Susan Komives: Audio & Transcripts: Oral History: Research: Tobias Leadership Center: Indiana University (2024)

Scarpino: As I said when the microphones were off, I’m going to read a statement and get it in the record. It’s going to take a couple minutes to do it. Today is Saturday, October 15, 2022. My name is Philip Scarpino, Professor of History at Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI); and Director of Oral History for the Tobias Leadership Center also at IUPUI. Today I have the privilege to be interviewing Dr. Susan R. Komives at the annual meeting of the International Leadership Association (ILA) in Washington, D.C. This interview is a joint venture undertaken by the Tobias Center and the International Leadership Association.

In the interest of full disclosure, I note that as part of my background research I talked to two of Dr. Komives professional colleagues: Dennis Roberts, writer, scholar, and consultant in the area of leadership; and Julie Owen, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at the School of Integrative Studies, George Mason University. Dr. Komives was Professor Owen’s dissertation advisor. Julie Owen described Susan Komives as a “field shaper,” which we’ll talk about in a minute.

Susan Komives earned her Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration and Supervision at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1973. She also holds a Master of Science in Higher Education - Student Personnel Administration, earned at Florida State University in 1969. Finally, she has a Bachelor of Science with a major in Mathematics, and a minor in Chemistry from Florida State University in 1968.

Susan Komives’ career is really a tale of two related careers. Her first career was in university administration. She served as Acting Director and Assistant Director, Area Coordinator of Residence Halls, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1969-1973. Associate Dean of Students, Denison University, Granville, Ohio, 1973-1978. Vice President and Dean of Student Life Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, 1978-1985. And Vice President for Student Development University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida, 1985-1987.

In 1987, she began the second phase of her career when she moved to the University of Maryland, College Park, as an Assistant Professor, College Student Personnel Program, Department of Counseling and Personnel Services. Susan Komives advanced through the academic ranks at the University of Maryland, having been promoted to Associate Professor in 1993 and Full Professor in 2007. She retired in 2012 and presently holds the title of Professor Emerita. Among her many duties at the University of Maryland, she served as Faculty Director, Minor in Leadership Studies (2007-2012), and Senior Scholar, James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership (2002-2009).

From 2012-2015, she was Consulting Editor, Student Leadership Development, Jossey-Bass Publishers, New Executive Directions for Student Leadership.

Susan Komives has had a profound impact on the general field of leadership studies through her scholarship.

Between 1996 and 2023 she has co-authored or co-edited 15 books beginning with Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession (1996); and Exploring Leadership: ForCollege Students Who Want to Make a Difference (1998). Most recently she co-edited, How Academic Disciplines Approach Leadership Development (2020), and Research Agenda for Leadership Learning and Development through Higher Education, which is in press for publication 2023. Some of her books have been translated into Chinese and Japanese, which has reinforced the international dimension of her professional impact.

In addition to her 15 books, she has authored or co-authored dozens of book chapters and journal articles.

Alongside her impressive publication record, she has delivered over 90 national and international refereed conference presentations. She has consulted or presented in Canada, China, Qatar, South Korea and Taiwan.

Susan Komives also contributed to the development of the field of leadership studies through her service as Founding Editor, Student Leadership, a quarterly series from Jossey-Bass Publishers from 2014-2022.

She has also had a profound impact on creating the next generation of leadership scholars. She Chaired or served as a committee member for over 60 Masters’ theses; chaired doctoral committees for 38 graduate students in college student personnel administration; participated as a member of the doctoral committee for 70 doctoral dissertations.

She has received numerous recognitions for her body of service and her body of scholarly work, including the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA)l. The award that brings us here today is the Lifetime Leadership Legacy Award, given by the International Leadership Association at its annual meeting in 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Scarpino: Before we really get started, I want to ask you permission to record this interview,

to transcribe the interview, to deposit the recording and the transcripts in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives where they may be used by patrons, including posting all or part of the recording and transcripts into the website of the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. And, also to deposit the recording and transcription with the International Leadership Association and the Tobias Center where they may be used by patrons with the understanding that all or part may be posted to those organizations’ websites. Can I have your permission to do those things?

Komives: Yes, you do.

Scarpino: All right. I want to start by explaining for the sake of anybody who uses this

interview in the future that I’m going to ask you some basic demographic questions followed by bigger-picture questions about leadership. And then we’re going to work our way more or less chronologically through your career with a lot of discussion about leadership and leadership ethics. The Tobias Center has some standard leadership questions that help provide continuity to the interviews done over the years, and I’ll work those in as we talk.

Part of the fun of doing these interviews is that we can start out with questions and a plan, but you never know quite for sure in advance where it’s all going to go. So, let’s get started. And we’ll start with some democratic questions. When and where were you born?

Komives: I was born in Portland, Maine, in April of 1946.

Scarpino: Did you grow up in Portland, Maine?

Komives: No.

Scarpino: Where did you grow up?

Komives: My parents both met in high school there, and went into World War II. My mom was a WAVE, and my dad was in the Navy. And when they came out there was no work. Bath Ironworks was scaling back down. And although both had been longtime Maine, my mother had been born in Florida and had family in Florida, so they decided to come down and see if jobs would be possible. So, we came down, I remember my mother, two-year-old brother, and I was four, on the train came down to Florida. And I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida, from the time I was four years old. Lived in the same, my dad built our house two years later and so I never really saw snow really until I was, like, 23, when I moved north.

Scarpino: That’s a long train ride for a small person.

Komives: It was. I remember walking up and down the aisle of the train to get a cone-shaped paper cup and the water cooler. My mother would let me walk up. I’m sure I spent the whole time also in the bathroom...

Scarpino: Probably did.

Komives: ... walking up and down the aisle of the train.

Scarpino: You said your mother was a WAVE.

Komives: My mother was a WAVE.

Scarpino: For the benefit of somebody who might not know what that is, could you say what a WAVE is?

Komives: Gee, I hope I know, Women’s Auxiliary Volunteer Corps, or something. I mean it’s women that enlisted to support the war effort. They weren’t in the battlefield in that era, in 1945 or ’44, but she actually ended up teaching stenography and shorthand, because she knew all that from high school training. And she taught some courses in Milledgeville, Georgia, at a base there to other women to then serve as administrative assistants to officers in the bases around the country.

Scarpino: She was in the military in World War II...

Komives: She was in the military, my dad was, too, yeah. My dad was a photographer and was stationed in Puerto Rico. He talked about being strapped in and hanging out of the side of big planes taking photographs of the coastline of Florida where the German submarines could be spotted in the water, and planning all those logistics. But he did photography.

Scarpino: Must have been interesting. So, you grew up in Florida. Did you have any brothers and sisters?

Komives: I have a younger brother, two and a half years younger.

Scarpino: You talked a little bit about your parents, but is there anything you want to add about who they were as individuals?

Komives: Absolutely, and we could fill the whole time with that. I mean, I will try not to, but, I was blessed with a marvelous family. And we knew that. We were a close family. They were young when they married. Because of the war, they married right out of high school and went into World War II. And my mother got a military discharge to have me, so she was only 21 when she had me. My dad was 21½ or 22. So, I had the youngest parents of all of my friends growing up. A lot of them had older parents.

