June 01, 2017

By Angela Burrows

Nearly 15 years before Jonathan Green was selected as president of Susquehanna University, a Sweet Briar College colleague saw leadership qualities in him that he had honed as a musical conductor.

President Jonathan Green

Jonathan, also a composer, arranger and member of the music faculty, had just been appointed acting dean of the college and he felt ill prepared. At first skeptical of his colleague’s assessment, it didn’t take him long to see his training and experience were not only relevant, but invaluable.

Turns out, time management skills, strategic planning, listening skills and the ability to triage situations are equally important to conducting and management. But the most transferable skill is letting your players play, says Jonathan, who became Susquehanna’s 15th president on July 1.

“This is about more than just not micromanaging. It is creating an environment that allows collective artistry to flourish, which results in a much richer product than the dictates of an individual, no matter how talented he or she may be.”

That first administrative appointment in 2003 was followed by Jonathan’s eight years as dean of the college and vice president of academic affairs atexperience-and then enrolled in a doctorate program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in 1992, taught advanced conducting at UNC Greensboro and served as an assistant professor at Elon College (now Elon University) before joining the Sweet Briar faculty in 1996.

Jonathan and Lynn left Sweet Briar and the hills of Virginia for the Illinois prairie when he accepted the IWU position. They’ve spent the past six years in Bloomington-Normal, Ill., twin cities with a combined population of about 130,000. Two hours south of Chicago and two-and-a-half hours north of St. Louis, Bloomington-Normal is a hub of civilization surrounded by miles of soil-rich farmland.

Although they are looking forward to living “back East” and being closer to family (she’s a native of upstate New York), Jonathan says that in addition to missing friends and colleagues, he’ll miss the breadth of the prairie.

Loves His Work

Those who knew and worked with Jonathan at both IWU and Sweet Briar describe him as incredibly bright, knowledgeable, supportive, direct, very student-centered, and having a great sense of humor.

“He really digs his work,” says Frank Boyd, IWU’s associate provost. “He enjoys the enterprise of higher education, the students and his work with colleagues. He is very supportive. The best way to get to know Jonathan is to ask him what his thoughts are, rather than drawing inferences. Ask for time with him. Talk with him.”

An excellent listener, Jonathan is receptive to advice. He may not always agree, but “with Jonathan, you always feel heard,” says IWU’s athletic director Mike Wagner, one of Jonathan’s direct reports.

“Our loss is Susquehanna’s gain. He will be engaged; he will open his door and be very welcoming. He has that kind of personality. He has a way of putting people at ease.”

Karla Carney-Hall, IWU’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, calls Jonathan the most student-centered provost she’s known. “He is supportive of students’ intellectual journey and also has a sense of fun. He’s creative and warm and all in for events.”

Patti Henderson, who served as Jonathan’s office manager at IWU, agrees, adding that the two worked hard but also had fun. Henderson jokes that she so enjoyed working with him that when he announced he would be leaving IWU, she chose to move on to another position rather than stay to “break in” a new provost.