I met this month’s interviewee at the recent National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) conference in Baltimore MD. I had the chance to sit in on her presentation, “A High Heel in the Door: Leadership Lessons Learned from Female University Presidents,” taken from her dissertation research on women college presidents. The room felt electric as the audience clapped and cheered for Dr. Klotz. I knew I had to connect with her and introduce her to those of you who don’t already know her.
Dr. Ann Marie Klotz has been a little busy this semester. She defended her dissertation, presented at several conferences, and started a new job as Dean of Campus Life at the New York Institute of Technology. I’m sure you’ll want to follow her on Twitter as soon as you’re done reading!
Below is our interview, edited for clarity and brevity.
What did you major in?
As an undergrad, Political Science.
Describe your job in one sentence
[As of April 30, 2014] Chief student affairs officer on the Manhattan campus of New York Institute of Technology, overseeing all departments in student affairs.
What is the most misunderstood thing about what you do?
Most people who don’t work in higher education do not realize how complex our jobs are. Between compliance issues, adhering to state and federal regulations and working with an evolving student population, our jobs require much skill and stamina every day!
How did you get to your current position?
Through hard work, determination and saying “yes” as much as possible! I was a student leader (resident assistant, student senate, sorority leader, etc.). After graduating from Grand Valley State University MI, I went to work at Albion College MI as a residence hall director. While working there I completed my masters degree from Michigan State University in student affairs administration.
After graduating I moved to Ball State University IN, where I worked in housing overseeing an honors community. Three years later I moved to Chicago to work at DePaul University IL as an assistant director of residential education. While at DePaul I received a second masters degree in women and gender studies. Six years later I accepted a position as the director of residential education at Oregon State University.
For the last two years I have worked at OSU finishing up my doctorate in educational leadership (also from DePaul University). Now I am the new dean of campus life at NYIT, Manhattan campus. I’ll be overseeing Residence Life, Off-Campus Housing, Student Activities, Student Organizations, First Year Experience, New Student Orientation, Student Conduct and International Student Affairs.
What are some of the challenges you face in your job?
- In general, leading and managing people is the most challenging thing we do. Leadership is about making the right decision, not always the easy one.
- In these challenging economic times, doing more with less is the reality.
- Student affairs professionals must be one part lawyer, one part financial analyst and one part counselor.
What is your strongest skill in your current position?
I have always been administratively strong, and I have a large capacity to manage several competing priorities at work. I am a strong supervisor who invests in the people who work for and with me.
Any special risks you took along the way, and how did it turn out?
I love risks—women should take them more often! I have moved across the country twice and applied for opportunities when people told me I wasn’t ready. Ultimately you have to do what you feel is right.
Do you have a particular role model/mentor? What makes them great, in your eyes?
I have so many! Teri Bump, Cissy Petty, Deb Schmidt-Rogers, Marlene Kowalski-Braun and Norb Dunkel are all people who have advocated for me and advised me on tough professional challenges. Everyone needs a team of folks who are committed to your success. I am incredibly grateful for people who have consistently done this for me, and I wholeheartedly believe in paying that forward as much as I can!
What is the worst advice you have received along the way?
“Wait your turn.” I reject the notion that all people should be on the same path. We all want different things. Blaze your own trail!
What are some goals you have for this year?
- Have a strong transition to my new job
- Finish my three-year term as the co-chair of the NASPA Women in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community
- Continue to write and speak on my doctoral research
What skills do you think women in higher education need to succeed?
Thick skin, adaptability, personal and physical wellness, stamina, mentors and sponsors, strong public speaking skills and ability to inspire a shared vision.
What advice might you have for women in higher education?
Take risks. Do the thing you are scared to do. Don’t overthink it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Make the ask and advocate for yourself.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Find a woman ten years older than you whom you admire in the field—and befriend her.
Is there someone who is making a difference for women in higher education? Is there a female leader in higher education whose work you want to highlight? Let our editor know: firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to highlight their work!
—Silva-Ford, Liana. (2014, April). WIHE Interviews: Dr. Ann Marie Klotz. Women in Higher Education, 23(5), 7.