Patricia McGuire
University president

Patricia McGuire

President of Trinity Washington University.

Archive: Patricia McGuire

Age irrelevance

Those who are curious, creative, flexible and broad-minded often appear to be much younger than their actual ages, while negative people seem much older. Geezerdom is a state of mind, not an age!

By Patricia McGuire | December 20, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Seize the moment!

In this grim era, we need exceptional models of startling achievement, such as the Kennedy Center honorees, to remind us of the possibilities. We will only find triumph again by believing we really can do it.

By Patricia McGuire | December 13, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lessons of aged icons

Deep in the roots of every great corporate success story lurks the DNA of entropy and the possibility of failure.

By Patricia McGuire | December 6, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Change is a constant

As I matured, I learned that game changers are not mere serendipity. Leaders set forces in motion that become the game changers. Good leaders develop skill in seizing the opportunities when change comes along.

By Patricia McGuire | November 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Flawed heroes: a love story

Michael Vick is very lucky. He is the latest beneficiary of American pop culture's curious penchant for amnesia about the bad behaviors of famous people.

By Patricia McGuire | November 22, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Courageous women

How do people, like many of my students, prevail against long odds? They're determined to succeed, and believe they can. They ask for help. And they don't let setbacks turn into backsliding.

By Patricia McGuire | November 15, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

In praise of conflict

The reality is that the "bitter enmity" of politicians is about as real as a WWF show. Throwing and taking fake punches is part of the entertainment. It's all part of the job.

By Patricia McGuire | November 8, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Whose heaven?

Domination -- one language over many, one culture over all others, one way of judging cuisine or student achievement -- is the root cause of much human conflict, poverty, oppression, and the shattering disappointment of French chefs.

By Patricia McGuire | November 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Call to action

Like the miners' rescuers, great teachers pull us along from the darkness into the light, giving us the power to help others do the same. A high school history teacher sparked a change in perspective that continues to illuminate my life.

By Patricia McGuire | October 25, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Torts terrors

On graduation day from law school, I opened the program to be sure my name was listed. I was there! Never had a graduation meant so much to me.

By Patricia McGuire | October 18, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A winning concept

I told the trustees 'You're right, we should not spend $10 million on a gym for five women to play basketball. Instead, let's spend $20 million on a destination venue for amateur athletics.' The bigger concept proved more compelling.

By Patricia McGuire | October 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Debate v. decision

As a university president, my batting average for good decisions has improved as I've developed more confidence in the wisdom of a talented group of advisers.

By Patricia McGuire | October 4, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Give me a break!

The Wall Street Journal dismisses critical reasoning as a 'soft' skill. Huh? Critical reasoning is the foundation skill for professional success. The specific skills needed in any job will change many times, and critical reasoning is the ability to 'figure stuff out' long beyond classroom days.

By Patricia McGuire | September 27, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Personal appeal

Adrian Fentye keeps to a rigorous schedule, stays very fit, maintains focus on his goals, is able to multi-task and produce very effective results -- and many people dislike him for all of that.

By Patricia McGuire | September 20, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

One brick at a time

The landscape of fame is littered with Olympic gold medalists and lottery winners who fell on hard times because they thought one big moment would sustain success throughout their lives.

By Patricia McGuire | September 13, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Progressive poverty

Trinity is thriving, in our best financial position ever, as other universities take a much bigger hit. Our years of living frugally served us very well when the recession hit.

By Patricia McGuire | September 5, 2010; 07:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Respected, not beloved

Someone who wants the word "beloved" to appear in stories next to his or her name should consider work as a pastor or preschool principal. Effective leaders are rarely beloved; what we must achieve is respect.

By Patricia McGuire | August 30, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lifelong learning

As much as I've enjoyed each life stage, I would never want to be 30 again ... or 20 or 16. I'm not even sure about repeating 40-something.

By Patricia McGuire | August 23, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting a grip

We live and work in an extraordinary Age of Rudeness. We have to learn how to get a grip and hold on fast. If we can't do that, we need to consider other lines of work.

By Patricia McGuire | August 16, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

A well-traveled path

Should celebrities trade on their fame to gain political power? Actually, most politicians start out in some other line of work, and few have specific training for the work they will do in public office.

By Patricia McGuire | August 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bossing the boss

I was also not very good at being a subordinate staffer. I wanted more freedom. Landing the college presidency -- was a perfect solution. Free, at last! Well, not quite.

By Patricia McGuire | August 9, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Chelsea's choice

Privacy -- of information, whereabouts, wedding locations and personal tastes -- is, increasingly, an outmoded concept.

By Patricia McGuire | August 5, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Fearless inexperience

When I became president of Trinity, I had never held anything resembling a senior management job. But I had found the practice of law unappealing. And Trinity's founding order knew it needed to change. Enter the inexperienced young lawyer.

