Andrea Adolph, Ph.D.
Position: Director of Academic Affairs; Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Institution: Penn State University New Kensington
What does leadership mean to you?
For me, leadership means doing, and by that I don’t mean doing something only to get people to follow, but performing work that I find meaningful and important to higher education and then looking up to find that others have joined in because they see the value in what you’ve started. I think that leadership is collaborative–we can’t lead people who do not wish to follow us, and so others need to see a reason to join us in our work. Forcing people to follow us is not the same as leading!
My administrative experience is rooted in community-based work, particularly in the area of academic service-learning, and in that field, one of the primary goals is reciprocity, and I bring that belief to my work as a higher-ed administrator. Projects and initiatives have to benefit (or at least make sense to) the stakeholders involved, and the best way to assess how to manage multiple perspectives is to listen and learn. Sometimes, necessity will drive an initiative forward, and sometimes, not all needs or interests can be met, but if we lead in a spirit of true collaboration, we can attempt to take into consideration the variables that most matter to those involved.
Why is networking/mentoring important?
Mentoring is a key piece of leadership, especially for women and others who have not historically been represented in those kinds of roles. There is some knowledge that only comes with experience, and sharing that can be critical for those coming up the ladder. I have been lucky to have great mentors throughout my career, starting even during my undergraduate years, but importantly, great female mentors. Women who have been where I want to go and can share with me what is possible (as well as how to avoid a few pitfalls!). When someone takes an interest in our success, it emphasizes the fact that we can achieve our goals, and although we have to be intrinsically motivated in order to accomplish significant goals, it never hurts to have an extra boost from someone else. I make an effort to reach out to colleagues and students alike to try to provide advice, motivation, or cautionary tales when needed.
Why are you a member of PAACE?
I think that it’s so important to develop a network of colleagues who can share information and assist with building the next generation of women leaders in Pennsylvania’s higher education arena. I have a lot to share with others, but also so much to learn as I continue to develop into the very best that I can be. I welcome the opportunity to work with others across the Commonwealth to make that happen!