Introduced by Glenn Hansen.
I’m not your traditional candidate for this kind of job. After my military career, I went to IBM. Fundamentally, I am a leader. I have had the privilege of leading teams through all kinds of missions and helping them come together.
What does 3 star admiral mean? I was second woman ever to make 3 stars. I learned what it takes to persist and succeed, as individual and as team.
White House Fellow, worked at highest level with government leadership, national and local level. At Great Lakes, was 2 star commander. I relieved a commander who was fired, where every metric for that command was going the wrong way. Three times I have been asked by the Navy to take over for commanders who were fired.
Hybrid experience. I am in non-profit work, for-profit. Have led national defense university. Have been on accreditation boards. As trainer have worked with Gen X and Millennials, and trained trainers. What does IBM bring? Learned about private sector, artificial intelligence.
COD is a nontraditional school, and I am a nontraditional candidate. My body of work is a calling for this college, and that is why I am here. I want to give everything I have and all that I am to COD.
Give example of leadership in turnaround situation.
Closest analogy is Great Lakes. Fired commander had misspent money and built buildings instead of training sailors. First thing is to establish trust. I am here for the team, for the mission. Then listen, listen, listen. Everybody wants to do the right thing. Accreditation related to acceptance of sailors being trained, faculty, and curriculum. Constantly stressed that if you do not agree with something, bring me the facts, bring me the data. Team did great because they wanted to do well, they were the people who knew the answers, had a will and desire to make Great Lakes a fabulous place. They found their legs. Within a year and a half, everything going the right direction, fantastic success across the board.
What is your role as president in philanthropy and donor cultivation?
Belief in what we’re doing. Performance. The numbers have to got to show that we’re doing it. People don’t give unless you perform. Then you have to ask – give good will first, then the money will come. Can be more complicated depending on the donor. Are we a good value for taxpayer dollars? If we are already good stewards of the money we already have, then show what we do above and beyond. The noble act of learning is worthy of your money. We’re going to help people survive, thrive and contribute. Starts every day, we’re doing something successful and noble. For every student here there is a story. Would you like to be part of us? Have done fundraising for many institutions.
Why COD and where can you be the biggest agent for change?
It’s a calling. My body of work is this kind of work. I have spent my career training and teaching people how to get to the next level, and being part of that myself. I came here twice incognito on weekends. Today I came early and walked around. I bought an organic oatmeal cookie from the nurses bake sale. This is what I have done, who I am, applied learning. My doctorate is in applied research and how it affects policy. What I can bring, it’s about you. If you are successful then I have contributed. If every faculty is better than the year before, then I am contributing. My contributions are tied to the success of everyone here. My leadership style is service. I serve you, that is my contribution. My mission is to make things right. I have covenant leadership – my obligation to you, and our obligations to the learning experience. On any given day, my interest is in your success and all students and faculty.
What is the primary role of the college administration and how is it distinct from the role of faculty?
This is a team sport. They both come into play to helping students succeed. We all have teaching missions. I was talking to someone here today, asked for one dream, he said that the college would be as efficient as we ask the students to be. This is not either/or. Cannot run a college of this size and importance. Administrations are the foundation and the faculty are the spire. The core is the learning experience, all doing it together. Both can help in terms of managing scarce resources. How do we admins and faculty come together to make sure the best value for the taxpayer’s dollar. Believe fundamentally in shared governance and transparency. Can’t hold anyone accountable who is in the dark. I make decisions, but not alone.
Relationships/partnerships with community
Consciousness of college that sees itself as regional center of excellence for learning. Not just about community college specific, but in the larger sense, contribute to community. Intellectual life of democracy. CC’s are brilliant for their access – everyone respected as learner and as a doer. Serve everyone in the best way possible. Education, arts, what makes this particular institution the light and the luster. Educate for good value and nice price. Public obligation to CC that has more intimacy, more accountability, different from state universities. When it hurts, we hurt. When it celebrates, we celebrate. Electrician, food service, faculty, dean, security guy – all are intimate to us. Intimacy of activity and knowledge are inspiring, connected to fundamental belief in democracy of education. Still about teaching people trades. This is a place where knowledge is engaged in an intimate way.
Experience w/ accrediting bodies, first steps to address probation letter.
Have been president of college going thru accreditation, have been on four accreditation boards, active in HLC. Accreditation is hard, wonderful for self-examination, to learn new things about ourselves. Probation is hard. Due diligence is going to be tiring. Have to manage our time and energies and be efficient. But it’s not work we cannot do. Marvelous example to our students that we can pass the exam. Confident that with all the people who are here, everyone wants to bring back the luster of the college. Team sport. Everybody has to put on their helmet and shoulder-pads and this is doable. This is work we know, no surprises. Confident, show them resilience and excellence.
