they are rare. In an environment, particularly a research university where you value research and a person's career is determined by their research. There's not a lot of incentive to innovate in the classroom, but you may be a person on the other hand who doesn't want to do search but is doing brilliantly innovative in the classroom, but because there's little reward for you doing that, you're not going to do it. I changed the incentives for this in higher ed. I would change the incentive structure and think about how you encourage innovation and knowledge production separate from how you encourage it in education.

Chancellor Gilliam (38:08): Now everybody says, "Oh, your research feeds back into your teaching. No, it doesn't, that's bull because your research specializes more and more and more and more as you go. The students don't need to have some specialized edgy, some fancy modeling, something or another. The political scientists, they need to know how come in the state of North Carolina we haven't had a budget since 1819. What processes and structures give you that result, that affect all of the citizens of the state? What process structures allow a president to contest an election and what standing do they have? I mean there's real problems. What obligation does the citizen have and what obligations, rights and responsibilities do government authorities have particularly street government authorities, i.e, police? Is there a way you can have order and laws and at the same time be humane. I mean, those are the things I want to understand. Not whether I can create some abstract model chancellor Gilliam.

Daniel (39:22): Thank you so much for being a part of the better leaders, better schools podcast. Of everything we talked about today, what's the one thing you want Ruckus Makers to remember?

Chancellor Gilliam (39:34): Be authentic, be authentic, be true to yourself, be who you are and be who you are and make the curve bend to you. That's right.

Daniel (39:47): Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast for Ruckus Makers. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel@betterleadersbetterschools.com or hit me up on Twitter at @alienearbud. If the better leaders better schools podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at @alienearbud and using the hashtag #BLBS. Level up your leadership at betterleadersbetterschools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.

UNC Greensboro is one of the seventeen campuses of The University of North Carolina, the birthplace of public higher education in America. Administered by President Peter Hans and overseen by The UNC Board of Governors, each campus is headed by its own chancellor and Board of Trustees.

The Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina elected Dr. Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., as the eleventh Chancellor of UNC Greensboro (UNCG) on May 22, 2015. Chancellor Gilliam brings to UNCG and the UNC System a wealth of experience from a career that spans more than 30 years in higher education. He took office on September 8, 2015.

During his tenure, UNCG has surpassed a record 20,000 students; grown its endowment, research enterprise, and overall facilities and campus infrastructure; significantly increased its fundraising; and elevated the presence, reputation, and real-world impact of the largest university in the North Carolina Triad region.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Gilliam served as Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for seven years and was a longtime UCLA Professor of Public Policy and Political Science. His research focused on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics. As Dean of UCLA Luskin, Dr. Gilliam shepherded a $50 million naming gift and launched and executed an ambitious strategic plan and capital campaign, establishing the school as a regional leader in addressing and finding solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems.

Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr.: School turnaround and giving kids a chance

“I turned to one of my staff members and I said, “these kids just don’t have a chance in hell.” By that I meant their life chances were so daunting and it was so disheartening because it didn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all about the society’s will. The public’s will to invest in the education of a chosen people and understand that long term sustainability of the society is going to rest on how we educate and take care of the next generations.”

Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr. 

Show Highlight

  • Results of the Great turnaround of Moss Street Partnership
  • How to lead without  the built in advantages
  • Integrated Student Success Model is #1 in NC using these essential questions 
  • Inclusive Excellence- More access doesn’t mean less quality
  • Discipline and creativity can coexist with this leadership attribute
  • Improve the life chances for children by teaching the art of being a student
  • Tips to block out the noise and pressure to bend to the mean
  • Avoid toxic inefficient teachers by hiring these 3 attributes


Dr. Gilliam has not only led UNCG to record growth, but he has also helped build a solid foundation for a very bright future at the university. In his first year at UNCG, Dr. Gilliam worked with board members and key leaders to assure UNCG’s inclusion on the Connect NC bond referendum, which voters ultimately passed, securing $105 million in funding for a new nursing and STEM building. The new building is scheduled to open by Spring 2021. He worked with campus leaders to secure a transformative gift from community leader and philanthropist Tobee Kaplan, who donated $5 million to name the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness. The gift is only the third of this size in UNCG’s history.

Dr. Gilliam led the effort to secure Millennial Campus designation from its Board of Governors, creating the conditions that will drive growth in areas like health and wellness and the creative and performing arts for years to come on campus and in the broader community.

Dr. Gilliam is a senior fellow with the FrameWorks Institute (winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions), where he has contributed to research and training on health care, racial equity, early child development, youth and rural issues, and criminal justice. In 2018, he was named chair of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the Union Square Campus, Gateway University Research Park, North Carolina Campus Compact, and the FrameWorks Institute, as well as the Executive Committee for the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.


Prior to his appointment as Dean at UCLA, Dr. Gilliam served as the inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor of Community Partnerships in the University of California system from 2002 to 2008. As Associate Vice Chancellor, he championed UCLA’s civic engagement by supporting engaged scholarship and community collaborations to improve the quality of life for residents of Los Angeles.

Dr. Gilliam is the author of Farther to Go: Readings and Cases in African-American Politics (Harcourt Brace), and his work has been published in many leading academic journals. He is frequently interviewed or cited by national and international news outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, The Huffington Post, and the BBC.

Dr. Gilliam was honored with the 2015 Upton Sinclair Award by the Liberty Hill Foundation for his renowned work advancing civic engagement and commitment to issues of equity. Twice nominated for UCLA’s Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award, he has also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Grinnell College, and the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and was a Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University. In addition, he taught at Columbia University, Fisk University, and — with former Vice President Al Gore — at Middle Tennessee State University. In 2017, Dr. Gilliam was named by Triad Business Journal as one of the region’s Most Admired CEOs — a group of top executives recognized for exceptional leadership in business, and for their philanthropic endeavors.

Dr. Gilliam received his B.A. from Drake University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Iowa. Dr. Gilliam has been married for 26 years to Jacquelean (“Jacquie”) Gilliam, most recently the Executive Director of Scholarships & Student Support Initiatives and Campus-Wide Initiatives at UCLA and now a philanthropic consultant and active community volunteer and leader. They are parents to Ariel Gilliam and Franklin D. “Trey” Gilliam, III.



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