Dianne Lynch, President, Stephens College
AGE: 53 YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: (Almost) four months HOMETOWN: Madison, Wis.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin and doctorate from McGill University in Montreal
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: United Way Board, Rotary South.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I worked as a journalist for many years, including stints with USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor and ABCNews.com; I was the founding executive director of the national Online News Association. Simultaneously, I have devoted the past 20 years of my life to higher education, as a faculty member and then as an administrator.
A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: There are so many — and I’ve only been here since June! I would have to include Steve Erdel at Boone County National Bank; Craig Van Matre, a local attorney and a member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees; Nikki Krawitz, vice president for finance and administration at the University of Missouri System and a Stephens board member; and Teresa Maledy, another Stephens board member and the president and CEO of Commerce Bank. All four are truly among the most impressive people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. They are deeply committed to the well-being of the community. They are insightful, analytical and effective problem-solvers; they contribute their time, talent and effort to projects beyond their own organizations.
WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: Stephens is an extraordinary institution with a rich history and a bright future. Its faculty are exceptionally dedicated and student-centered; its students love the college and understand the unique value of a Stephens education; and its staff work harder and accomplish more — with less — than any group of colleagues I’ve ever had. As a professional who cares deeply about the transformative possibilities of higher education, and as a woman whose own life has been shaped by the strong, brilliant and caring women around me, I can’t imagine a better place to work.
IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: Be looking for this job.
BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: I decided at the age of 41 to go back to graduate school to study the social identity development of digital natives — kids who grow up on the Internet. I had four children of my own — three teens and an infant. I was a full-time faculty member and department chair. I was writing a national column for ABCNews.com. And I had to commute about 150 miles over an international border to Montreal in order to do it. But I was fascinated by the subject, and I was ready to take on an intellectual challenge. It was well worth it.
A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: I was very involved in the development of an “early college high school” program back in Ithaca; we were partnering with the Global Media Arts High School in Rochester to provide opportunities for minority and underserved students in the city to begin to consider themselves “college ready.” It was a very long-term project that engaged students from about fifth grade through college graduation, and it had huge potential to make a real difference in the lives of many of these students. I was sorry to leave it behind.
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: Teaching is the most inspiring, exhausting and important profession in the world. It requires an almost magical combination of intelligence, integrity, organizational skill, motivation, public speaking, personality and diligence; and it garners far less respect in our culture than it deserves. Higher-ed administration — at its best — is dedicated to providing the best environment, opportunity and support for excellent teaching.
WHAT I DO FOR FUN: I spend time with my family.
FAMILY: My amazing husband, Philip, has followed me from Vermont to New York to Missouri; he’s a poet, a parent and an inspiration. We have four children: Drew, 28; Amelia, 26; Nick, 24; and Annie, 11.
FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: Stephens College, of course!
ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Raising my children to be independent, creative, engaged adults (and one of the most opinionated, strong-willed and independent 11-year-olds you ever met).
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I… Am a vegetarian.