Scarpino: A lot of them waited and actually got married after the war.

Komives: Yes, they did. And, my parents, I just admire all they did. My dad built this house with his own two hands at 27 years old, getting building loans at every step of the way of building a house. But they were just marvelous. He also learned to be an engineer, came out of World War II and wasn’t able to go to college. But at that point, with the workforce exploding, Southern Bell, he worked for Southern Bell phone company, tapped people that had passed tests and showed these intelligences to do this. And they would send him off for two or three weeks at a time, places to learn engineering. So he became an electrical engineer and ended up being district supervising electrical engineer. My mom was a legal secretary for a wonderful man. I used to hang out there and do homework after school in the law library. And as that firm grew, and she was his first private secretary, but she became the supervising secretary for the whole office.

Scarpino: Do you know what the name of the firm was?

Komives: Vocelle... and different names, Vocelle and other people. Mr. Vocelle was in Florida government with LeRoy Collins as the governor at that time, and came back to be city attorney in Vero Beach. Now my mother did a very smart thing. They added three or four secretaries over time and lawyers along the way. She would always say, “I should work with the newest lawyer because I can teach him how to be a lawyer. So I can then teach him what forms you fill out, what you got to file, and don’t say that because the form says this.” So, Mr. Vocelle thought that was brilliant. And my mother wasn’t his private secretary, she was the one in-boarding the newest lawyer who needed someone to help be a guide. And she was marvelous like that. They both were my Girl Scout troop leaders, both my dad and mom were the Girl Scout troop leaders taking us camping. They supported every single thing educationally that I could do. There was an opportunity to go to a marine biology camp in ninth grade, and I was all in the sciences at that point. I want to come back to that, that science was so important in that era. But in ninth grade, I applied for it. And they were saving money for it. We didn’t have a lot of money, but anything educational we could save for and do. And I applied, and I got a letter back about a month later that I was the only girl who applied, the others were all boys, so I wasn’t going to be able to go. They weren’t going to take any girls since I was the only one. So, things like that weren’t happening...

Scarpino: And in those days they would say it right out loud.

Komives: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. And you could even understand it, you know, that that might not be possible. But, science was very important. When I was 11 or so, Sputnik went up. And Sputnik changed everything in terms of the type of high school education we got. I don’t know how educators geared up as fast as they did to make the changes, but a year later, just a year later we had ninth grade honors biology. And then we had two years of high school chemistry offered, while previously there had only been one. So, boy, I loved being in all those classes and taking two years of chemistry. Matter of fact, the chemistry textbook we used, I remember to this day, was by Quagliana. I haven’t thought this in years. When I went off to Florida State in the honors program and took organic chemistry, was the same book that we used at FSU that I had just had in high school in chemistry. I mean, it was that good a step up...

Scarpino: You must have been in a college prep high school or something.

Komives: No, no, no, but, they had us tracked in sections. So, at that time section one and two were the students that indicated an interest, and they were tracking into college, I guess. So, I didn’t take home-ec and shop and, you know, there were other tracks for students.

Scarpino: My high school was tracked too.

Komives: It was tracked, but it was not integrated. The first integration of high schools in Vero Beach came the year after I graduated. So, my high school...

Scarpino: You graduated in what year?

Komives: I graduated high school in ’64, 1964. And the integration, there was a black community in the Vero Beach community, and then all that transitioned over ’64, ’65, ’66 kind of era, where the black high school then became the middle school for the county. And so schools were used for integrated purposes.

Scarpino: What were race relations like for a young girl in Vero Beach, Florida?

Komives: They didn’t exist. Or they were... but we were aware of the world going on around us. I mean, you watched TV and you saw Lester Maddox with axe handles, terrible things happening in the South. And we had ‘white-only’ and ‘colored-only’ water fountains at the courthouse, which we all thought we were being really rabble rousers to drink out of the colored-only water fountain or whatever. And you went to your doctor’s office and there was a colored waiting room in the back on the other side of the building. So, there were things that were very obvious and not right. And we became these privileged probably white kids. I say privileged because I know we had privileges. Not necessarily that my family had money, but there were privileges. But we became activists for: that’s not right, that’s got to change, that can’t be like that. We were even sorry, I remember classmates talking about we want to have a chance to be friends that are of another race in the way the structures are; the sports systems, you know… and it just didn’t exist. Then, I got to Florida State and it’s an integrated experience. So, at that point that was certainly wonderful.

Scarpino: As an elementary school student and a high school student, you really didn’t mix with African-Americans.

Komives: There was not any opportunity. Churches were all white or black. No, we did not. Now, we did have a lady that came in and cleaned our house kind of thing. So, there were experiences, but they were stereotyped ones, I would say, more generally.

Scarpino: What church did you go to?

Komives: First Baptist Church.

Scarpino: Did that have an impact on you as you grew and developed?

Komives: Oh yes, it had a tremendous impact.

Scarpino: In what way?

Komives: Well, for one thing it was a social outlet for us as teenagers. Certainly, there’s the choir and the things where we enjoyed singing, but it became a place to go for youth activities and a social outlet. And they would do the hayrides and the bowling nights at the bowling alley. Now, we didn’t have any dances. The First Baptist Church did not do dances.

Scarpino: Hayrides were okay, but not dances.

Komives: Right, hayrides were okay, but not dances. And we did Wednesday night prayer reading, and Sunday night training union. So, I was very active in the church. I even worked as a church secretary one summer as my summer job. Went off to Florida State and went maybe twice, and never went again. It was a meaningful experience for me, and loved the people, and a lot of them were my social friends.

Scarpino: So…

Komives: Well, my parents, because we were talking about my parents. I would want to give them exceptional credit. They couldn’t have been more supportive, more proud of me. I never once heard my father say, “You shouldn’t do that because you’re a girl.” I mean, there was nothing like that. He would say, “Why don’t you run for student government? You’ve got all these ideas on how you can change things.” I said, “Okay, I’m going to run for student government.” I mean, he didn’t persuade me to do it, but it was him affirming that doing any of those things was valuable, and I should and I had something to contribute, and I had good ideas. Our dinner table... we had dinner together every night and there were dinner table conversations that, my mom said finally, “Well, I have to get up and do other things, folks.” My father and mother...

Scarpino: Well, that’s nice.

Komives: We had encyclopedias, you know, the whole set of them, and he would assign us topics. Sometimes he’d say, “Okay, we need to learn more about a couple of things. Why don’t each of you bring that info to us tomorrow night at dinner?” So, we’d be looking up in the encyclopedia. But learning things, and being a learner, and talking about knowledge, it was a part of every day. I was very lucky. And I knew it at the time. I knew then that it was special. I later studied some of this, and also there was research later that for young women in their teenage years in the ‘60s who became successful in non-traditional fields, the single most important variable was a supportive father. Because a father says, “you’re great and you’re doing good and keep at it, and I think you’re wonderful and that you’ve got a lot to offer,” that affirmation, and it makes sense, and in that era, they actually showed that through research.

