More than two dozen women administrators in higher education joined Nichols President Susan West Engelkemeyer for a Leadership Brunch on September 25th and came away with a wealth of ideas for climbing the ladder in academia.
“Every fall, we set up a breakfast with a different woman president, where women from other institutions come to network and hear that president’s story, explains Susan Wyckoff, the director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Council of Education and the organizer of the gathering on the Nichols campus.
“That story includes her personal and professional past, her mentors, and the lessons she’s learned along the way.”
Engelkemeyer did not disappoint on those fronts, basing her advice on what she termed the “Six P’s”: passion, planning, perseverance, performance, play, and positive attitude.
When it comes to performance, the Nichols president counseled, “Results matter. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If your manager doesn’t hold you to performance goals, set your own and communicate them.”
“Consider what brings you joy,” the Nichols president continued, as she extolled the virtues of play. “Surprisingly, even as an equestrian, a hobby I love, I have learned a few lessons in leadership,” she said. “For example, the importance of focusing beyond the jump, of applying firm and steady pressure to the horse, and being willing to adapt to the horse’s reactions.”
Passion represents the bottom line for any career, Engelkemeyer emphasized. “If you don’t love what you’re doing, do something else,” she said.
“She exemplifies what we’re trying to achieve,” Wyckoff says of Engelkemeyer, now in her second year at the helm of Nichols. “She was very specific about what she believes it takes to get up that ladder, and there were a lot of takeaways for the women in the room.”
The administrators who attended the brunch hold positions at colleges and universities throughout central and eastern Massachusetts. Their jobs range from interim president, assistant provost, and vice president for academic affairs to dean, associate dean, and athletic director.
Among the schools represented were several members of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, including The College of the Holy Cross and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
More than a dozen academic leaders—from Roxbury Community College and the Boston University Medical Campus to Wentworth Institute of Technology and Pine Manor College—travelled to Nichols from the eastern part of the state.
“Most had not seen the Nichols campus,” observed Wyckoff, who also serves as the Worcester Consortium’s vice president for academic affairs. “I know how Dudley looks in the fall. What a beautiful way it was to kick off the academic year.”