Ashlie Martini

Ashlie Martini
Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the UC Merced School of Engineering

How do you define faculty leadership?
Faculty leadership is when we, as faculty, see something that could be improved and then take the initiative to make a change.

Can you share an example of when you've been able to influence positive change as an academic leader?
I was the Grad Group Chair when Mechanical Engineering finally became an official graduate degree in the UC system in 2016. It took several years and an unbelievable amount of organization and coordination to get it done. Our program is now growing rapidly, both in terms of student numbers and external recognition.

How could the University benefit from preparing more faculty for future leadership positions?
We all have to be leaders in some capacity, even if it’s just through chairing committees and leading our own research programs. Providing faculty with leadership skills can not only ensure that the faculty who pursue administrative paths are well-prepared to lead, but also benefit the university though the effectiveness and efficiency of faculty committees as well as through the impact of highly productive research programs.

Tell us about your experience with leadership development programs, or if you have not participated in any, what you would hope to gain from doing so.
I have not participated in any such programs, but I would hope to learn how to better manage conflict.

How does strong leadership from Faculty impact the University of California?
Faculty governance in the UC system means that, without strong faculty leadership, change is difficult, if not impossible. We need to always be adapting and improving to remain at the forefront of research and higher education. So it is critical that we have leadership that understands how to navigate the system and overcome challenges to make change.

What would you say to Faculty hard pressed to find time to participate in leadership workshops or other programming?
It is extremely difficult to find time for anything extra. So, I try to be judicious about what committees I join, etc., and focus on those that can have the biggest impact in areas that I believe are most important for our university.