Scarpino: Do you think it was unusual at that time for a father to be encouraging his daughter to look upward and outward as she grew?

Komives: Well, I’m going to give you two answers to that. One is, with a lot of my friends, it was the same. I mean, some of these students being tracked into the sciences, and my girlfriends that were in the same classes as well as the guys, but the girlfriends also had parents that thought this was so cool that we got two years of chemistry, you know, and biology in the ninth grade, and more math than usual. So they thought it was great. I had other friends, too, through chorus and through P.E. and other courses that you take in school whose fathers said, “We can afford to send our son, but we’re not going to be able to send you,” the daughter, “so you’ll have to work.” Or, who decided to get married themselves right out of high school instead of going on to college, and nobody in the family said, “Why don’t you instead go to college?” So there were different life experiences I knew for people then, although the friends that I had were more on the track of saying our parents were wanting us all to go get higher education.

Scarpino: Do you think it helped you develop as a person to be tracked with other children who had your level of intelligence and ambition mostly? I’m sure they fooled around and had a good time, but...

Komives: Well, it’s hard to know what it would have been if it was different.

Scarpino: Right, that’s true.

Komives: And you’re so busy when you’re a teenager doing things. I was in plays with other people. I was in ninth-grade chorus with lots of other people. So there was lots of variety, not racial variety, but there was lots of variety of life experiences. But there was a lot of hom*ogeneity beyond all being white. One was, like, I only knew one friend whose parents were divorced. Every single other person that I knew, like me, had parents that were together and had been throughout their whole marriage. It was a uniquely unusual snapshot in time, I think.

Scarpino: Did you know any Catholics?

Komives: Yes.

Scarpino: Jews?

Komives: There was one Jewish family, great kids, I mean really just brilliant and in classes and everything, so, we knew one Jewish family. And, what did you say? What was the other one?

Scarpino: Catholic.

Komives: Oh, Catholic, yeah. Now, the Catholic school had a high school. So, there was actually another whole environment happening. Like, now when we go back, like, my hometown has something called Golden Grads. So, for anyone who graduated from high school 50 years ago or more in Vero Beach anywhere, there is this, at the fairgrounds, big reunion thing. We’ve been to that several times. So, I’m meeting even there some new people I didn’t know because they went to the Catholic high school. So there was one Catholic high school and the public school.

Scarpino: As you think about being a young girl in Vero Beach, and you mentioned your parents, but were there any other experiences or individuals, as you look back on it, that really shaped your character?

Komives: Oh, yes. Just phenomenal. Both teachers and advisors and those folks, and I’ll mention several, I guess. Also, peers. A lot of positive peer influence happening. One of those was through Scouts. There were Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We were in Girl Scouts, and then they added a senior level for scouting for girls. That had not existed in our county. I don’t know if it didn’t exist in the whole U.S., or we were just adding it and we were Mariners. So, we were there in a water culture, and we were Mariner Scouts. We did lots of community service. And it was my same great group of girlfriends that did lots of things together. I went off to the National Girl Scout Council Conference one year when I was a junior in high school. My mom was one of the directors and there was another woman director. A transformative experience was the Miami Herald sponsored something called Operation Amigo, which was bringing up a group of youth that applied for an exchange from Cali, Colombia, in South America. And we could then volunteer to be a host family for somebody while they were with us for three weeks in our junior year, spring of our junior year. And my family, of course, were right there volunteering. And the girl that we got to be our Amigo spoke beautiful English, and we were very lucky that way. They didn’t all, and I don’t blame them, but, I mean, we had someone who did. And we’re friends to this day. So, that was 60 years ago, 55 years ago. That summer, then, we were invited to go back down there for three weeks, and most of us were able to do that. I learned, at that time, my grandparents helped out with some money for my family. And so my first plane flight ever in my life was flying out of Miami in 1963, low enough over Cuba so that we could be recognized as a passenger plane, because you didn’t want to be a U-2 up there flying over Cuba. And we landed in Panama, and then we got to Cali, Colombia, and had a three-week remarkable experience. I got written up in the Miami Herald and lots of newspapers, but this whole cultural exchange with youth from another country was just eye-opening. And to be down there independently with those people was an empowering kind of experience.

Scarpino: What was it like to be in Cali, Colombia, as a young girl? You had a family, but pretty much on your own.

Komives: Well, we were very chaperoned. We were in a very group experience. We were scheduled to go. We went to plants, and factories, and a bull fight, and up in the mountains to see where a poet lived and where he wrote his poetry. So, we were scheduled and things. And then otherwise we would hang out at houses of these various people. But it wasn’t any, like, wild rides at night or anything.

Scarpino: No, no, that’s not what I was looking for. (laughs)

Komives: Another experience I had out of it, which was interesting to me, was I hadn’t... I hadn’t thought of this in a long time, either – spike heels were popular then, like three-inch spike heels. And, with my height and three-inch heels, and hair, hair was high, I was almost 6-feet tall with these three-inch spike heels. I’ve shrunk a lot since then.

Scarpino: You towered over those folks.

Komives: And blonde hair. I had blonde hair down to my shoulders in one of those cuts like we all had. And I would walk down the sidewalk and these guys were calling out things to me or coming up… I looked down at one point, I was looking in a store window and this arm was around my waist because this guy had gotten kind of friendly coming up beside me. So, I was this tall blonde, which wasn’t the norm in that culture. Most people were darker and a lot shorter. So that was quite an experience.

Scarpino: In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve lived in Bogota, so I have some idea what you’re talking about.

Komives: That’s where my friend lives now.

Scarpino: My beard is blonde now, it’s actually gray for the people who can’t see this.

Komives: But there were other experiences...

Scarpino: What did you take away from that experience that influenced the adult you became?

Komives: The excitement of learning about other cultures, and that there are other ways of seeing and being and experiencing even the same stimulus, whatever it might be, and how much there is to learn from that. Boy, I’ve been a learner all my life. The chance to learn anything new, and then weave and bring that into my opportunities to do something with it probably becomes a theme out of this. But that international experience, the sciences, loving history, the courses that we took. I loved every course. You know, what’s your favorite course? I could then tell you, oh English, oh no it’s history, oh it’s biology, no, it’s chemistry. Sputnik had gone up and they ratcheted up in all these courses. This is a tangent from what you just asked me, but I do want to share this. They rang the school recess bell one afternoon, hadn’t told us what we were going to see. We go out on the school grounds, all the classes emptied out like a fire drill, and they pointed up and there went Alan Shepard over our head. They had just blasted off from Cape Canaveral. We saw the rocket go up, and then there was this explosion, and we all went, “Uhhh!” You know, you gasp, and the teachers, I don’t know how they prepared them to do this, the teachers said, “That’s the first stage, he’s in that little thing that’s still going.” We didn’t even know how to interpret what we were seeing. And then, about six months later, we go out and saw John Glenn go right up over our heads. And then John F. Kennedy got elected president. So we were into the future, and we were the first of the baby boomers. So, 1946, when you look at lots of those reports, is when that generation then exploded, but also the future of building a culture together, the Civil Rights Movement that was happening, all the things that we could make this a better work, it was just so powerful. And we were learning the sciences so that we could that, and technology was going to be growing. And we were going to be in the moon at the end of that decade... we were going to be in the moon. And I remember certainly where I was, balling, as I saw Neil Armstrong step down on the moon. I was in grad school.

