Jean Goodnow

Jean Goodnow

Delta College President

When Dr. Jean Goodnow started her first job as a president in higher education she faced a person who thought that she couldn't handle the job because she was a woman. He thought that she wouldn't know how to read a budget, handle a master key (he actually thought that she would lose them!), negotiate salary contracts with faculty, or keep the college accredited. Goodnow proved him wrong on all these points, but her experience is one that is still faced by women. Routinely, women are judged not as capable as their male peers. Although the numbers are higher than ever, women are still underrepresented in the highest positions of administration. In the early 1990s only 10% of college presidents were female; in 2011, women comprised 26%. (Young Kim and Bryan Cook, Diversity at the Top: the American College President 2012, American Council on Education). As Dr. Goodnow shows though, women can make it to the chief executive office…and should. Here is some advice from Dr. Goodnow on how to achieve your goal of being a college president, as well as some articles on the subject.

The Importance of Community

Dr. Jean Goodnow, President of Delta College in University Center, MI, stresses the importance of having good mentors. Goodnow was privileged to have many mentors that helped her along during her career, including Dr. Caroline Desjardins and her grandmother. Goodnow sought training for women in higher education and joined organizations such as the American Association of Women in Community Colleges to form a supportive community. She also has worked to promote women who want to advance in higher education by collaborating with other colleges to offer a conference, "The Way Up." Goodnow has participated in conferences where female mentors talk to other women about dealing with the media, negotiating with unions, working with legislators, and other aspects of a college presidency. Her advice to young women who are starting out is to first and foremost—find a career that is exciting for you. At every level of her education, Goodnow had certain professors who inspired her—seek out others that you can relate to and who inspire you. Find your own support system. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Goodnow's success is the direct result of her hard work and persistence—be focused, driven, persistent, and hard-working. Get involved and volunteer your time.  And lastly, take care of yourself.  Goodnow enjoys reading; find a healthy area of release for you and let yourself relax.

Lucy Lapovsky, "Why So Few Women College Presidents?" Forbes (April, 2014)

David Moltz, "What Women (Presidents) Want" Inside Higher Ed (March, 2011)

Jack Stripling, "Survey Finds a Drop in Minority Presidents Leading Colleges" The Chronicle of Higher Education (March, 2012)