Politics, debates and other timely issues are likely to spark controversy and divide public opinion on our respective campuses. How can we encourage students to engage in these conversations with courage, civility, and respect? What role does family, media, pop culture, campus culture, and social media play in forming our truth and beliefs? Are we obligated in our role as educators to set aside our personal opinions, identities, and emotions in discussion of politics and other hot button issues? What are effective “ground rules” for dialogue that facilitate student learning about alternative narratives and perspectives? How do we find the balance between unrestricted free speech and hateful/hurtful speech?

On this episode of Higher Ed Live, host Tony Doody will explore these questions and discuss Widener University’s Common Ground initiative with Dr. Julie E. Wollman (President of Widener University).


Episode Host

Tony Doody

Tony Doody

Tony Doody has over 25 years of practical experience and oversight in senior leadership positions within the Higher Education industry in the areas of Facilities Management, New Student Orientation, Recreation, Parent and Family Programs, Leadership and Training, Marketing and Communications, Adult Learning, and Major Events and Programs. He currently serves as the Director of Student Centers at the University of Delaware. Over the last six years, Tony has presented at over thirty universities and national conferences on topics of innovation, digital leadership, technology, and unconventional leadership. He received the Diamond Honoree Award from the ACPA Foundation, the highest honor of the American College Personnel Association, recognizing transformative contributions to the field (2017) and earned NASPA's 2017 Technology Emerging Practice Award. In addition, Tony has worked over 20 years as a consultant in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, presentation skills, risk-taking, innovation, social media, conflict resolution, and team cohesiveness. Past clients include J&J, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Vistakon, Navigant, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, United Way, Merrill Lynch, Tumi International, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals.


Julie Wollman

For more than 25 years, Dr. Julie E. Wollman has been a passionate, fearless, and effective advocate and leader in higher education. She is the tenth president of Widener University, a role she assumed in January of 2016. Guided by a relentless pursuit of excellence, she has articulated a clear vision and distinct goals for the university focused on providing an unparalleled student experience.

Leading with enthusiasm, authenticity, and a strong respect for others, Dr. Wollman is nationally recognized specifically for her commitment to building community and bringing people from varying perspectives together to engage in conversation. In the fall of 2017, Dr. Wollman launched Common Ground, an ongoing university-wide initiative designed to encourage reasoned civil discourse on challenging topics.

Dr. Wollman serves on the boards of several local, regional, and national organizations, including the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County, an economic development organization, where she serves as Board Vice-President; the Global Philadelphia Association; the Middle Atlantic Conference of the NCAA where she serves as Board Secretary; the Baldwin School; and the American Association of University Administrators. She also chairs the President’s Alliance of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.

Prior to joining Widener University, Dr. Wollman served as president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She holds degrees from Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University, and is a frequent commentator and dynamic speaker on education-related public policy issues, higher education affordability, and leadership, appearing regularly in print, online, and broadcast media outlets.

Dr. Wollman is the recipient of numerous teaching, academic, and professional awards and recognitions. Most recently, she was named by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a “2017 Women of Distinction” and one of its “People to Watch for 2018,” as well as one of Main Line Today magazine’s 2017 “Women on the Move.”