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Career Conversations episode 110

Rick Wernoski: Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

NACUBO’s Christine Simone interviews Rick Wernoski, the associate vice chancellor for operational excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Key Points:

  • 30+ years in higher ed, started as budget analyst and moved up to leadership
  • Passionate about transforming students’ lives through academics and research
  • Recent success creating a K-2 school that boosted literacy and math scores
  • Learned to challenge processes, not just do things because “that’s how it was always done”
  • Great mentors pushed new ideas, best practices, and supported failures
  • Pays it forward mentoring others with honesty, integrity, and trust
  • Says “yes” to new opportunities like teaching and committees
  • Leadership lesson –ensure all voices are at the table and listen first

Overall, Rick emphasizes being open to new experiences outside your comfort zone for growth. His career shows the rewards of starting small in higher ed administration and working your way up over decades.


Insights and advice for business professionals new to higher education.

On Career Conversations, NACUBO’s Christine Simone sits down with higher education professionals to discuss their personal experiences, including successes and challenges of all kinds. They’ll offer career advice and insights as well as nuggets of wisdom for business professionals new to higher education.

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