Julia Sutedjo and Dean Corsi

Blog: Stepping Up with Dean Corsi

My name is Julia Sutedjo, and I am a second-year biomedical engineering major from Long Beach, California. I was interested in the Leadership Job Shadow Program, which randomly assigns students to an administrator at the University of California, Davis, because I hoped to gain insight into leadership and the motivation behind it. 

Julia Sutedjo and Dean Corsi
From left: Julia Sutedjo and Dean Corsi engage in conversation during a pit stop. (Adrianna Owens/UC Davis)

It was exciting to shadow the dean of the College of Engineering, Richard L. Corsi, who joked that I picked an "easy" day to shadow him, even though his day was absolutely packed. From sitting in on the Dean's Distinguished Speaker event to speaking with faculty members and campus leaders to interviewing faculty candidates, this day in the life of Dean Corsi really gave me an inside look at how a leader carries on throughout their day. 

One of the most commendable characteristics of Dean Corsi was his ability to engage with scholars of different levels, like alumni, faculty members and undergraduate students alike. Throughout the day, Dean Corsi showed a remarkable feature of a good leader: his skill to remember everyone's name, making him a personable authority.  

I initially thought the life of a dean would be enclosed in an office space giving out assignments and doing paperwork. However, he told me he loved to walk around our beautiful campus wherever he could. Sure enough, he brought me along in one of his walks. Along the way, he continued to welcome and greet campus community members while introducing me to them. I walked twice the number of steps I usually get in one day! Still, I was very thankful for not only getting the exercise but the opportunity to see the dean in action. 

Before the meeting, I was suggested to consider some challenges affecting undergraduate students like me and discuss them with the dean. As we chatted about these, I quickly realized that Dean Corsi has to contemplate those, in addition to challenges that also affect graduate students, faculty members and all College of Engineering personnel. The dean shared with me that he has developed plans and initiatives to amplify the college's strengths to shape the best engineering leaders we can. These can be found in the college's Next Level Strategic vision, but the one aspect that struck me the most was the core value: "We are engineering a better world for all."

After this experience with the dean, I have developed a deeper understanding of this value and realized that engineering's sole purpose is not only to better the discipline itself but to improve our society as a whole.  

I highly encourage students to apply to the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program. This experience gave me a more holistic understanding of the dean as a professional leader and his approach to work-life balance, which included invaluable advice about handling various responsibilities. In addition, this is a great opportunity to network and make connections with administrators to understand the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes at our university. 

I am grateful to Dean Corsi for giving me the opportunity to learn about his everyday dynamics and for taking the time to listen to my own experiences as an undergraduate student in the College of Engineering. The last thing I'd want to say is that Dean Corsi walks everywhere, so students, keep your eyes open because you'll never know when you run into him! 

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