By Patricia McGuire | August 2, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Authentic success

I became much more successful as a leader when I grew comfortable with revealing more of myself in the job, worrying less about pleasing others who were bound to be critics no matter how hard I tried to appease them.

By Patricia McGuire | July 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Original sin

Vilsack reversed his firing, Obama called Sherrod to apologize, and even Breitbart and O'Reilly muttered some words. They're like schoolkids called to task by the nuns. Yeah, sorry... until next time!

By Patricia McGuire | July 26, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

OMG! I luv this stuff!

The whole idea of the term paper is at risk because students don't understand the difference between presenting reams of material and writing a thoughtful analysis.

By Patricia McGuire | July 21, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Soccer? For sissies!

When it comes to football, the real talent lives on the playing fields of Spain and the Netherlands, Uganda and Nigeria, England and South Africa and Brazil and other nations whose soccer talents leave the U.S. in the dust.

By Patricia McGuire | July 15, 2010; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (17)

Cheap shots

McChrystal was wrong to betray his military professionalism with cheap shots in Rolling Stone. But in an ironic way, his bizarre conduct has exposed the even more bewildering nature of this unwinnable war.

By Patricia McGuire | July 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mr. Clean's smudge

Despite our claims to puritanical values, America loves a good sex scandal -- so much so that we keep demanding more news about the private lives of public people.

By Patricia McGuire | July 8, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Fleeting fame

I was on my way to the beach when my boss toldme I had to come back early to "screen test" for a children's news show. Surely, it was a boondoggle. But it turned out to be a great experience.

By Patricia McGuire | July 1, 2010; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

History lessons

For a cautionary tale of risk management gone awry, few books can match Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air." And for those looking to triumph against the odds, check out "A Hope in the Unseen."

By Patricia McGuire | June 24, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Career coincidence

The best preparation for success lies in seizing opportunities to learn new things every day. What's most important is not what I learned in school, but how I keep learning to meet the challenges I could not have imagined even five years ago.

By Patricia McGuire | June 21, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Anarchy's progeny

The tea-party movement is legitimate dissent, but some of its claims are way off base. The real Boston Tea Party wasn't about rejecting taxation at all; the idea was that taxation was legitimate only if imposed by elected leaders.

By Patricia McGuire | June 17, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

No DiMaggio

We need to set Strasburg free from the ills of hero worship, allowing him to be excellent at the game while also remaining a decent human being.

By Patricia McGuire | June 14, 2010; 12:31 PM ET | Comments (1)

Perfect imperfection

Forgiveness rarely snags headlines in the mosh pit of the daily news. Bleeding bodies and screamers fill our screens and front pages. 'Outrage' is associated with somebody getting small fries at McDonald's window when she ordered large.

By Patricia McGuire | June 10, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Gift of freedom

Perhaps each of the Gores is giving the other the gift of freedom at a moment in their lifespan when they still have the ability, energy and vision for one final great act or far-flung adventure.

By Patricia McGuire | June 7, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Slippery slope

I've learned that a leader has to respond immediately to a crisis, with passion and conviction, while also providing an action plan -- and back-ups in case the plan fails.

By Patricia McGuire | June 3, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Baby faces

Twenty years into my job as a college president, I may be wiser and more prudent. I'm also somewhat less creative.

By Patricia McGuire | May 26, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mad as hell

Voters felt let down when Obama didn't end the wars, stop terrorism, fix the economy, restart the housing boom, ensure full employment, and stop NBC from canceling Law & Order.

By Patricia McGuire | May 24, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Own It

When bad things happen, there is no substitute for telling the truth, telling it again, telling it often and as completely as possible.

By Patricia McGuire | May 20, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Laura's choice

Public figures do not owe the public the spectacle of every salacious and boring detail of their personal lives. We have the Palin family for those who like oversharing.

By Patricia McGuire | May 17, 2010; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (5)


I shudder to think where we might be today if Glenn Beck or Christopher Hitchens had been at the Continental Congress instead of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

By Patricia McGuire | May 13, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

First teachers

My mother and I are friends, now, after all these years -- but I still know who's the boss in this relationship!

By Patricia McGuire | May 10, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

The revolution continues

Some say the social movements of the 20th century are no longer necessary -- an African American is now president of the United States, a woman is speaker of the House. Does that mean 'the revolution' is over? Certainly not.

By Patricia McGuire | May 6, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Snake oil

The value of integrity is, too often, unknown or disparaged, while the value of greed appears to be a big bank account, fancy cars and homes, and a reputation for success.

By Patricia McGuire | May 3, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

No coasting

Success does not mean an end to insecurity. I still get up very early every day, eager to prove that I can still lead Trinity College efectively.

