Facebook pixel STLCC Recognizes Four Female Presidents #WHM, Part Three

STLCC Recognizes Four Female Presidents #WHM, Part Three

A Special Series Presented by St. Louis Community College

Female leadership matters. Women are creative, passionate and collaborative. They bring forward solutions that drive change. 

Although women are often qualified for leadership roles, they’re still underrepresented at the top level of most organizations. At St. Louis Community College, however, that’s not the case. 

All four campus presidents are women: Feleccia Moore-Davis, Ph.D., STLCC-Meramec; Julie Fickas, Ed.D., STLCC-Forest Park; S. Carol Lupardus, Ph.D., STLCC-Wildwood; and Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, Ed.D., STLCC-Florissant Valley. 

“We are fortunate to have talented women leading our campuses,” said Andrew Langrehr, Ph.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Each brings unique skills, perspectives and qualities that help advance the mission of the College, and more importantly, help to serve our students. STLCC is a better organization because of their leadership.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, STLCC is spotlighting the careers of its campus presidents through a series of stories. Read the first story below, and check back for profiles on STLCC's other female leaders. 

Spotlight on Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, Ed.D., campus president and chief academic officer, STLCC-Florissant Valley 

Dr. Perkins with academic deans

August 2022 will mark the sixth year Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, Ed.D., has led St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley.  

She joined the College as provost in August 2016, then her title changed to campus president and chief academic officer in January 2019. 

In addition to her duties as president, she administers the College’s dual credit, dual enrollment and early college partnerships, is responsible for managing developmental education redesign efforts and leads or serves on a variety of district and campus task forces and committees.

Outside of work, Perkins is heavily involved in her community and serves as an executive director for North County Incorporated.

She is vice president for The SoulFisher Ministries board of director and serves on the Greater North County Chamber of Commerce Partners in Excellence committee.

Perkins Family

Prior to joining STLCC, Perkins served as interim vice president of academic affairs at Darton State College, which is now Albany State University.

Perkins earned a doctorate in leadership with an emphasis in higher education from Valdosta State University. She earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in English from the University of Montevallo and graduated, summa cum laude  as an undergraduate.

She lives in St. Louis with her husband Brian and daughter Auraelia who is a proud “mini Archer,” as she attends the Child Development Laboratory Center on the Florissant Valley campus.

Q&A with Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, Ed.D.

What woman inspires you and why?

All of my colleagues on the Academic Affairs Leadership Team, with the exception of our leader Dr. Langrehr, are all women! Because I get to work so closely with them, I see their passion, dedication, brilliance, and commitment to excellence every day. Being able to work with true partners and teammates is one of the things I look for most in a career, and I feel like I hit the jackpot with these incredible eight women who are my friends and colleagues. I’m also very lucky to have so many women colleagues on our campus, including my direct reports, our campus leadership team, our faculty and staff. I could never pick just one! They all work so incredibly hard to fulfill the vision and mission of STLCC, and I’m inspired by all who give their time, talent and treasure to promoting our students’ success. I also have really amazing family members and friends who inspire me through their love, empathy, compassion, and intelligence; these individuals inspire me every day to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, and human.

How do you balance your career with your personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?   

Until I became a mother, I can honestly say that my balance was way off, but my toddler doesn’t care how much work needs to be done or how many emails are sitting in my inbox. Being a parent requires you to have more balance, but I’ve also learned through parenthood that there is joy to be had outside of work. My husband and I both try to keep our weekends reserved for family time as much as possible, though we often work early mornings and evenings. In my job, I am constantly connected, so I’m usually on Microsoft Teams or email no matter where I am or what I’m doing. That said, I’m very fortunate to work for an organization that encourages me to prioritize my family and my health (even if I don’t always do it).    

What mistakes have you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?

I’m a firm believer that we all make mistakes every single day, and I learn from all of them. I can’t point to any specific one that I would consider “the biggest mistake of my life,” for instance, but even small mistakes can provide a big benefit in terms of learning and growth. I am my own biggest critic and spend a lot of time reviewing what I can do better each day. I can say that a common theme that I see emerge from my learned lessons is that had I asked for help, things would have been different and/or better. I’m pretty awful at asking for help, but I am trying to get better. 

How can women develop their leadership skills?

I encourage everyone to read as much as they can and work to become knowledgeable about lots of different areas. It’s also important to step outside of your comfort zone, and say yes to new opportunities and new challenges, even if you think it might be too much or too difficult. I also encourage women to ask someone they trust to be their mentor; it doesn’t have to be a woman. One of the smartest things I did when I landed at STLCC was ask Carol Lupardus to be my Yoda. 

What are three things you’d say to your younger self?

1.     Don’t quit something because you are scared you will fail.

2.     People are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and it’s okay that not everyone is the latter.

3.     Writing scholarship applications isn’t fun now, but paying student loans is even less fun in the future. 

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