TCC President Well Prepared for New Role

Managing Editor

INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP: TCC President Dr. Leigh Goodson officially began her tenure on July 2. Goodson has a long history working in higher education, her most recent positions serving as vice president for research and institutional advancement at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and vice president for research at OSU in Tulsa.

Courtesy TCC

Dr. Leigh Goodson, Tulsa Community College’s first female president in its more than 40-year history, officially entered her new office on July 2.

“I love about my work,” says Goodson of her years in higher education, “that I have relationships with students and help them meet their goals: long or short term.”

Her continuing focus on individuals and building relationships has certainly been evident all along Goodson’s career path, starting with her early years attending the .

“I was a Y kid,” she says. She remembers spending her summer breaks serving as camp counselor, lifeguard and general mentor to young ones.

It’s only fitting, then, that for the past 10 years Goodson has maintained a position on the YMCA’s board of directors.

Years later, during and after earning her political science degree from Oklahoma State University, Goodson interned with Lieutenant Governor Robert S. Kerr and later worked on his election campaign for Congress. She went on to work for Glenn English in Congress, describing her work for him as very people focused: “I helped people navigate federal agencies,” she says, noting one example where she helped a veteran set up easier access to his monthly government checks. “We helped make something happen for him.”

She later moved to Kansas for her husband’s job and pursued her master’s in organizational communication at Fort Hays State University and worked there as an admissions counselor, her first brush with higher education employment. Yet, she notes, the goal of that employment remained the same as her past political positions: helping individuals. In this case, she was focused on aiding prospective students and those in need of guidance within the higher education system.

Upon returning to Oklahoma, she began working for as an academic advisor and went on to serve in a number of roles including assistant registrar with the College of Osteopathic Medicine, director of admissions, school head of healthcare administration at Center for Health Sciences, vice president for enrollment management and marketing, and most recently, vice president for research and institutional advancement at Center for Health Sciences and vice president for research at in Tulsa.

After earning her doctorate from , she started teaching graduate students, helping them to develop their research programs. “Teaching is another way to be in contact with students and help them determine their path to success,” she says.

Goodson feels that her wide range of employment positions over the years not only helped to position her as a potential candidate for president of a higher learning institution but also added to her sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in her work and life.

In addition, it presents her with a deeper ability to view the full educational picture and find ways to propel , and herself, forward.

“I’ve been exposed to a diverse set of responsibilities over the years,” she says. “Now, I’m looking forward to being able to work with all of these different departments and divisions at one time, to see things from this view and have us all work together and also see where I can improve. Because we all can always improve; there’s always more we can do.”

One area she would like to see improve in the future is TCC’s student completion rates, which she feels can be helped through improved program delivery and bettering its student advisement practices. When students connect with a campus and have that personal touch from an advisor, they do better, she says.

Before entering her role as president, Goodson had a number of conversations with outgoing-President Thomas McKeon, their discussions revolving around TCC’s future, the current state of education, and how to adapt to changing demographics and workforce needs.

Goodson credits her years on the Tulsa Public Schools board of education as one way that has kept her connected to common education and the community’s needs and evolving circumstances.

She plans to maintain a close eye on common education, realizing that changes to common education directly impact higher education “because those high school students are our students. As state standards change, that changes the dynamic of higher education,” she says.

As Goodson prepares for TCC’s future, she will remember two vital points from her conversations with McKeon: the importance of leadership, “putting the right people in the right places and letting them do their job,” she says, “and being able to guide the institution and carry the torch the way we’re going,” and second, that there’s always more to accomplish. “He said to me that there’s much to do, which I expect to say the same thing to the next president.”

Updated 09-12-2014

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