Dr. Stephen E. Cross
When Steve Cross initially joined Georgia Tech in September
2003 as GTRI director, he said the essence of his job was helping GTRI
personnel at all levels, from support staff to research scientists, do their
"I'm trying to show by example how a leader in GTRI
should operate, through my own research in the School of Industrial and Systems
Engineering, through my communication, and by creating and inspiring a shared
vision with GTRI research faculty, staff and the rest of the university,"
Cross said during his tenure as director of GTRI.
Employing "Servant Leadership"
Cross brought to GTRI's directorship a management style that
reflects his own easygoing, down-to-earth personality. Describing it as
"servant leadership," Cross counts himself fortunate to have worked
under several of its practitioners during his career.
"Servant leaders are more effective leaders," he
elaborates. "They work quietly behind the scenes and don't try to get
attention for themselves."
At the same time, Cross' low-key demeanor masks an intense
competitive streak. "I'm also driven to achieve great results, and I
challenge existing processes," he says. "We can always do things
better. It's never acceptable to say, 'This is the way we've always done it.'
My personal motto is that progress begins when you deny the present
Whatever one calls it, it worked. When Cross first settled
into the director's office, GTRI's activity, as measured by the annual dollar
amount of contracts and grants, was $115 million. For fiscal year 2008, the
total stood at $185 million.
Finally ... Resolution
While many factors have contributed to the growth in
research, one of the most significant, from a historical perspective, involves
the relationship between GTRI and Georgia Tech. An ongoing issue has been how
to strike a balance that allows Georgia Tech’s applied research
organization, GTRI, and its academic researchers to share and benefit from the
other's resources, but without interfering with their operational prerogatives.
The problem has nagged GTRI directors and Tech administrators at least as far
back as the 1960s.
Working with former Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough and
former Provost Jean-Lou Chameau, Cross' leadership helped create a productive
new path toward resolving this question. Today, to an outside observer and
increasingly on campus, the distinction between research coming from
academic units at Georgia Tech and research coming from GTRI is not obvious—and
in many cases, not even relevant.
"I like to say there's just one Georgia Tech,"
Cross has said. "It consists of an academic side and a research side, but
we operate as one Georgia Tech. The sum is greater than the parts."
Uniting Research from Campus and GTRI
Cross now executes his philosophy of “One Georgia Tech” as
part of campus administration. In May 2010, President G. P. “Bud” Peterson
named him executive vice president for Research (EVPR), granting him direct
oversight of GTRI, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Tech
Research Corporation and Georgia Tech’s interdisciplinary research centers.
As EVPR, Cross reports directly to the president
and is a new member of the executive leadership team, consisting of the
president, the executive vice president for Academic Affairs (provost) and the
executive vice president for Administration and Finance. He will work closely
with the academic units, affiliated units and faculty members.
For more, view the Wikipedia article on Stephen E. Cross.