Describe experiences w/ evaluating admins and tenured faculty and how dealt with under-performing personnel.
This is what leaders do. There has to be due process and due diligence. Standards and expectation, no secrets about this. I have hired and fired, and in every case it has helped. Have to be careful to set people up to succeed. Preparation is important for hiring, knowing what you need. One of board’s main jobs is to be involved in succession planning. Big believer in a mixture of faculty, tenured, full time, and adjunct. Faculty process of peerage. Peer reviews and peer judgments are very difficult. I would ask them to help me, and I would help them. Quality of conversation, every school is different, all have their own gestalt. Faculty themselves need to have a conversation about their peers. That’s why standards up front are so important. Taxpayers paying our salary, donors, have to show them we are doing our job. Fairness, patience. I have never known a faculty tenure issue that killed somebody. These are important, but take your time to understand what’s going on.
Support services are in great demand, research suggests need for high expectations for students.
Student services are different here than at a residential school. Constantly stay open to pulse, understand needs. Services is the key word, you have to know what the need is. Need to have constant sensing in various kinds of ways. Walking around, having surveys, online feedback. People will tell us what they need, if we understand then we can make adjustments. We have special needs, they are perfectly great. Working adults, we live this every day here, life has all kinds of demands on us. Student services, help that student succeed, make learning experience as quality as possible. Health, cultures, we need to adapt. Student Services needs to be in partnership with faculty. Faculty know what’s going on. Be hand in hand, the reason we’re all here is students. What is complex is the delivery of the services – the philosophy is clear.
Military resume… what are the differences between the military experiences and the college?
In the military, we take young people who are volunteers. We owe that person training and confidence/competence, and they owe us back our service. HVAC, firefighters, medics, mechanics, corpsmen, pre-meds, have overseen curriculum. People who have not been accustomed to school and learning, help them succeed. Anecdote about conversation with aircraft mechanic who learned how to swim, realized he could learn anything. We’re teaching the same cohort in the same parts of their lives, doing the same things. Instilling in each one that no matter what they know today, they have the capacity to know more tomorrow. We can make every person have more self-respect, more self-respect, more dignity. Completely parallel. Teaching in teams, we train the people who come in behind us, legacy and future come in behind us, in tandem. The privilege of helping to lead that would be extraordinary.
Would you include a diversity implementation model for the organization?
Not sure what that entails. First, I am walking diversity. Came into the navy when women didn’t, learned how to deal in that environment. Also served on many diversity task forces and panels. Had troubling times in race relations. Trauma taught us to move forward. We did a lot of work with how to bring diversity into the navy. Measurable and measured. Worst thing to do is plop people in with preparing them for success. I’m all for it, with the caveat that we need to understand how it looks and how it’s measured. Too many places say we have diversity, but it’s vacuous. There has to be a plan to aspire, and a program to perspire.
One college strength to build on, and one weakness to improve on.
Second one first, an odd answer but it hit me in reading latest budget report and SWOT diagram. In threats column, increased demand for accountability. By itself, that says something on its face, but it really says we’re afraid. I would tell you that accountability is opportunity, move to the other quadrant. We should be confident that we can pass any metric. I believe in the COD culture, but the culture is undermined by people not believing in it. We have great things to show. Get us past all the things we gotta get past, and get to the place where people say, look at what they did. Wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in this. I don’t need to do this. I want to do this. So strength is, we are COD.
One of the things I like about CCs is that they are not allergic to partnerships with businesses. It’s good for the students, so it’s good for us. Create reserve of goodwill. Can’t create it overnight, there will always be another crisis. Teaching moment for students to show them how we do this.
Accomplishments by 4-year mark
Athletic championships. Faculty recognized by Amer Assoc of CCs. Aspen Award. We can do everything great. Everything we are intended to do well. Efficient in energy uses. If our faculty are doing well, not just teaching, but help them study more and be current in their disciplines. If anyone is feeling they’re on a good path, the school will be on a good path, we will come up with answers together. Have to do more listening, I need to know more. Strategic plan is ok, but could it be better? Not just my vision, I will carry the vision with you, in the vanguard with you. Story about Comptroller finding $3million to cut from budget, said no had ever asked him before. Good people who are here and not here, everyone can come together and give us good ideas. Leaders set tone, leaders set culture, teams come through with a lot of cool stuff. And win athletic championships.