Scarpino: You were working in the mall? You said, ‘malling?’

Komives: Balling. I was watching TV, balling.

Scarpino: Oh yes, I understand that.

Komives: But I had marvelous opportunities in school. I was president of the National Honor Society. You know, I was your miss student leader kind of person. I loved it.

Scarpino: In high school, you were president of the National Honor Society. What else did you do in the way of student leadership or student government?

Komives: Oh, I was student council rep, and I had a radio station show. They wanted teens to play young people’s music and interview the high school football player, you know, the quarterback. I was in all the school plays. I was in Wheelettes...

Scarpino: What are Wheelettes?

Komives: Well, it’s like Rotary... the girls’ version, like Key Club and Keyettes, so you’re always an auxiliary to what sounds like is the guys’ version. So, Keyettes, and Key Club, and Wheel Club and Wheelettes. But I was really active in school, and had a lot of leadership opportunities. I also did a lot of public speaking. We had an American Legion in town that sponsored public speaking contests. And we had a speech class in school, so many of us were in that class learning to do public speaking, and would then write speeches to do at the American Legion. Then I went on to regionals and state giving speeches.

Scarpino: Speech, student government, and leadership; do you consciously look back and think that those experiences really influenced the adult you became?

Komives: Oh, absolutely. It’s just been a continuation of that all my life. At one point, I see the roots of the things that I went on to do that just then kept expanding. And almost like as being a continuer. You know, I was continuing to develop the same interests in new and different ways. So, when I got to Florida State in the Honors Program and in my residence hall, I thought, well, I’m going to run for Reynolds Hall representative to the Women’s Student Government. There was still a Women’s Student Government then. And, so, my friend and I went around and campaigned, and I won the election to be the rep to Women’s Student Government. I was picked, somehow, to be an advisor on the president’s cabinet. The president of the university had a student advisor cabinet, and I was one of the two freshmen reps to the university president on this thing for all four years of my time at Florida State.

Scarpino: You had more contact with the university president than the average student.

Komives: Oh, yeah.

Scarpino: Did that influence your career decisions?

Komives: Not necessarily who the president was, but the opportunity to engage with student leaders from across campus meant when we then wanted to get something done, we already knew each other. So, I mean, I was furious at that point that women had a curfew and men didn’t, and that women had to pay for the linens program where you got sheets and towels replaced once a week, and guys didn’t have to do that. They’re the ones that probably needed the linen program.

Scarpino: I knew a guy that didn’t change his sheets for an entire quarter.

Komives: Just getting comfortable by then... that’s right. (laughs)

Scarpino: I remember women with hours and men with no hours.

Komives: And the logic of it, women couldn’t go to apartment parties, freshman women could not, sophom*ore women could. So there were all these restrictions at that point that certainly made no sense to me as this early feminist that I was becoming. But connecting with some of those people from that advisory committee meant I was meeting people across the university that also might agree, and we could form coalitions and begin to do some kind of change initiatives, which I enjoyed. I ran for president of the Women Students by my junior year, did not win, was not selected. I was in a sorority, and an officer, did a number of things.

Scarpino: Which sorority were you in?

Komives: Tri Delta – Delta Delta Delta. And I was rush chair for that group, which is a phenomenal experience. I got my first job because of that, not in the way you may think. When I applied for my first position at the University of Tennessee, and they said, “You haven’t supervised anybody before; how would we know you can handle the supervision part of the job? Because you’ve had summer jobs, but they’re not like this.” And I said, “Well, let me tell you about being rush chairman of a sorority where 2,000 women go through rush in a week before school starts. And, what I had to coordinate the schedule for the people I had to work with in teams to make sure things were ready, and how to manage them, the selection process. So, managing a sorority of 100 women, engaging with 2,000 coming through in cycles meant there was a lot of coordination, motivation, boundary setting, those kinds of things.” And they said, “Oh, okay.”

Scarpino: I want to talk a little bit about your education. We’ve sort of done that, but we’ll do it a little bit more systematically. You started high school in 1960...

Komives: Yes.

Scarpino: And, you went to high school in Vero Beach.

Komives: That’s correct.

Scarpino: And to a white high school, and the system was still all white.

Komives: Yes.

Scarpino: When you were in high school, were there any individuals that you remember that had a significance influence on the adult that you became?

Komives: Well, I would say, yes. One was the speech teacher. His name was Gordon

Popple. And literally learning techniques of giving speeches and constructing a flow of one to give substance and engage, but have some humor, you know, those approaches to those things made a big difference, I actually won some contests with that and have done a phenomenal... I’ve given like 500 keynote speeches in my career, nationally and internationally, some groups two or three times. I’ve had some associations, they would ask me and then ten years later, somebody says, “would you come back?” So I’d say, he went on to be principal there after I had gone, but he was the speech teacher then. The high school English teacher is always a marvelous person. This woman, everybody would say was one of their favorites. We did, like, 28 Shakespeare plays in that senior English class, and she acted out most of the parts.

Scarpino: What was her name?

Komives: Betty Baker, no, Carlton, Joyce Carlton. Betty Baker was the dean of girls. She was my National Honor Society advisor. But Joyce Carlton was the teacher. The things that you think you don’t like at the time, like, diagramming sentences, but boy did that make... I was a science person, but that made me a great writer. I could really see the core of a sentence, or try to write one that had a core. And you knew what the modifiers were, and the clauses were, where everybody’s getting lost. But I remember diagramming sentences and the beauty, language, metaphors of Shakespeare plays that you then see all around you as an adult in just everyday life.

Scarpino: As you look around the world now, and education in particular where students don’t read Shakespeare, don’t diagram sentences, and don’t do many of the things that you did in high school, what do you think about that? Are they better off or worse off, or is it just different.

Komives: Well, I’ve always had a philosophy, the students aren’t better or worse, ever, they are just different. And our times puts on different pressures and stresses. I used to publish a list of what students were going to be like as they were come into college, like the Beloit College list that gets published. And I’ve never liked that because it’s a deficit model. It’s almost like how you ask the question or what that could lead to, because the question is saying, how are they deficient from what we wonderful people were like when we were in school. It doesn’t say, how are they better than even we were like. These people know so much more about social issues, about injustice and equity and citizenship than we knew. They know more about technology than I know now. I’m certainly an immigrant to technology, not a native, and these students we all know are native. I have a friend who says, “Hold your arm out, anybody who can walk under knows more about technology than you do.” And that’s true. And I call our son now for advice. But I think there are many things they bring us as gifts and talents that we need to see that way. Now, I also think it’s very, very stressful to be a public school teacher. I don’t know how, with all the limitations, my teachers... As a matter of fact, I remember my senior year in high school, in Mrs. Carlton’s senior class, we had to pick an author to do a report on, and I picked Oscar Wilde. And she said, “That’s just wonderful. I’d like to talk to your mom and dad and see if that’s okay with them to do that paper.” And they said, “Sure, that’s fine with us.” I don’t think they had any clue who Oscar Wilde was. But the point was, nobody said to me, “you can’t do a paper on a gay poet because that wouldn’t be allowed.” Now, my governor in our state of Florida says, “you’d better not be talking about that stuff,” even at the University of Florida. So, we’ve got constraints on how educators could open up our minds that really do worry me. I’m less worried about the youth themselves. I think there are lots of challenges there, but also wonderful...

