Upland searches for a new kind of administrative leader
By Marian Douglas | Echo
The town of Upland is changing the way it handles town management.
“We kept the job title (of Town Manager) but changed the job description,” Vice President of Upland’s town council Chip Jaggers said.
The role of Town Manager is explained in chapter five of Indiana’s Code of Law, but the law leaves the duties of the town
manager relatively open-ended. Town Managers are responsible for administrative duties of the town, and they must attend town meetings. Everything else, including term length of the Town Manager, is left up to the discretion of the Town Council.
Upland aims to bring in new businesses and strengthen communication throughout the town. Because of this, the Council decided to revamp the responsibilities of the Town Manager to help the town better achieve its goals.
In the past, Upland employed what Jaggers referred to as a “traditional Town Manager.” The leaders who held this position had few duties beyond those strictly outlined by the Code of Laws. This largely meant handling infrastructure issues, including making decisions about when town maintenance would occur and deciding whom to hire to perform this maintenance.
The Town Manager position has been vacant since Chip Long retired over two years ago. Long had served in the role for more than a decade. His retirement and the decision to leave the job open for a while gave the Council a chance to update the Town Manager job description.
The new job description, which can be found on Upland’s website, focuses more on finding a growth-oriented leader who will help Upland’s citizens become more passionate about developing the town. Specifically, the description calls for someone with experience in administrative leadership who has excellent communication skills and a self-starting drive to get things done.
“We want to advance the town, so we felt we needed a different type of leader—more externally focused than internally focused,” Jaggers said.
According to Jaggers, the town manager will be a member of a group which chiefly works to keep lines of communication open between Upland’s government and the businesses and institutions located in town.
Taylor University’s Vice President for Business Administration Ron Sutherland, whom Jaggers referred to as Taylor’s point person for communications with Upland, serves as a vice president of this group. The Council hopes the new Town Manager will work closely with Sutherland, building new connections between Taylor and the town of Upland.
Jaggers mentioned that this connection could lead to grants co-sponsored between Taylor and Upland as well as help attract more businesses to the area. “We’re just stronger together than we are as two separate entities,” he said.
Twenty-six people have applied for the job; its application has been open since January of this year. While many of these people are well-qualified for the position and the Town Council is considering their applications, the application deadline has been extended according to Jaggers. The job description originally called for applicants to be available for the job starting April 1.
The council views finding the new Town Manager as the most important decision it has made in the last twenty years.“We want to make sure we have the perfect person because of the importance of this position to the future of Upland as well as the future of our relationship with Taylor,” Jaggers said.
The Council now plans to choose the Town Manager by the middle of May. If this happens, then the new Town Manager will officially begin working in early June. The application will remain open until further notice.