Dan Boggan Bids Goodbye to Berkeley, BAS

by Linda Weimer

"A good human being," is the thought that Vice Chancellor Dan Boggan would like to leave in our minds as he boards a plane for Kansas next week and his new job at the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Is that possible for someone in a position like Boggan's? He makes decisions all day, every day, from the difficult to the mundane, such as where to locate a hazardous-waste facility on campus, how to cope with a reduced work force, or how to respond to people protesting the type of grass being planted in People's Park.

Judging from colleagues' responses (see page 8), Dan Boggan will be remembered as "a good human being" and much more. In a recent interview, he reflected on his eight years as head of Business and Administrative Services.

Q. What do you consider your most important achievements?

A. Getting Foothill built, helping to diversify the University (including the directors of my own division) and improving the overall communications between staff and administration with programs like the "Bag It With Boggan" lunches and department forums. It shouldn't be difficult to talk to UC's leaders.

Q. What are you leaving undone?

A. I'm sorry we didn't start making the administrative systems improvements earlier. We really didn't have the support for it in the late '80s, but if we had been able to streamline and computerize systems then, we would have been much better prepared for the budget crunch. People don't realize how much change has occurred in just 10 years. In the mid-'80s, we were still using typewriters. Now we expect to have current data at our fingertips.

Q. Are there any upsides to the budget crunch?

A. It's forcing us to be much more efficient. We've gone through three VERIPs and huge cuts, and the University is still functioning. The staff have done an outstanding job in helping us bridge the gap to new ways of doing things. We all have a tendency to feel overworked and don't have the energy to do more things, but I think energy will be released as we free ourselves from our old bureaucratic methods. Our focus on training and empowerment of our staff has been good. The most important thing is how well you take care of people working with you, and how well you help them realize their potential.

Q. How do you do that in such a big institution?

A. We've made a start with the Staff Internship Program and the Cal staff literacy project. Those programs already have helped a lot of people. We need to tackle the notion of training and development on a larger level and put a greater focus on training employees and developing teamwork. We have a pilot project in BAS to provide recognition, not necessarily tied to individuals, but awards to teams.

Q. As Berkeley's former city manager, how would you characterize the University's current relations with the city?

A. The ambiance of a college town is fantastic. It helped draw me to Berkeley as city manager. I've been disappointed at the conflicts between the city and University on governance issues. The two institutions are so different; it's hard for them to understand each other. Land-use issues are the greatest problem. Cities jealously guard land use. The University says it's our land and we need to do this, so get out of the way.

When I first came here, the University was tied up in litigation with the city over sewers, and I was able to work out a compromise that saved the University over $2 million. That was very satisfying. I think now relations are improving. The city and University are learning to appreciate each other a little more and to appreciate that they have a lot of the same problems.

Q. A big issue for you has been People's Park. How do you feel about that?

A. I'm troubled by the hardness of some of the community activists who are fighting a battle about a piece of land that doesn't need to be fought anymore. The notion of a park should be attractive to everyone. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be held hostage by a small group of people. We are not about running homeless people out of the park, we are about running criminals and drug dealers out of the park. The courts have upheld our decisions, and students say that they feel safer.

Q. As a manager, how would you characterize your style?

A. You have to be able to communicate with people in all areas, at all levels, and you have to be able to listen. You have to hear what people are saying and what they are not saying. You delegate and hold people accountable. Set standards and make sure there is agreement. I have developed performance contracts with my direct reports, based on departmental plans, and that helps mutual expectations remain clear. If you allow people to participate in decision making, they will do their best for you.

Q. What things do you feel best about as you leave Berkeley?

A. Lots of things. It's been a thrill having our athletic program get to a higher level. Getting the Berkeley Administrative Initiatives accepted and underway. I feel good about the success of our internship program and Staff Appreciation Day. I see most staff feeling good about it. There is a level of dedication among our staff at Berkeley that many people don't realize. Our people feel proud of the place. Pride is crucial.

Q. What advice do you have for your successor?

A. Don't assume anything. It's important to understand how deeply people care about this place but how turf-oriented we are. We also need to help the University community realize that when you are dealing with five or six thousand transactions a day, you will get a handful of problems. We're not perfect, but we do a great job given the size of the task. Most people don't realize that the University's physical plant has grown by about 10 percent since I arrived, but we have about 20 percent less funding to deal with it. And the new buildings are much more complex and harder to manage.

This is a big job, but I know the chancellor will go for the best person. In the meantime, I think BAS is in good hands with Leroy Bean. I'm confident that the strategic work I started will be carried forward by Leroy and the BAS directors to benefit the entire campus.

Wishing Dan Goodbye

"Dan is like a star baseball player. He has a gracefulness that makes even the hard things look easy."

Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor and Provost

"Dan's efforts to modernize and humanize Berkeley's administrative structure have been wide-ranging, creative, and significant. In addition, he is one of those rare, charismatic people with an almost larger-than-life presence in the Berkeley community. He will be greatly missed."

Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science, IGS Associate Director

"Even when he was put on the spot by employees, he answered their questions and showed that he cared."

Corliss Watkins, Director, Visitor Information Center

"He is the consummate community builder. Because of his leadership and optimism, we have important new programs, including the Staff Internship Program, the CALS Basic Skills Program, and the Management Academy."

Valerie Weller, Manager, Staff Internship Program

"I am lucky and grateful to have had a mentor whose values and ethics are closely aligned to mine. He is always kind to, and respectful of, others and knows, above all, how to build community where none existed. He will be missed because he gained our respect and allegiance and won our affection."

Anita Madrid, Staff Ombudsperson

"Dan leaves the campus poised to fully exit its archaic, managerial past. I believe the Boggan years will, in future writings, be identified with those during which Berkeley became a modern administrative organization."

Russ Ellis, Vice Chancellor-- Undergraduate Affairs


Copyright 1994, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
Comments? E-mail berkeleyan@pa.urel.berkeley.edu.