Sunday, August 21, 2011

Margee Ensign

Since last year, the President of AUN is Margee Ensign. She is a very talented, remarkable woman who came here from being, if I remember, a dean at the University of the Pacific. I met her when she interviewed me for this position and I was quite struck by the vision she had of what AUN can and will become, and how she showed me what part I could play in making that vision a reality.

When I visited AUN before I had officially accepted her invitation, I was amazed at the universal praise she received from faculty and staff. Everyone I talked to told a very similar story: 'There were problems, and Margee has turned this place around. We're now headed in the right direction.' They praised her integrity, her ability to get things done, her superhuman energy. Part of the reason I accepted and came out here was that faith they and I have in her. Though in humility, she only claims to be a "noisy, short woman."

Granted, they also say she is a hands on manager with a bit of a justifiable smirk. The flip side of that is that she notices individuals. She personally welcomed us to Yola, climbing up into the plane to come and get us. When I missed a meeting with all the faculty because of an amoeba, she asked to make sure I was feeling alright. She moved schedules around to make sure my family could attend some of the welcoming functions with me and loaned us her driver to get the kids back home again near bedtime. This attention is not unique to me - she cares and she reaches out universally, indefatigably.

At the faculty retreat this weekend, our interim dean spoke to us about her. He met her when the school he started at UoP hired her as dean. He testified that she turned the school around and boldly led it in wonderful directions he had not even dreamed of. He spoke of the genuineness of her compassion, her vision, her unyielding integrity, and her faith in us and AUN. One of the most interesting things he said was when he reminded us that he was already retired and enjoying it very much thank you. when she called him up and asked him to fill in as dean. He doesn't like heat, or travel, and misses many of the comforts from home. But, and this was amazing,

"She is a person who is worth crossing an ocean for."

I feel deeply privileged to be working for and with such a person. I don't know whether she pronounces her name En-sin (a low ranking naval officer) or En-sign (a banner), but to me she is a banner, an ensign to Nigeria. I know I will try to do everything in my power to make her vision of AUN and Nigeria a reality. If she happens to see this, let me just say Thank you, Madame President. Thank you for this golden opportunity to be a part of this.

I cannot believe my good fortune, in moving from a wonderful inspiration like Per to her.