President, Queens College
Muyskens, who holds a Masters in Divinity, has written extensively on ethics in health care.
What one factor is most important to success?
Hiring people who are smarter than you are.
What do you look for in an employee?
I look for someone who is intelligent, but just as important is someone who learned who to play well with others. If you have people constantly annoying others, you spend your time cleaning up messes rather than moving forward. Third is finding someone who can really think outside the box.
What’s the best way to save money?
Again, to hire really good people, to have people all understand what the mission is clearly so you don’t spend money on things that are not mission related. You also want to bring people in on brainstorming to get their ideas.
What’s the best way to spend money?
The best way to spend money is to be sure you have a very clear plan and agree on the kinds of risk you want to take. When you are trying to do something new and different it is best to have everybody understand the vision that is motivating you to take that risk.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
My greatest pleasure in life is really being with family and friends, eating a good dinner, good relaxation and seeing people enjoy themselves.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
The first think I do is check the weather, then I do some stretching exercises and get ready to go to work
How do you deal with stress?
I think I’ve learned pretty well to compartmentalize things. I don’t take the stress of work home, nor do I take stress of family, like if someone is ill, to work In my own career I’ve been able to read a lot of philosophy. I read the Stoics, who were excellent in helping you have perspective. They showed that in the larger scheme of things most problems were pretty small. It helps keep things in perspective. So many of the things you might think at this point seem overwhelming, over the course of life you see how small they are and you laugh at them later.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
I guess the main thing is a sense of integrity. The important thing is being forthright and genuine with people. It is far more important how you play the game than if you win or lose.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
I think I’ve always been so busy at so many things to do, it’s just a matter of taking on the next item on the to-do list, going on and trying not to look back.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
I love the diversity of Queens. We lived in Queens some years ago, and we moved away for 14 years. When we came back three years ago we go to see how Queens has grown and how the various groups work together better and better all the time.
James L. Muyskens became the ninth president of Queens College in 2002 after having served as CEO and Dean of the Faculty for the Gwinnett University Center/University System of Georgia.
Dr. Muyskens’ senior-level and extensive administrative experience includes serving as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University System of Georgia which includes 205,000 students and 80,000 faculty members on 34 campuses. As part of the university system management team from 1995 to 1999, he implemented a new system-wide undergraduate core curriculum, higher admissions and academic standards, and enhanced faculty and staff development opportunities.
From 1984 to 1987 he served as Associate Provost and Acting Provost at Hunter College and spearheaded a revision of the undergraduate curriculum, among other efforts. Dr. Muyskens also served as chairman of Hunter College’s Department of Philosophy and Director of the Religion Program.
A graduate of Central College in Iowa, he also earned a Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. His publications include many on ethics, especially for health care providers, including Moral Problems in Nursing: A Philosophical Investigation published in 1982. Two chapters were reprinted in 1990 in Ethics in Nursing: An Anthology.