Scarpino: Well, that’s what I was fishing for, was the different context from when you were a student.

Komives: Yeah.

Scarpino: We talked about where you went to high school. When you were in high school, which would have been ’60 to ’64, were there any events that took place that influenced the person you became?

Komives: Well, I think of two: One real personal, and one, well two that are world related. The personal one would be, I got a wonderful boyfriend my sophom*ore year in high school, you know my first date is this guy that I went with all through high school. He was the star basketball player. So, I was this tall girl, you know, feeling awkward and you never feel like you looked as good as everybody else. And had this just terrific guy who’s a year ahead of me in school, so I got to go to the junior prom my sophom*ore year. But to have that affirmation of a nice relationship with a guy, and we went to the same church so we did all of the youth activities at the church together. My parents just loved him, trusted him. Our parents played cards together. You know, like, we were supposed to get married was the vision of those parents, then they could be connected all their lives. And we didn’t, you know, we broke up in college later and all that. But that made a big difference for that acceptance and somebody to go to things with that I liked. That was a real joy. The world events that made a big difference: I would say one was Kennedy’s assassination. We were seniors that year, and so everybody remembers where you were sitting when the... and in my case it was chemistry class.

Scarpino: Study hall.

Komives: Study hall... well, I was in chemistry class, and we had the crazy scientist kind of chemistry professor. He could’ve been played by Christopher Lee, he was great, crazy scientist. He got called to the office, then came back and he said, “I have to tell you all, the president has just been assassinated.” And we went, “Yeah, right,” you know, like because he would be teasing us. And we realized he was telling the truth. So, that was phenomenal, because that was dreams dashed, but it was a recommitment to... it was like, we still have got to get to the moon, and we still were going to do these good things. But that national grieving, that was really tragic. That was a tragic... and partly, the young people, we knew they were young. Anybody was older than us, but Jackie Kennedy was young. And to see a woman be as gracious and appealing as she was, because you could imagine being Jackie Kennedy. Everybody had a pillbox hat that were girls. We all wore the same kind of style dress. I bought my simplicity patterns and made all my own clothes. And they all looked like Jackie Kennedy. That was sad, and that was impressive, that was something.

Scarpino: I thought of something as you were talking earlier, I’ll see if this works or not. You mentioned that as a high school-aged person, you were taller than other girls, and you finally got a boyfriend that was a basketball player. If you were taller than most of the other girls, that meant you stood out in your peer group. Did that influence the person you became?

Komives: It always made me feel special. I wasn’t ever one to cower my shoulders and hunch down. But I was always taller. I had an April birthday, so I was six and a half when I started first grade. Well, a lot of my friends hadn’t even turned six yet, because you could go until November or something. So, in terms of going into the school system, at six and a half I already knew how to read. I can remember the teacher in first grade led one reading group and had me lead the second reading group. She asked if I would help her with it, and I sat with one group and read, and she read with another group. And then, I would finish all my lessons first because I was just ahead of everybody for a while. I mean, that catches up certainly as everybody gets caught up with basic skills, and then it was more equal. But through much of elementary school I was the one who would be asked to put together a bulletin board display on something because I had already done the worksheet kind of thing. So, I was ahead of folks, I was taller; I remember not wanting to show off that much. The teacher was real good about being subtle about things. But, my friends, of course by my senior year when they were electing senior superlatives, I won two of them which you’re not supposed to do, you can only get one. You’ll guess which one I picked: One was most studious, and the other was the most likely to succeed. And, so, I picked the most likely to succeed to be mine, not the most studious one. But I think everybody thought all I did was study and go to basketball games.

Scarpino: Do you think that, when you were in high school, people could look at you and say, “This person is going somewhere?”

Komives: Oh, I think so. They tell me that now, too. Or since Facebook days and, you know, since all this has happened, people have seen... or Googled my name. I had a friend that said, “I Googled you,” and they said, “on fifth page I stopped looking at books.” But that’s been nice, that’s been nice.

Scarpino: When you were in high school, or if you think back to when you were in high school, maybe on graduation day or evening, where did you hope or think or expect your life was headed?

Komives: I couldn’t go too far ahead with that. I remember hoping I’d certainly have a partner, have a husband and then have kids. That would be an important message out of the upbringing that I had. And the second one was, I loved the sciences so I knew I wanted to keep going in the things I was already good at and had won…. you know, I’ve had awards in all of those disciplines. So, I was going to major in math and minor in chemistry at Florida State. But, then, I didn’t think into career. So, then, as I found when I got there, the only thing women in that era could do with a major in math was going to be teach high school, or be an actuarial scientist with a life insurance company figuring out, you know, like, how much is a limb that you’ve lost worth in your payments of your disability insurance. These things weren’t appealing. Women weren’t being hired in big ways to be going into the sciences. That came along, but that came a little bit later even in my time. So, I began noticing around me -- I don’t want to get ahead in your question -- but I knew what I wanted to major in, but I didn’t think through what the career fields would be. I got AP credits for a lot of freshman courses, so, I had extra time in my schedule to actually get certified to teach math. And I did do… the college had a couple of courses and then you get a teaching certification in mathematics. And, it was okay, I didn’t particularly like doing that...

Scarpino: Did you ever teach?

Komives: Only student teach. And by that time I did that, I had already decided that I was really liking all the student involvement things I was doing, and had asked one of the deans working with our student government, “how did you get the job you got?” And then she told me about this whole field called Student Affairs that I had not ever, of course, known existed. But I was working with the dean of students and with her, and then changed career fields completely to go into this.

Scarpino: I’m going to talk to you about that. You graduated from high school in 1964, matriculated to Florida State University, I assume because you were in Florida, so that would in-state tuition and all of that.

Komives: That’s right.

Scarpino: You majored in math and minored in chemistry, graduated with a B.S., bachelor of science, in 1968. Obviously, Florida State is not the only university or college in Florida. Why did you pick that?

Komives: Well, I remember my father saying, “You can go anywhere you want to college in the state as long as it’s FSU or the University of Florida.” And that logically would be where would go. The only college campus I had been on at that point had been Rollins. Rollins is a beautiful private university in Orlando, and we had gone there for choral competition, our tenth-grade chorus or something went there. So, I thought all colleges must look like Rollins. But it was private and that was very expensive. And, in the state of Florida, the history of Florida State and the University of Florida are very different. Florida State was Florida State College for Women until 1947. The University of Florida was the men’s university and had the law school. So, all of the state legislature came out of the University of Florida Law School, and state politics were University of Florida politics. And it had the engineering school, and the law school, and men’s kinds of education at that point. Florida State had arts and music and education, and a lot of those kinds of things. As the World War II vets came out, both went coed, Florida was already coed, I think, but Florida State went coed. And then Florida State added a law school. When I was there, there were law students. As a matter of fact, the law students started to take over student government and we were very incensed by that. Those law students were wanting to run the student judicial boards and all those things. The law student who became the head of the Student Judiciary when I was there went on to be - Parris Glendening - governor of Maryland when I was at the University of Maryland. I did not know him at Maryland, but I knew him at Florida State as an interloper law student, you know, taking over our student government. But, very, very localized politics in any state between the two main state universities. And, so, of the two, then, of course, I really wanted to go to Florida State. So, I went to Florida State.

