Guest Post: Roles of Women in Academic Leadership

Panelists and attendees at the Women's Leadership Council Panel Discussion
Panelists and attendees at the Women’s Leadership Council Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the Women’s Leadership Council of Touro College sponsored a panel discussion entitled, “Roles of Women in Academic Leadership.”  This outstanding event celebrated National Women’s History Month, which is observed during March in recognition of women’s many accomplishments throughout history.  The extraordinary panel featured four Touro College women executives: Vice Presidents Nadja Graff, Eva Spinelli-Sexter, Marian Stoltz-Loike, and Dean Sabra Brock.  I, Dean Donne Kampel, moderated the event.  The five of us came together to describe our career experiences in higher education to a packed audience of women and men from inside and outside of the organization. Many women came to the event to learn more about how to become leaders and perhaps the secrets to success of the women who were discussing their careers.  

As the author of the book entitled, “Learning Leadership: Women Presidents of Colleges and Universities and the founder of the Women’s Leadership Council, this is a topic I am passionate about. Several colleagues and I began the Council in order to advance the careers of women at Touro and to promote a bond between Touro’s female leaders and other women at the college who aspire to lead.

The discussion among and between the four panelists and me was at all times informative, lively, and personal.  We all come from distinctly different backgrounds and career paths.  Two of us spent our entire careers in academe, which is the path most chosen; the other three began in outside fields including banking, business, and healthcare administration.

One of the questions posed to the panel was whether or not they had role models after whom they patterned their careers.  Several of the women identified their parents as their earliest role models.  Mentoring as a means of securing jobs and higher positions was also discussed.  In the field of academe, it has long been said that having mentors can make the difference between a slow journey or a faster passage through the “academic pipeline” (aka career path). I asked the women to describe obstacles that they had faced and how these had been overcome.  Extremely lively discussions centered around how the women had managed their educations, careers, and families, as well as what advice they had for younger women now entering the field.

The panelists and I recognized Touro College as being at the forefront of hiring and promoting women into executive positions.  I lauded this type of forward-thinking, noting that “institutions like Touro College have recognized that what is good for women is also good for America.” Basically, the foremost ideal that makes America unique and a role model around the world is the principle of equality for all, including women.

Contributed by: Donne Kampel, Dean of Faculties

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