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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998. Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Physical growth of the Center for Creative Leadership

Ulmer continues to discuss the expansive growth of the Center for Creative Leadership under his direction, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. In particular, this passage focuses on the physical growth of the Center geographically. In part fueled by the desire to reach a wider audience and to tap into the international sector, the Center opened branches in Colorado Springs, San Diego, and eventually in Brussels.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998. Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Let's talk, if we could, a few minutes about your effort to really take the Center's work out onto a wider stage, the expansion of Colorado Springs, the decision to open San Diego, the decision to open Brussels. Maybe if you could reflect on first the broad strategic vision. You've mentioned generally, of course, that you wanted to go out and touch more people and carry the Center's work out to a wider audience, but if you can maybe expand on that issue. And then I'll ask you some questions about each of the branches and then we can talk about the successes that you've had on those fronts and how those came to pass.
Well, I think to tell you the truth, Joe, that I have mentioned the primary factor, and that was just my thinking that we had the capability to do things on a larger scale. And in order to do that and to not make Greensboro the hub of everything, give people a couple of other attractive options and places to go for those programs that we did in-house. At the same time, remember we were trying to increase the number of our affiliates, our licensees, and then eventually we got to the discussion of your licensees are now successful and are they contributing to the Center or are they simply taking the Center's materials for their own benefit and so forth. I never thought that was a very powerful argument. I thought they were doing both simultaneously and satisfactorily with a few minor glitches every once in a while. They would underbid for some kind of contract. Even the branches were doing that once in a while but all in all, I thought that that program of outreach worked pretty well. Exactly how you take a product such as executive education and distribute it more widely, of course, is always an interesting exercise. And you have to go back to the history of the Center and what are the core elements of the Center's programs. And individualized attention and feedback about individual behavior in a very supportive environment are really the hallmarks of most of the Center's programs. So there are some things you can do over the net, and some things you can do with distance learning and some things that you can't. So we always had those debates and we thought about what we needed. So instead of doing everything by the telephone or T.V., I think most of us decided that we did need physical branches and that while Greensboro was an attractive and delightful place and would probably be the home of our major research element, it was nice to have something that was more convenient that was seen as attractive. And in the San Diego case, we picked it also in part because we thought it would be at least a little bit nearer to the multi-cultural world and particularly to the Asian and Pacific regions.