Dr. Randy Danielsen

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month Randy Danielsen, Ph.D. is featured. Dr. Danielsen is the President of the Union Institute & University International Alumni Association Board and Professor & Dean at the Arizona School of Health Sciences.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Leadership, I believe, is the influence of a person who moves others to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. To be an ethical leader, you need to pay attention to who you are, what you do, what goals you seek, your honesty, the way you use power, and your values. I am a big believer in resilient leadership (also known as stubborn leadership). This is a personal quality that predisposes leaders to bounce back in the face of loss. In fact, resilient leaders do more than bounce back—they bounce forward.

Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.

A. As Professor & Dean at the Arizona School of Health Sciences I was asked to solve a serious accreditation issue in 2012 of one of the professional programs as well as a serious rift between administration and faculty. I consider my style that of participatory leadership. Within a week I had met with faculty, created a small work group to address the accreditation issue, and met with students. Within a month the accreditation issue was managed and the relationship with faculty was on the mend. How did that happen? This happened by sharing the “power” with those who care about an issue, that will almost always result in success.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. I just finished reading the autobiography of Stanley A. McChrystal, a retired four-star General in the United States Army, best known for his command of Joint Special Operations Command in the mid-2000s, entitled “My Share of the Task.” He is widely admired for his hunger to know the truth, his courage to find it, and his humility to listen to those around him. Even as the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, he stationed himself forward and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?

A. Leadership was foreign to me as I grew up. With self-esteem issues and poor academic performance, there was no room for me to be a leader of anything. It was the United States Air Force that turned that around for me. It has been said that the military “tears you down” then “builds you up.” This was true in my case. Three weeks into basic training I was appointed squad leader and responsible for eight other new recruits. It was certainly a “sink or swim” moment and because of a drill instructor’s mentorship, I was able to step up to the plate. Knowing that you can make a difference gives you new energy. Then you have to learn resilience.

About Dr. Danielsen

Dr. Randy Danielsen, (Union Ph.D. 2003) is a Professor & Dean at the Arizona School of Health Sciences. He is also the President of the Union Institute & University International Alumni Association Board. Dr. Danielsen began his healthcare career as a medical corpsman in the U.S. Air Force in 1970 serving 28 years with the Air Force and the Army National Guard, retiring in 1998 as a Desert Storm veteran with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He is a graduate of the University of Utah, receiving his MEDEX PA Program degree in 1974 and Bachelor of Science (cum laude) in 1978. He earned a master’s in PA Studies (MPAS) from the University of Nebraska with an emphasis in Internal Medicine in 1997 and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in Medical Education from the Union Institute & University in 2003.

Dr. Danielsen has served in a number of leadership positions throughout the PA profession. He has participated on a variety of publication advisory/review boards and has been a prolific writer. He has published over twenty-five peer-reviewed articles, twenty journal editorials, and four book chapters. In 2011, Dr. Danielsen published his first book entitled “The Preceptor’s Handbook for Supervising Physician Assistants.”

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