Dec. 9, 2009
2009 may be coming to a close, but Dawn Lindsay’s journey as the interim superintendent/president of Glendale College has just begun.
Since stepping in office this July, following the departure of Audre Levy, Lindsay has approached her job with passion and enthusiasm.
Though bound by a busy schedule, Lindsay sat comfortably in her office on a Thursday afternoon to take time to reflect positively on her first semester.
“I love it,” she said of her job. “I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying working with the faculty and the staff. I’m enjoying making the contacts out in the community. I’m loving the receptivity that we’re getting back in the community as far as the welcome and the desire to be collaborative .… I’m very proud of the work that we’re doing and I’m very proud to be able to represent this college.”
Barely six months into her term, Lindsay has already engaged in efforts to encourage college growth.
“We really are working hard to get people out in the community so people hear and see Glendale College on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
To help address budget cuts, she said that the college has been “working so hard to look at various grants and collaborative efforts and really doing some very strong lobbying at the state, but even more so at the federal level.”
Even with the current deficit, Lindsay said that GCC is so committed to students and the community that it has an estimated 3,000 full-time equivalent students for which it receives no state funding.
Despite drastic funding cuts Lindsay does not appear to view the economic downfall as an obstacle: instead of worrying too much about the problem, she has diverted her focus on ways the college can secure additional funding.
In October she visited Washington D.C. to work with a federal lobbyist to help Glendale get in touch with people who make major decisions about budget appropriations.
Lindsay said that the constituent groups she met with were “very pleased with the collaborative relationships that we’ve got with our community .… ”
She is scheduled to visit Washington D.C. again in February to continue lobbying efforts.
The interim president expressed how proud she is of the college and noted attributes that make it stand out from other community colleges.
“We’ve got an amazing transfer curriculum, we have an amazing general education curriculum, we are really, really building up our career and tech education program [vocational programs],” she said. “But I think what really, really allows this college to stand out from probably any other college I’ve worked in, and I’ve been in five … the faculty and the staff and the administration at this college are so committed to the success of our students.
“There’s passion, there’s drive, there’s love. This college is in people’s hearts and souls. That’s how deep it goes. And I’ve never been in any other institution where I’ve seen that degree of dedication. It’s amazing.”
Lindsay started working at community colleges on the east coast in 1991. Since moving to California in 1994 she worked at Saddleback College for 8 1/2 years and at Riverside Community College for 3 1/2 years.
“[A] community college, in my opinion, is just a very, very special place to work,” she said.
With her experiences at community colleges, Lindsay said she prefers them over four-year institutions.
“Once I got my foot in the door of a community college, I never wanted to leave,” she said.
She obtained her doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University, holds a master’s degree in educational counseling, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and obtained a bachelor’s of social work degree from Western Maryland College.
Lindsay expressed pride in the successful partnership between the college and Glendale Water and Power, which resulted in creation of the Glendale Water and Power Academy.
“Glendale city had a problem, and the fact that they were having a hard time keeping their workers employed because they were losing them to outside agencies. So they came to us with a concern,” Lindsay said.
Together the college and Glendale Water and Power applied for funding to create the academy.
Twenty spots are open in the program, 17 of which go to unemployed Glendale residents.
“That’s just an example of working with the community to get people back, employed, where they’re contributing and living and staying within this community and continuing to give back,” Lindsay said.
Perhaps one contributing factor to Lindsay’s energetic approach to her job is servitude leadership, a humble form of leadership by which she abides. Under this principle, the higher one ranks in an organization, the more that people that person serves.
“It’s my whole training, ” Linsday said of the leadership principle. “It’s my whole background. It’s about respecting differences of opinion and being open to different ways of thinking about things.”
She added that servitude leadership is “not [about] what you keep, it’s what you give away.”
As she wraps up her first semester as the college president, Lindsay looks forward to continuing to serve GCC.
“It’s really nice to come to work with people that are just so much fun to be with. And with students that are so directed and so driven and so given,” she said.
With the holidays just around the corner, Lindsay is looking forward to spending time with her family and friends.
She also wishes everyone a “wonderful holiday season.
“We’ve done a lot and we have a lot to be proud of. We have a lot to be thankful for, a lot of successes that we can talk about, and I think it’s time we celebrate.”