Luis Fernando Santana

Luis Fernando Santana
Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the UC Davis School of Medicine

How do you define faculty leadership?
I define faculty leadership as a set of actions aimed to meeting our departmental and institutional mission. A leader takes on a project that was given to her and through careful analysis and hard work completes it. A good leader expands the initial scope of the project and achieves things that were not initially thought of. The best leaders take the initiative to solve problems they identify and, if lucky, change the direction the department was taking on a particular topic. The one thing that unites all leaders is their desire to perform at the highest level.

Can you share an example of when you've been able to influence positive change as an academic leader?
I have been the Chair of the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology for about two years and a half. From day one, I have been working very hard to empower my faculty, staff, and students to be the best versions of themselves. Together with Sandy Higby and Jennifer Rossi, I have implemented changes in the financial operation of the department. I am proud of these changes. I have worked with faculty to renew our courses. We produced a stunning eBook for our HPH400 course for medical students. I am proud of that work. That said, most positive change that I have seen was illustrated a few days ago. A committee assigned to come up with new space policy recommendations sent me what I consider to be an extraordinary report that shines for its thoughtful and careful analysis. They went beyond what I asked and produced work that exceeded, by far, my expectations. That was my happiest moment as Chair.

How could the University benefit from preparing more faculty for future leadership positions?
By preparing more faculty for leadership positions, we ensure continuity in our work and, if lucky, expansion of our mission as a premier academic institution.

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 a leadership development program. If I were to do so, I would like to learn more about how to become a creative leader.  

How does strong leadership from Faculty impact the University of California?
It promotes innovation. 

What would you say to Faculty hard pressed to find time to participate in leadership workshops or other programming?
We need you.