IAUP Hosts Webinar on Female Leadership in Higher Education

IAUP Hosts Webinar on Female Leadership in Higher Education

On May 31, 2024, IAUP hosted the Webinar “Spotlighting Leadership Strategies from Female Presidents at IAUP Institutions”, featuring a panel of distinguished female university presidents from around the globe, including Dr. Sue Cunningham, President of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (USA); Dr. Carmen Z. Lamagna, Former President of the American International University of Bangladesh (Bangladesh); Dr. María V. Mestre, President of Universidad de Valencia (Spain); Dr. Eun-jo Lee, President of Seoul Cyber University (Korea); and Dr. Elizabeth Stroble, Chancellor of Webster University (USA). The session was moderated by Dr. Devorah Lieberman, President Emerita of the University of La Verne (USA), and introduced by Dr. Fernando León-García, IAUP President and President of CETYS University.

Participants from 26 countries signed up to join this webinar, part of the IAUP’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. The event underscored the significance of female representation in university presidencies, a sentiment echoed by Dr. León-García, who emphasized that supporting female presidents and those aspiring to such roles is crucial. This theme resonated throughout the discussion, which highlighted both the challenges and successes these leaders faced in their journeys.

Dr. Lamagna shared her experience as the first female president of the American International University of Bangladesh, emphasizing the resilience and dedication required to break through deeply ingrained gender biases in a male-dominated society. “Despite the challenges, I find my role very rewarding and impactful,” she noted, stressing the importance of perseverance and strategic planning.

Dr. Cunningham discussed the value of mentorship and the presence of imposter syndrome in her career. She highlighted the necessity of fostering a supportive environment that allows for personal and professional growth. She advised seeking out mentors who can help shape and frame one’s path, and to nurture others to grow emphasizing the need for inclusive and diverse leadership.

Dr. Stroble, reflecting on her tenure at Webster University, spoke about the challenges and rewards of evolving an institution’s mission and advancing it in ways that meet the needs of a changing world. She expressed that the role of a president allows one to pull from every lived experience, illustrating the comprehensive nature of leadership in higher education.

In a video message, Dr.  Lee advised aspiring female leaders to embrace diversity and inclusivity, actively working to understand different perspectives within their institutions. She emphasized the importance of continuous innovation and adaptability, encouraging leaders to adopt new technologies and educational trends. Dr. Lee also highlighted the value of engaging globally, building strong international networks to enhance both personal and institutional growth.

Also in a pre-recorded message, Dr. Mestre suggested future leaders analyze their environments carefully and surround themselves with strong teams. She stressed the importance of empathy, active listening, and participatory governance. Dr. Mestre recommended that leaders focus on promoting equality, diversity, and sustainability within their institutions, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.

The webinar also announced an upcoming IAUP publication featuring ten female presidents from member institutions. This publication will delve deeper into their presidential trajectories, challenges, and strategies for future leaders. It will be available for free on the IAUP website this summer, providing a valuable resource for those aspiring to leadership roles in academia.

This event highlighted the collective wisdom and diverse experiences of female leaders in higher education, offering insightful advice and encouraging aspiring presidents to embrace opportunities and challenges alike. As Dr. Lieberman concluded, “Growth begins when comfort ends,” encapsulating the spirit of resilience and continuous learning that defines effective leadership.

View the full webinar: