Joshua Landau, PhD, Named Recipient of 2021 York College Professional Service and Leadership Award
Joshua Landau, PhD
Associate Provost, Student Success
York College of Pennsylvania
Great leaders operate in gray areas where the parameters are unclear and likely changing quickly. The best leaders I have worked with taught me to make thoughtful decisions in the context of short- and long-term goals, staffing, and the availability of resources. As we have seen in the past 17 months, the real test of a leader is how they react when faced with significant challenges, like a pandemic. This is when real leaders emerge and show their skills by steadying the ship, charting a course forward, and then executing a plan to move forward. Leaders constantly learn and look to others to share expertise. That’s why it is best to surround yourself with smart, motivated people and then support them so they can do their best work.
Joshua “Josh” Landau, PhD, Associate Provost for Student Success, came to York College 24 years ago in 1997 to teach and research human memory. Over his many years of service and leadership to the College, he has witnessed the growth and success of countless students and colleagues. He says, “I enjoy seeing students experience success, whether it was in the classroom in my teaching years or these days when I see a student overcome a rough start to their academic career.” His dedication to leadership with the College is what makes him this year’s Professional Service and Leadership Award recipient.
The Professional Service and Leadership Award is presented each year to a faculty member or administrator who has served the College community with great vision and distinction, and who has demonstrated the highest qualities and characteristics of leadership in the completion of his or her professional responsibilities.
When Landau was raising his family, they lived right behind the College, so the campus became a second home to them. “My wife, Beth, and I thought this was a nice place to raise our two children, Joe and Hannah,” he says. “They [his children] learned to ride bicycles in the parking lots here and later I taught them to drive in the Engineering lot.”
As the Associate Provost for Student Success, Landau has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students—especially those struggling. “Given that I work in Student Success, I encounter new situations and need to examine them from different angles,” he shares. “Each student has their own goals (and challenges), and I see it as our job to help them navigate college so they are successful when they leave. In my view, earning a degree is not the end of the pathway; it is just one important part of the journey.”
Landau and his team are responsible for selecting the Marshall Scholarship recipient—a scholarship awarded to a student struggling academically in an effort to help get them back on track. “The Marshalls, who are incredibly generous and enthusiastic supporters of YCP, have created a scholarship for students who struggled during their first year,” explains Landau. “We thoroughly review student records in the academic advising office to identify one student each year who has begun to turn things around, but would benefit greatly from the Marshalls’ financial support. This is a win on all fronts. Not only do we get to support students, but we get to interact with the Marshalls who selflessly provide an educational opportunity for students.”
With the pandemic drastically changing the way campus operated over the last year and a half, the Student Success Division quickly made changes to stay connected and serve the needs of York College students. For Landau, this past year has taught him to be patient and make well-thought-out decisions. “In my interim role as Dean of Student Development and Campus Life, I was directly involved in the decision-making regarding COVID-19 issues,” he says. “There were many times this year when we had to weigh time-sensitive information that was important to our students’ overall health and safety. At times, the information changed daily and we had to carefully process it and make (sometimes unpopular) decisions that put campus health and safety ahead of other competing desires.”
Looking ahead to the Fall 2021 Semester, Landau sees the opportunity to get back to some pre-pandemic normalcy on campus. He is focusing on assisting students to come out of the stress of the pandemic and get back to focusing on their individual futures. “I think that we need to consider that students have just been through a very difficult time,” he says. “For many, their goals essentially shifted from careers and advanced degrees to making it through the pandemic. I want to help them focus on interacting with others, getting away from pandemic worries, and returning their energy to making plans toward graduation and beyond.”