Dr. Kay Albertson
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 6, 2007 1:46 PM
Since taking over the reigns as the first female president at Wayne Community College one month ago, Dr. Kay Albertson has almost needed track shoes to keep up the hectic pace her schedule requires.
Just a few of the hurdles she has already run include filling positions, making decisions that range from budgeting needs to academic endeavors, speaking engagements and attending her first president's and board of trustees meetings.
But for Dr. Albertson, being female isn't even a consideration.
Her long-held philosophy has been more about servant leadership, describing it as "feeling good about giving other people an opportunity to do things that they never thought they could do before."
She prides herself on being in a position to give hope and said she doesn't take the college's motto about "growing futures" lightly.
"It's a characteristic of women who have reached some plateau ... where we recognize how many things we can do and do well," she said. "It has nothing to do with gender, but if you're going to assume leadership roles, you do it with grace and take every experience as a learning experience.
"That's what I do -- I'm going to learn something every single day."
While historically women have had lots of struggles, she said that is not a place she chooses to dwell.
In the last 10 years, there has been a lot of growth which fortunately, she said, has resulted in more people being recognized for their capabilities rather than whether they are male or female.
"Human nature is competitive, human nature does compare, but if you're confident in who you are and what you do, you just move forward and you don't take anything personally," she said. "Keep your focus, value your goals and build your resources. Don't worry about where you began but where you'll end."
At the same time, she is keenly aware that her background at the college has enabled her to hit the ground running in the new position.
"Had I had to come in and learn the institution, it would have been prolonged," she said. "I can start those processes and activities immediately because I already know what resources to use. That's exciting."
She readily shares credit with those she now leads.
"I truly attribute much to the fact that this is an institution of integrity and hard work, and the faculty and staff are continuing to do their jobs at every level. There are simply things I don't have to worry about," she said.
A vision for any organization must be developed by a number of people, not just its chief, Dr. Albertson said.
"Some of my goals that I believe will fit into that vision, were created by an imminent challenge to make sure that we have the faculty and the staff in place who will continue the fine legacy at this institution," she said.
With 33 percent of employees at the college boasting 25-plus years there, it's in line with the nationwide "graying of America," Dr. Albertson said.
Wayne County, like others around the country, have an aging population. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is but one example that produces retirees.
It's important to target and market that, Dr. Albertson said.
"I don't think we have tapped that baby boom generation to its full advantage," she said. "It's not as simple as it sounds. You have to adapt it for people."
Herself a "baby boomer," she said she understands the climate and has been working on programs toward that end. One of those is to have an internal leadership program, a grow your own program that will be kicked off in October.
"There could be employees that have never thought about an opportunity to retrain, train in a different area, never thought about moving to a different level, and this is that opportunity for them to say, 'Yes,' to actually train to do something different or add on to their own skill set," she said.
Another idea involves educating seniors on non-profit management and giving back to the community.
State and federal funding for such programs will be beneficial, especially considering seniors are tuition-exempt and revenue is needed to run the college.
"We're going to have to be much more aggressive in seeking funds from external sources besides those who typically fund us," Dr. Albertson said. "It's the only way to grow if you're going to sustain the kinds of programs that we need."
From where she now sits, the future looks bright. It is an exhilarating time for the college she calls "a major player in the community and its cultural world."
At the end of the day, she said, it is all about "giving back to the community, whether it be improvement to students' lives so that they can have greater earning power and feel better about themselves and then in turn give back. And they do, economically and personally.
"Seeing smiles of faculty and staff's faces whenever you talk about a new idea that they may have and you say, 'Let's go forward and try it."
The college's new president is looking forward to not only her personal growth, but what she and the Wayne Community College staff can do together.
"I think it may be even more enjoyable to mentor from this seat," she said. "The bottom line is always about building relationships -- servant leadership -- and listening to ideas.
"I'm at a very good place in my life where I have had the experience, I have had the relationships and mentorships. I'm at the point where I can be confident in my skills and also know you don't ever do it by yourself. It's about the whole. I like that feeling. It's a very comforting feeling."
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