Perspectives on Transition: How to Exit a Registry Assignment Effectively

Dr. E. Joseph Lee 
Interim President
Spring Hill College (Mobile, Alabama)
August 2018 – July 2020

 

I have had many conversations over the past few years relative to how one transitions out of a particular assignment and, on occasion, how one quickly begins a new challenge.  Ideally, it would be nice to have a month or two between placements but, as many of you are aware, we do not always have this luxury.

I have been very fortunate over the past eight years to serve in a variety of Registry interim placements. These placements have spanned between six months to two years. In these interim roles, I have served at two large public universities, a community college, a school of architecture, and two liberal arts institutions. The specific responsibilities included two presidencies as well as four placements in the enrollment management/student life areas.

I believe the transition process becomes a little easier when the institution is able to hire the permanent person well before the term is completed.  When this is the case, the last two months, quite naturally, lead to a changing of the guard. If an assignment is truly successful, the team will have learned from you how to sustain the initiatives regardless of who is in charge. The goal should be to make the transition as seamless as possible for the permanent hire.

When beginning a new assignment, I approach the role as if I am serving as the permanent administrator, empowered to make change. I think this approach allows one to make necessary changes rather than act as a placeholder. In terms of transitioning out of a position, I don’t believe there is any magic formula. If the assignment has been a longer one, friendships will have been formed which can make it a little more difficult to leave. My best advice is to not look back and immediately immerse yourself in your next goal, a new Registry assignment or something else entirely. This has worked well for me, and I am constantly surprised how quickly the transition occurs. To paraphrase a well-known NFL coach, when asked how I was feeling about a rewarding assignment coming to an end, I quickly replied, “On to Mobile.”

 

[Editor’s note: this is the first article published in our “Perspectives On Transition” series. The next article will be published in the winter edition of the Registry Chronicles.]

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