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Judith Albino Helps Senior-Level Faculty Members Become Better Leaders


Judith Albino, PhD
Judith Albino, PhD, knows a thing or two about leadership. After all, she served as the first woman president of The University of Colorado. She’s been a vice-president, a dean four times, and she’s spent a significant portion of her career leading research teams, most recently as director of the Center for Native Oral Health.

Yet some of her most gratifying work has been helping Anschutz Medical Campus senior scientists and academic leaders take their own leadership skills to the next level. As director of the Leadership for Innovative Team Science (LITeS) program, she’s helping to create and sustain a strong network of colleagues who will train the next generation of clinical and translational scientists.

The LITeS program provides professional and executive training aimed at academics in the biomedical, clinical and health sciences. The program started nine years ago with funding from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, and is now jointly sponsored by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CCTSI) and CUSOM. Although the  National Institutes for Health funds CTSA programs in approximately 60 academic medical institutions across the country, CU’s LITeS program is the only of its kind.

“Other institutions developed programs to train younger, junior faculty. We are the only institution to develop a training program for senior leaders in science,” Albino said. “Other institutions are interested in what we are doing, and I’ve been visiting with some of them about how to begin similar programs at their universities.”

Participants accepted into the program take part in four, two-day interactive sessions during the academic year. They learn many advanced skills on topics such as building effective teams, managing conflict, giving and receiving feedback, managing change and working effectively in a multi-generational workplace. Participants also work together in smaller, interdisciplinary cohorts of five to seven people, tackling important issues on campus. Past cohorts examined topics such as team science, community outreach and research funding. The projects are presented to campus leadership, and many of the recommendations provided have been put into action.

“It’s exciting to see projects making a difference,” she said. But the overwhelmingly positive feedback Albino has received also really excites her.

“It’s so rewarding when someone comes to me and says, ‘I used this skill today,’ or ‘I’ve incorporated this into my regular practice.’ That’s when you know you’re doing it right.”

Developing a Cohesive Network of Leaders

Albino says an unexpected benefit participants have told her about is how LITeS creates an invaluable leadership network.

“We’ve had our participants tell us how they’ve developed new research projects with people from different schools on campus—people they wouldn’t have met if not for this program.”

They also enjoy being in the same room with people who know the struggles and challenges academic scientists face.

“It’s rewarding to be in a room with other senior-level people,” she said. “Sending our faculty to a standard leadership program that’s designed for the corporate world just wouldn’t be relevant.”

In addition, there’s a real sense of camaraderie that goes beyond their academic commonalities. “A number of groups continue to get together to further the connections made during their time in LITeS.”

Connecting Faculty Members to the University

While Albino admits that her perspective might be a shade different, given her prior position as university president, she is thrilled when she hears that participants feel a greater connection to the university as a whole.

“It’s not uncommon for university faculty members to feel close to their own disciplines but not necessarily the university as a whole,” she said. “It seems this kind of interdisciplinary experience where they get the chance to learn about the broader university furthers their sense of belonging.”

Above all, Albino is impressed by how open senior faculty members are to learning how to become better leaders.

“It’s one of the reasons I love it so much,” she said. “The people I meet are brilliant scholars, scientists, and physicians—and wonderful human beings. Working with them is truly a privilege.”

Faculty members interested in applying for the 2017-2018 LITeS program can find more information here:  http://www.ucdenver.edu/research/CCTSI/education-training/LITeS/Pages/default.aspx