Scarpino: But you were going to major in math and minor in chemistry...

Komives: That’s right.

Scarpino: ... and you picked that because...

Komives: Because I was good at it, and it was challenging, and I liked it, and in my dualistic way of thinking at that age, if you worked hard enough you could get the right answer. You know, and in other fields the answers were more amorphous and, you had people’s opinions… so I was dualistic not quite seeing multiplicity and certainly not relativism in any of the knowledge, so the sciences were appealing.

Scarpino: You’re in math and chemistry, you alluded to this earlier, but were there many other women in those classes?

Komives: No. There were more in chemistry than there were in math. And some of those chemistry courses were big. You know, at that point, they were they flunk-out courses kind of thing. Like, anybody who couldn’t pass organic chemistry probably was going to leave the university, or leave the sciences. That was a course that weeded you out, like calculus might be for those of us in math. But there were many math courses; linear algebra and those... I was the only woman in the class. We were still using slide rules in these courses.

Scarpino: I still have mine. I don’t know how to use it, but I have it.

Komives: The technology story that could be woven throughout this is also wonderful. I did sit with, in two of my classes, a guy that was really interesting. I wore my sorority pin and he had on a fraternity pin, interesting. So, we kind of sat together. I don’t think that was why, but… and everybody else had their slide rules it felt like strapped to their belts. They were real mathematicians. And he was a real mathematician. We ended up getting engaged and got married, this is part of the story to come. But we were the two people we felt connected in these math classes that brought us together. Mike Bowling is his name... Mike Bowling – B-O-W-L-I-N-G. But I would be the only female in those classes.

Scarpino: Was that a challenge for you?

Komives: No. And I never got any discrimination, or, nobody to my face anyway said anything. I was also good.

Scarpino: The professors treated you the same way they treated the men? I know they know you were a woman, but I mean, minus that.

Komives: Yes, I’d say, with one exception: Yes they did, and they looked at, I think, talent, so, when you’re the one that’s making an A on the test, the professor is glad to have you. Doesn’t matter what you look like, or color, or anything; if you’re a good student you’re a good student. And I was a strong student. I could memorize my way through those formulas, I mean, I was bright, I could learn that stuff. And I remember staying up… my only all-nighter I ever pulled in college was for a linear algebra test, and I thought I just bombed it. I left it in tears. I did not do well on it. And, of course, with the curve, I got a B-minus or something. But the teacher said to me, “This isn’t your normal level of work. I want you to take this test over. I know that something had happened, because you would not be doing this kind of work in this class.” And he let me take the test over, partly because believing in me, I think, you know, was my ability. I did have an advisor, I won’t name him, particularly in the Me Too Movement era, but I did have an advisor who is a famous man, and had written a textbook that we used in one of our classes. I went into his office one day to talk with him, and he came around to show me something by his desk, and he had a Playboy magazine and wanted me to see the centerfold. And I said, “I don’t want to see that, put that away.” You know, and I went down and sat, and said, “Now, what should I take next semester?” I just went on like nothing had happened. And it didn’t, because I went on like nothing had happened. But, I literally had that experience. I thought he was a jerk from it, so I didn’t let it affect me saying, What’s wrong with me? I’m thinking, What is wrong with this guy? But it also wasn’t anything you told anybody at the time. It was just like you dealt with it.

Scarpino: And it was something in those days that somebody could get away with.

Komives: Yeah, oh yeah. I did have later experiences, and I’ll weave those in.

Scarpino: Because you were in a minority in those classes, there were not many women, sometimes you were the only one. Did you ever think of yourself as a leader in those classes? As somebody who was blazing a trail?

Komives: Not necessarily in those classes. I realized I was over my head as you got into advanced math. But my first two years at Florida State, I had a 4.0 average. I was taking things, like that chemistry course, used the same book. So, I’m earning good grades because the material was catching all of us up to some standard or level. And then it got hard in those junior and senior level courses, and it wasn’t as enjoyable. And I was doing more student government so I wouldn’t start studying until midnight when I got home from whatever meetings I was in. I wasn’t invisible, but I wasn’t trying to stand out in those classes, and math classes didn’t lend themselves to group work. You didn’t do things, and you didn’t have conversation, you were watching the teacher write with one hand and erase with the other trying to keep up with the D’s and T’s and all that, so I’d say, no. In some of the other classes I really did enjoy the human interaction of the class, a group dynamics course that the Counseling Department offered. We read literature and had to analyze the group functions in the story, and those kinds of things.

Scarpino: I talked to Julie Owen, and I mentioned that in the introduction, and she told me that while you were at Florida State, you were president of your sorority that we already talked about.

Komives: No, I was rush chair, not president. I was an RA...

Scarpino: And you were in Delta Delta Delta.

Komives: That’s right.

Scarpino: Talk about the positions you held in student government.

Komives: Well, I started off representing my residence hall, Reynolds Hall, women’s hall in women’s student government. And became freshman class senator. And, then I didn’t win the election for the president of the women’s students, because there still was a women’s government, that was a holdover from being Florida State College for Women, really. And there was also a regular student government that covered all students. And, the boy that was elected president of the student government was appointing a cabinet of people then to do the civil service act, you know, functions of student government, and asked me to be the secretary of communications. And, so, I then took on, for my last two years under two presidents of student government, the secretary of communications role. And a lot of this was communicating with the administration, doing newsletters to the student body, doing the column in the school newspaper, the Torch Bearer, so that there would be information flowing out to students of what actions we had taken in student government. We were activist students, and we had a marvelous dean of students, and dean of women, who encouraged us to be active players in getting the institution to be coming along with the times changing it, so it wasn’t a butting heads kind of approach to change. After I left, of course, they did, but they finally changed the dress code and the curfews, and those things.

Scarpino: The dress code must have been skirts at a certain length, certain types of shoes, certain types of stockings.

Komives: It wasn’t that strong, but it was that girls had to wear skirts or dresses outside of their residence hall, in any cafeteria or university building. So, for classes you had to wear a dress or a skirt. So, of course, what we would do is like go to breakfast with our trench coat over our pajamas, so that underneath that was the little rebel, but we had our trench coat on over it. So girls had a dress code and boys didn’t.

Scarpino: When I started at the University of Montana in 1966, the rule was the girls had to wear dresses and skirts unless it was below zero. Imagine that...

Komives: That was true in high school in Florida too. And it got cold enough that we would wear, then, jeans under our skirt, so you had a skirt on but you had long pants on underneath it.

Scarpino: Did your experiences in student government and other activities that you engaged in at Florida State, did they pique your interest or nurture your interest in leadership?