Strategies for dealing with wrongdoing.
Hesitating. This is a loaded question, and I want to be fair about it. Identity truly the facts, identify root causes, be careful about being fair and right. That is in containment of the activity. But you have to pay attention to echo effects also. Every leader has rules and processes in this space. Must ask good questions, get expert advice, manage the space and do things properly. But space is porous. What happens outside is important. What’s the effects, the damages, how vulnerable is everything else that was touched? Nurture it, heal it, manage it. This is what I have practiced all my professional life. Understand the impact of that act on culture.
HLC criteria = 21 different core components, how create culture that adheres to all?
One of the first things I would do is talk to HLC, find out where they are, translate that to create clarity. Come back to the experts here. Can’t attack all 21 of them at the same time, what are the prime muscle movements that will move other parts of the body? Get experts to help, do it so it comes together, and clarity will keep us from getting exhausted. Governance issue, board, faculty senate. Governance issues to go through, financial, academic. Governance is #1, have to get it right, job of board and president. Do check-off and prioritization. Again, team sport. Do this together. Let’s all agree on the priorities based on HLC guidance. We can show them good things. I need to learn more about each part of it.
What is your most memorable global cultural experience, how reflected in your work and leadership?
I could name hundreds, here are a couple that apply here. I went to Anarctica, flying in, compasses go crazy close to the pole, landing on ice runway with compasses twirling and ice fog, landed fine. Learned a lot about the globe and climate, scientists are fascinating. It was cultural because those guys and gals are down there all the time, and it’s a strange place. Good for me to find out what they are doing for science. In traveling, learned importance of listening and adapting. Different to talk to someone from Japan, Germany, Aussie, someone from China. If I adapted, I could understand more. Lifetime of experiences of doing that kind of travel. Living an anthropology lesson, psychology, culture, deep perceptions. I learned to listen, pay attention, adapt across the board. Worked with unions in Italy, was its own subcultural experience. One of the most interesting things has been learning about all the women in uniform around the world.
What’s your perspective on international students?
Don’t know complete answer, don’t have a full view, I’m all about international students, and it’s good for everybody, but I don’t know about the resources. Who could we serve? There are a lot who have financial needs who want to come here. I would love to have them here but I dno’t have a sense of our capacity. I saw a number of different kinds of students here when I was walking around, it was great.
Describe your experiences with unionized employees including faculty unions.
In Italy, union of skilled tradesman, under Italian law. In U.S. worked with unions on AFB. Different unions vastly different. Lawyers did negotiations. At NDU, title X federal employees, negotiate through HR reps and union reps, done by lawyers. Never sat at a table. Believe completely in collective bargaining. Part of American labor experience. I have a confession, when I was in HS, applied to Cornell to major in labor relations.
What is your approach to student services.
Should work hand in hand with faculty to promote student success, as I have said. Stay modern. What do our students today need, and how do they get it? The sensing and surveying has to be efficient and effective so we can respond.
How will you spend your first day at COD?
Work out first at fitness center. I’d be smiling and just going around to introduce myself. I have been loitering around here twice, amazing how many people say hello here. First day is going around and being joyful, having incredible belief in who we are, incredible sense of privilege in having a job. Every day would be like that, the privilege is what it is. The joyful heart, happy soul, engaged mind, respect. That would be my first day and every day after.
Paul LeFort: Military background: honor, integrity, structure. We all have an image of what military structure is. Talk about management style.
I’m not George S. Patton. I think this an elephant in the room kind of question. In a general sense, structure in military is for managing chaos. War and combat is chaos. Vertical commands give clarity. Structure helps plans, plans help win. The planning and teaming piece is horizontal. Everybody is accountable to share information. Structure is about the faculty handbook, the standards, the syllabuses. For fiduciary responsibility, what the outside holds us accountable for. Honor and integrity are profound. I promise you this. You can count on my integrity and my forthrightness. You can count on my honor. You can count on me. I am accountable for my covenant. In the military, this is a wonderful thing, liberating – you’re not perfect, but you have a perfect aspiration.
I didn’t come with a set ending. What do we believe? about ourselves? Belief will get you through on the hard things. If we believe in what we say we believe in here, this is a place that will be spectacular. Whoever is chosen, the president is only a piece of this. In the end, it’s each of you. Every face that’s here matters. We are as strong as the weakest of us. I would love to be here and would love to be your president. I am privileged to be here this evening. I would love to root for Green Bay out of Chicagoland but most of all to root for you. You’re the athletes who will take you to the championship. Thank you for this honor.