Leaders from Wayne State University and Oakland University recently gathered at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, Michigan, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Higher Education Resource Services (HERS). HERS is an organization that supports woman-identified leaders with the goal of driving inclusive and equitable change in higher education.
The celebration, co-sponsored by WSU and OU, featured remarks from HERS President Gloria Thomas, with closing remarks delivered by Wayne State Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Kornbluh, and OU President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz.
Jennifer Hart, professor of history at Wayne State University, and Christine Jackson, chair of Wayne State’s Department of Management and Information Systems, discussed their experiences in the HERS Leadership Institute. The institute is the organization’s signature leadership development program, founded to fill higher education leadership pipelines across the United States with dynamic women.
Hart, who is also a senior scholar with the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ Office of Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation and the North American President for the International Society for the Scholarship on Teaching and Learning in History, spoke about her personal experience in the program, as well as the program’s role in creating equitable opportunities for social mobility. Hart co-organized the event with fellow 2021-22 HERS Leadership Institute alumna Elaine Carey, dean of OU’s Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences.
“One of the things that HERS does is help individuals define their path and understand their value in a much broader context. As a rural working-class woman from the South who lucked into my path, I am personally driven by the idea that no individual should have to be lucky to benefit from the transformative power of education,” said Hart. “That’s an equity-minded mission that HERS helps make possible and expands nationally.”
Jackson, who also serves as WSU’s representative in Michigan’s American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network through Wayne Women Lead, spoke about the program’s supportive culture. Jackson participated in the 2020-21 HERS Leadership Institute cohort.
“I think the value of being in this type of program is that it continues to give back. The support that you get from your colleagues in the program is really tremendous and that support continues on past the program,” Jackson said. “It’s important that we invest in ourselves and build our confidence and lift each other up, and I think HERS really does that.”
The first HERS Leadership Institute was launched in 1976, and has since served more than 6,000 women across more than 1,200 institutions. To date, 13 Wayne State University leaders have participated in the prestigious program. Hart said the HERS Leadership Institute served, in part, as an inspiration for the leadership development opportunities provided by WSU’s Academic Leadership Academy.
“Anyone can be a leader. It doesn’t require a management position. Leadership is about inspiring and empowering others to make change,” Hart said. “If you don’t see yourself as a leader right now — or if you want to begin exploring what leadership might look like for you — consider taking advantage of some of our great program offerings on campus. There’s a lot of great people around dedicated to supporting you.”
Women interested in leadership are encouraged to learn more about HERS and engage with WSU’s Wayne Women Lead and the Commission on the Status of Women for free networking and professional development opportunities.