Komives: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And I knew I was getting phenomenal experiences too. At one point, the students appointed me to be, through student government, the campus director of the National Student Association. And the National Student Association on the national level was doing quite a bit of activist work, and also offering benefits to college students if your campus was a member, like study abroad programs. You know, they managed several study-abroad programs in France and Italy and places. They had national student insurance policies that you could tap into that we then did make available. So I was doing the benefits of that as well as NSA. I didn’t know as much about their activism. You know, they later got connected with the CIA and some other things that were quite interesting. But I went off to the National Student Association conference, and airplanes were on strike that fall. I don’t remember when it was, or spring. But the airplanes were on strike, I couldn’t fly there. So, I remember taking a bus over to Pensacola from Tallahassee, and took the train out of Pensacola all the way to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in an overnight car. Me, all by myself. And the car that I was in was full of Navy cadets from Pensacola air station or something going on up to the Great Lakes, or going up... so it was me and a whole car full of Navy cadets. And they were all very nice. We played cards and we did all of this stuff. But I get to this conference, this National, NSA conference, and I looked up there and I went, “That is Timothy Leary, that guy over there is Timothy Leary.” And he was walking by with somebody. So, there were a number of other kinds of people. And I showed up in my villager dress. Now, villager dresses were the thing in 1962 or ‘63. They were the kind with lots of pleats down the front and little Peter Pan collar, and my sorority pin right on there. I went, oh boy, took off my sorority pin, went back and put on sweat pants. I mean, the style of the day was sweat pants and sweat shirts, not villager dresses at this conference.

Scarpino: I am sure that there will be people who will read the transcript or listen to this who will not have a clue who Timothy Leary was. So, can you...

Komives: He was there with Allen Ginsberg. Here’s the two of them, side by side.

Scarpino: They were both at this meeting of the National Student Association.

Komives: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Scarpino: Maybe you can just give a few words on each of them.

Komives: Well, if I can remember. I mean they certainly the adult figures we looked to at the time were into drugs, and were very upfront about it. But, one was an author, and one’s a lawyer, and I mean, they had other careers in their world, but they were on the hippie, probably leftover ‘50s hippies that were then doing some of these things in the ‘60s.

Scarpino: They were certainly the spokespeople for drugs and so on, yeah.

Komives: Now, one of the things, this is getting back to your leadership question, one of the things NSA offered was encouraging campus reps, of which I was one, to be going back and organizing, like, institutes or symposiums around student stress, and how the campus could better manage student stress before it was detrimental to students’ success. And they were using terms like that. So, I went back and organized with my friends, and through student government, a weekend retreat for student stress for student leaders and administrators. And we all gathered at the university’s retreat center. Wakulla Springs is where that was, and what a beautiful setting. Altogether and everybody agreed we needed to deal … it was a really good topic we needed to deal with it. I was the chairman of the committee, so we were organizing things to try to ameliorate or resolve issues that we thought would make the student condition better. And, so, there were direct leadership implications of an opportunity like that.

Scarpino: Do you feel as though you were able to make the student circ*mstances better?

Komives: Well, we thought so at the time. And part of it was awareness raising, getting people to talk about it. It did not alleviate probably anybody’s stress, but it was good to talk about.

Scarpino: You mentioned the National Student Association, you used the term “activist work,” what did you mean by that?

Komives: Well, they were taking on national political issues. A lot of that was early anti-Vietnam kinds of protests. And so they had information packages on contemporary social issues that your campus might want to pursue, and I would take these information packages to meetings that I had the student government offices. So, they would be on homelessness, and Vietnam War, and various social issues that we might want to or indeed have people wanting to engage in, and they had information on where you get more resources and pamphlets and, you know, all kinds of support literature. Now, it didn’t mean you had to do any of those, and they might not have come out of the university. My grad school year I was at Florida State, SDS burned the administration building.

Scarpino: Students for a Democratic Society.

Komives: Yeah, right...

Scarpino: That was a pretty far left organization.

Komives: And for a southern university that didn’t do much of any kind of activism or protests, yeah... So, I did have leadership opportunities. I knew I was learning leadership. I was also...

Scarpino: You were self-conscious about that...

Komives: I was.

Scarpino: You understood that you were learning about leadership.

Komives: I knew that I could engage people and get things accomplished. And of course a lot of it was individual at that point, but I always was working with a group or committee. I mean you didn’t individually put on a whole conference; you did that with people. But I also got interested in why some people cared and others didn’t. You know, why did it matter to some, even local issues, to me, like how come I had to have a curfew and shouldn’t you care about that, that I have to have a curfew? Or other women care about that, or why aren’t they caring about that? So, I got really interested in that, who decides to stand up and engage on whatever the topic may be, that later certainly informs a lot of the approaches we’ve taken to the leadership models we develop.

Scarpino: Do you think you were born with those inclinations, or the experiences that you found yourself engaged in while you were an undergraduate student?

Komives: I don’t think you’re born with any of that kind of thing. I think there are characteristics that one can be born with. I mean, one of my dear faculty friends in my department at the University of Maryland studied childhood temperament and prenatal and natal, early childhood temperament development. And, certainly, you see that with your own kids, you see they have different personalities even as they’re becoming little people. And I see those carry forward in both our son and daughter even as the adults they are now. And I do believe that’s true. But not that you are born caring about issues external to you, I think all that is learned.

Scarpino: When you were an undergraduate student, were there any events that took place that influenced the adult you later became?

Komives: Let me think of a couple. One would be a weekend retreat in Callaway Gardens, Georgia. They took us on a student leaders retreat with deans of every academic college at the university and the central administration, trying to work on a strategic initiative for the university for the future. And I’d already been known by those people, because of the president’s cabinet thing. I don’t remember who all the other students were, but at that retreat it was solidifying for me, about really like how you see a system works. And, I knew how the university of Florida State worked more than the average student did because I got to see that view from the dean of students and being on the president’s cabinet, perspective and student government. I mean, you saw the interrelated parts, you saw how they worked together, which ones didn’t talk to each other. You know, you could really observe the organizational structure. And it became very clear to me that I liked working at that nexus of, if we can change systems and structures, how they could be more responsive to the needs you’re trying to address and in getting, in that case, students services and other things handled more effectively. But I really liked that system thing. So, I remember the dean of the college of ed, I had not met him before, Stanley Marshall. He and I went on a walk down to the pier and sat on the pier and talked, talked about my career and what I wanted to do with my life, and that I seemed really good at observing those things, and gave me some of that feedback that affirmed: you see things much more clearly than some others do about this, and you have a talent in doing that. It was so affirming, and he was so focused on my capacity that could grow that it really made me know I want to do this. I’d already discovered Student Affairs and Higher Ed was a field you could study at the grad level, but it was one of those affirmations that I could really use as experience Florida State had given me to look at the systems of any institution and try to make them more effective, and that’s where I’d like to focus my time. He went on to be president of Florida State many years after I graduated. I wrote him a note...

Scarpino: His name was...