By Patricia McGuire | April 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

To tell the truth

My experience as a university president as well as a member of many boards has taught me a very clear lesson: an institution that confronts the disaster, tells the truth and communicates openly is far more likely to regain public confidence.

By Patricia McGuire | April 26, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Too many toys

Thinking about those mink eyelashes made me think about my own possessions. Hmm. What do I own that's more expensive than Oprah's eyelashes?

By Patricia McGuire | April 22, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Motivating winners

Garfinckle's, Woodward & Lothrop, Hechts and Hechinger all failed because their business models could not change with the times.

By Patricia McGuire | April 19, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Adirondack reverie

What do they know that we don't? The average U.S. worker gets 15 paid vacation days and 10 holidays a year. France and Finland: 30 vacation days, 10 holidays. Germany: 24 and 10. Austria: 25 and 13.

By Patricia McGuire | April 15, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Video victim

Young David should find himself a good children's rights lawyer. This is an open-and-shut case of child exploitation.

By Patricia McGuire | April 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Via Dolorosa

Unless church officials show they understand what happened to children, the church will continue to wander in the forest of accusation, anger and erosion of moral authority.

By Patricia McGuire | April 7, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Winning hearts

Why do fans often seem to favor the lesser contestant over the proven power? Our sense of justice, historic antipathy toward power, and love of the game all come into play.

By Patricia McGuire | April 5, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Queen bee

The irony is that Sarah Palin's most authentic persona is her inner feminist, a woman who craves a position of real power.

By Patricia McGuire | April 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

Nothing But Adolescents

Feeling entitled, believing that "normal" rules don't apply -- such is the arrogance of large fame and great fortune acquired too young and with inadequate moral grounding.

By Patricia McGuire | March 29, 2010; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (5)

Action heroes

Successful leaders --- whether politicians or corporate officials or college presidents --- know that, sometimes, the very action that will create long-term success creates a lot of short-term noise. Leaders can't be afraid of noise.

By Patricia McGuire | March 23, 2010; 09:23 PM ET | Comments (1)

Unconscionable TV

Beck's problems at the network arise from more than petty internal bickering. Beck's real problem is that he has quickly become for political commentary what Lindsay Lohan is for serious acting -- a sideshow.

By Patricia McGuire | March 21, 2010; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (10)

Leveling the field

The numbers on women's leadership belie the myth that women now have a level playing field. In fact, women are still fewer than 25% of the top leaders in media, medicine, law and higher education.

By Patricia McGuire | March 18, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cool coaches

Too much cool can be disastrous. Last season, the Redskins' Jim Zorn never lost his cool. He did lose his job. His team lacked the passion to win.

By Patricia McGuire | March 15, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Comeback kids

There's no such thing as a private action for a public figure. Nor is shame a permanent condition, only a temporary problem.

By Patricia McGuire | March 11, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Silent power

Desiree Rogers made the fundamental mistake of making the story about her, rather than about her clients --- the Obamas.

By Patricia McGuire | March 8, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Retro Leno

If Leno wants to have a successful new run on the Tonight Show, he has to remake the show for today's edgier tastes.

By Patricia McGuire | March 4, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Trust killer

Toyota will not get my business. It's not just the scary sudden acceleration problem, which is bad enough. Toyota's executives did the worst possible thing -- they ignored the problem.

By Patricia McGuire | March 1, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Medals Count

What about those old trophies gathering dust in my guest room? Maybe I should put them in the attic, but that seems like a shame. They remind me of a time when anything seemed possible.

By Patricia McGuire | February 25, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hope For Us All

What fuels our love affair with the underdog? The potential winner in all of us leaps for joy when the unexpected contestant seizes the day. If he could do it, so can I!

By Patricia McGuire | February 21, 2010; 05:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Family business

Rather than seeing Patrick Kennedy's retirement as the end of an era, I believe his decision is a very wise move, given his personal challenges. Somewhere out there is another Senator Kennedy and maybe even another President Kennedy. The hiatus will give them time to craft a fresh image and new political agenda.

By Patricia McGuire | February 18, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Becoming a champion is not a hobby; champions are almost monk-like in their single-minded devotion to the religion of success.

By Patricia McGuire | February 15, 2010; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Who are you?

The Who's presence at the Super Bowl was a marvelous example of the merits of persistence and re-invention through all life stages. I think they still absolutely mean it when they sing, "I hope I die before I get old."

By Patricia McGuire | February 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Not our ideal

Beauty contests are a throwback to an era when girls and women were supposed to look a certain way, walk with hips swaying just so, talk in a vaguely vacuous style that would never threaten a man's intellectual sense of himself.

