Jean Goodnow


Jean Goodnow


Higher education president


First female college president in the mid-Michigan area


Amy French


Image: Delta College

Birth Date



Iowa City, Iowa, USA


College president

Biographical Text

Jean Goodnow, Ph.D., is the first female college president in the mid-Michigan region. Growing up on her grandparent's farm in Iowa, Jean Goodnow learned a strong work ethic and compassion for others. Her Grandma and Grandpa Kinney were strong role models. Her grandma always saw the good in people and worked to promote their good traits; her grandpa was a strong and quiet man and Goodnow would help him keep the farm going. Her grandparents were extremely influential in her life, as they reinforced the importance of education and encouraged her to accomplish her goals. Goodnow has an impressive academic career; she earned a BA, MA, and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, a certificate in Presidential Leadership from Harvard University, and has attended numerous professional development seminars, workshops, and conferences. Goodnow's academic track record was one of continual education. She worked the entire time that she was going to school. When she made "one of the best decisions" she has ever made and gave birth to her son, John, she was working full-time and completing her comprehensive exams for a Higher Education Administration.

As a woman coming of age during the Women's Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Goodnow faced sexual discrimination. She worked in factories during the summers of her undergraduate degree and earned a full $2 less per hour than her male co-workers. Goodnow would not let gender discrimination stand in her way though and went on to help other young women find a career path that suited them. With a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Goodnow started her post-baccalaureate life working at a rehabilitation center to help emotionally challenged individuals find a career path in which they would thrive. It was while working there that she started a Master's degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling. She left the center to work with women on government assistance to evaluate their career potential. It was in this position that she first had the opportunity to work with a community college—an experience that would change her life and put her on the higher education trajectory. The president of Kirkwood Community College asked her to work as their Rehabilitation Counselor; she had a challenging case load of 300 students, but was successful in writing grants and moving forward to help Kirkwood establish a developmental education program, competency-based curriculum (which gained national attention), experiential learning, and other programs. Goodnow left administration and went into a faculty position, although she had taught while in her other roles. She left Kirkwood when she was recruited to become the Dean of Students at a three-college district in Iowa. She was then recruited to be a Vice-President at North Iowa Community College. At that point, she knew that she wanted to be community college president. Her goal was achieved in the mid-1990s when she became the first female president at Illinois Valley Community College. When she heard that a position for President of Delta College was open, she applied and successfully obtained the position becoming the first female college president in the mid-Michigan area.


Women In Higher Education website

Diversity at the Top: The American College President 2012

Jana Nidiffer and Carolyn Terry Bashaw, eds., Women Administrators in Higher Education: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001).

Mimi Wolverton, Beverly Bower, and Adrienne Hyle, Women at the Top: What Women University and College Presidents Say About Effective Leadership (Stylus Publishing, 2008).


Goodnow Jean.jpg
Date Added
August 17, 2014
Local (Michigan)
Item Type
Amy French, “Jean Goodnow,” Women Who Dared, accessed May 22, 2024,