By Patricia McGuire | February 8, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Experience counts

Competitive experience provides an advantage not only in sports, but in most professional endeavors as well. Most teams that have ever played in the Super Bowl lost on their first visit. But Saints can make miracles happen!

By Patricia McGuire | February 4, 2010; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)


Nobody really needs an iPad. Steve Jobs knows that. But he knows that some of us will really want one.

By Patricia McGuire | February 1, 2010; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (1)

One-hit wonders

In politics, like entertainment (sometimes they're hard to distinguish), rapid celebrity is common -- think Sarah Palin or Adam Lambert. America craves the latest new thing,

By Patricia McGuire | January 25, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Behind the facade

Jean's fame suggests that he should strive for a greater arms-length relationship with Yele Haiti in order to protect his reputation and the trust of his fans and donors.

By Patricia McGuire | January 21, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

The struggle continues

This is not a misprint: The United States is tied with Turkmenistan in 71st place on an international list of the percentage of women in the national legislature -- 16.8 percent.

By Patricia McGuire | January 18, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Smart risks, dumb risks

A risk-taker may chart a course against the wind with a specific goal in mind, but a gambler throws caution to the winds and hopes for the best. Hope is not a strategy.

By Patricia McGuire | January 14, 2010; 12:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Stop whining!

The kind of "job dissatisfaction" that the recent Conference Board study reports is emblematic of the modern American culture of complaint, where no slight, whether real or perceived, is too small to blow up into a world class grievance.

By Patricia McGuire | January 11, 2010; 12:06 AM ET | Comments (1)

A winning attitude

Success is not always about winning. Zorn kept his cool. He handled adversity, embarrassment, second-guessing, poor player performance with class and graciousness. He never lashed out.

By Patricia McGuire | January 7, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Mindless prejudice

People make unspoken decisions about others all the time that are based on height, weight, skin color and gender. And let's be honest: There usually are no repercussions so long as they don't leave a paper trail.

By Patricia McGuire | January 3, 2010; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mind games

Resolutions are a mind game, a trick we play on ourselves to try to achieve some level of personal transformation.

By Patricia McGuire | December 30, 2009; 04:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Needing Santa

Adults say that they keep the Santa myth alive for the children, but, truth be told, adults really keep Santa alive for themselves.

By Patricia McGuire | December 21, 2009; 12:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

The 'boy problem'

It's no secret that coeducation raised the standards for admission in many formerly male institutions. The men should have taken their studies more seriously.

By Patricia McGuire | December 17, 2009; 04:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

American amnesia

Our "nation of immigrants" has forgotten its immigrant history. This dangerous amnesia will delay the full assimilation of Latinos into American society.

By Patricia McGuire | December 14, 2009; 09:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting even

The trick is not avoiding failure, but rather, learning how to treat each setback as a learning experience, not a catastrophe.

By Patricia McGuire | December 10, 2009; 01:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

A crashing icon

Tiger Woods can't have it both ways, demanding a "right to be left alone" even as he expects the cash to keep flowing his way.

By Patricia McGuire | December 7, 2009; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (5)

Slipping in

Rather than focusing on the gate crashers, talk about the legitimate guest list and why people of achievement were invited to the White House.

By Patricia McGuire | December 3, 2009; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Business genius

Oprah has that elusive quality called "charisma" -- and she leverages that appeal shrewdly to advance her business interests.

By Patricia McGuire | November 30, 2009; 12:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Making the case

"Thanksgiving" marries two important words -- "thanks" for the great charity that has been, and "giving" again to sustain the work that must continue.

By Patricia McGuire | November 23, 2009; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

From setbacks to comebacks

My students have not simply survived, but triumphed over conditions that could have defeated more timid souls.

By Patricia McGuire | November 19, 2009; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

The right fit

Many successful people have elements of both styles in their repertoire, choosing the most effective communication mode for whatever circumstances they face.

By Patricia McGuire | November 16, 2009; 09:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lotteries, Lou Gehrig and life

Success does not come through luck, although being able to take advantage of coincidental opportunities is a great skill to cultivate.

By Patricia McGuire | November 12, 2009; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

It's so relative ...

Parents have immense influence on the ability of siblings to cope with the inevitable unequal distribution of success. Parents who repeatedly praise one child's success while implying that other children are slackers can be responsible for years of therapy bills, to say nothing of countless unpleasant holiday dinners.

By Patricia McGuire | November 9, 2009; 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Through the glass ceiling

My success depends on my ability to figure out how to get through that glass ceiling to be part of the action on the other side.

By Patricia McGuire | November 5, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Happy in your own skin

The most successful people are happy in their own skin, confident in their abilities and choices, caring little for acclaim or possessions. For them, success means doing a great job each day, keeping promises, telling the truth, staying faithful to commitments even in tough times.

By Patricia McGuire | November 2, 2009; 12:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company