Komives: Stanley Marshall. I wrote him a note at one point, you now, one of those letters you get out of the blue that says, “You may not remember this, but when you sat with me on that pier and gave me all that feedback... the affirming that did that this was on track and would matter was a big positive feature.”

Scarpino: You probably said this, but just to be on the safe side... when you sat on the pier with Stanley Marshall, what was his title then?

Komives: He was dean of the College of Education.

Scarpino: Okay. So, you had a chance to chat with the dean of the College of Education, which I’m sure didn’t come to every student, but it occurred to me as I listened to you talk that one of the things that Dean Marshall wanted to do was to point out to you that he noticed your talents and abilities and potential and all of that stuff.

Komives: Well, he’s a good educator. And, you know, I see later in my life, as I would be the dean in those kinds of settings, you realize people need that feedback, and that it matters when someone affirms and can use language to label the good things that you do well.

Scarpino: But do you think it’s a mark of an effective leader, somebody who can do that?

Komives: Oh yeah... oh sure.

Scarpino: Can you talk a little bit about that? Because you’ve had plenty of experience yourself... to be able to see the talent in somebody, to be able to see the potential in somebody and to affirm that and encourage it.

Komives: Absolutely. And I think I was doing it. It mattered to me, so I knew that it would be important to model that. So as a model, a mentor -- others did this with me, too, but I remember that event so keenly -- I knew that I would want to be that kind of administrator, leader, counselor, person in my career. And as it got more intentional and I learned more about leadership, I realized I was bringing people into leadership by doing that because it was affirming their qualities that made them effective working with others that they may not see. I’ll give you an example of a student much later in one of my jobs that was the quiet shy student in student government who didn’t say anything but was diligent, always prepared, ready to vote any time, was just tuned into everything. But she also, before some votes, she would say, “I think I’m confused. Before we go forward, if we say ‘yes’ we mean this, and if we say ‘no’ we’re meaning this, is that what we’re saying?” And people would say, “no, that’s not what I meant, I meant this with it.” And they said, “Okay, I understand.” And I said, “The way you clarify a confusing conversation so that people can really zero in on what it’s going to mean to vote the way you do is a wonderful act of leadership. You’re being a leader helping the group in that moment make a wise choice for their future, even if it’s not the one you would vote for.” And she said, “That’s leadership?” You know, and I would say, “you bet’cha it is, listen to the influence you had on those people in making a better outcome for the group.” So, I became very keen of helping people learn the language of leadership by the way I would try to intentionally isolate a behavior that really was an example of a philosophy, a characteristic, an approach that’s useful in leadership.

Scarpino: If you’re going to help people learn the language of leadership, how would you define or explain the language of leadership? What’s involved in that?

Komives: The language of leadership?

Scarpino: That’s the term you used.

Komives: I did use that term. And I think language in leadership is also an issue that we

have. I mean, even the word ‘leadership,’ some cultures don’t even have that word.

Scarpino: That’s true. I’m going to ask you about culture later on, but...

Komives: In one place we saw, it was translated as ‘leader boat’ ... ‘leadership’ is ‘leader boat.’

Scarpino: Well, you can see how you can end up there.

Komives: So, I would say... I’m saying this now as Susan who is 76 years old, not Susan who is 19 or 20... that the language one uses about leadership should, and I think does stem from, whether consciously or unconsciously, your philosophy of leadership, which is what it is when it’s enacted. So that philosophy undergirds that. Like, I believe that leadership is a process among people working together to accomplish, and I would say, positive change. You ‘re trying to accomplish some goal or outcome that is positive. I do think there’s bad leadership, and I do think there’s leadership for nefarious costs and all that, but I would work toward an aspirational approach to leadership. And in that process, there are people who have roles, and then it might be very traditional roles, like leader/follower, or it might be captain and lieutenant, it might be teacher and student, I mean, mom and children. There are certainly roles that happen out of that. And I think individuals enact these things, but together, this energy of a group of people, is where leadership is occurring. And it’s different by the profile of each group. So, you the governor’s council together among governors, and you’ve got some quiet ones who don’t say anything and aren’t effective, and others that take more of a formal role. So, I think when you begin to think of leadership then, yes, in a philosophy that you’re seeing, you begin to use terms like process, or emergent leadership, or task roles and maintenance roles; you know, talk about the group relational roles, talk about ethical practices, courage. You know, there are terms, then, that can be identified. I don’t think it’s five things, or 10 characteristics, but I do think each person can learn to be more effective engaging with other people in whatever role they may be in. And teaching them how to be more effective is what we do in leadership education, and teaching groups to work together better as a group is also leadership education.

Scarpino: An important part of leadership education is teaching people, or encouraging people, or modeling for people how to engage.

Komives: Yes, and bringing it out of them what they think it is, but, yes, that’s true.

Scarpino: You mentioned a minute or so ago about leadership and positive change. Do you think it’s possible for somebody to be a leader who does things that are not positive? Were Hitler and Idi Amin leaders?

Komives: I would, you know, that’s a...

Scarpino: I tried to think of something really bad people.

Komives: No, I know. Some of it’s like contemplating (inaudible) conversation, like, how many angels on a pin they could...

Scarpino: Well, what I mean, I have actually had people tell me that if you’re not doing something good, you’re not leading.

Komives: Yeah, I know, and I was just going to say that same thing. And Burns takes that position, you know, that leadership... and some would say then he would be advancing saint leadership kind of approaches.

Scarpino: James MacGregor Burns, just for clarity.

Komives: James MacGregor Burns. I would say this, that in the broadest sense of the term, I think leadership can be a variety of styles, approaches, and can be negative and coercive and can result in terrible outcomes that are exhibited by some of the people that you just mentioned. That is not any kind of approach... the study of leadership would show that how did those people influence others to do these terrible things?

Scarpino: Right, and that’s kind of where I was going with this.

Komives: And that’s the study of leadership. The leadership development, however, isn’t to try to teach people to be like that. It’s trying to teach people to get good outcomes accomplished through the ethical and the equitable and just approaches. So, this is where Burns was right on target, with moral processes, you know, value-based processes for moral outcomes. And that approach to leadership is one we want to be developing and teaching, and I’d want to learn as a person, not these others. But in the ‘80s, you’d go to the airport and you could pull off the shelf, they call it leadership books, but it’s really management. Robert Ringer had two books out in the ‘80s that had been the icons for me of bad titles. And the books were equally as challenging. One was Looking Out For #1”...

Scarpino: Yes.

Komives: ... and the other was Winning Through Intimidation.

Scarpino: Yes.

Komives: And I looked at those and thought, that is not anything I would want to be teaching a college student as leadership. You know, that is how you get your own way at all costs and leave bloody bodies behind you.

Scarpino: As I recall, those were bestsellers.

Komives: Yes, they were. And they taught you how to put your desk on a slightly raised platform so that your chair is higher and everybody is looking up to you when they’re in your office, and it was, like, terrible stuff using the very principles of environmentalist assessment and things, to put yourself at the advantage and others at a disadvantage. So, it’s good to know there are people that might be like that. But as an educator, that’s not the liberatory approach to bringing out of the person the best abilities they have to work with other people to get great things accomplished, wherever they go. And I would want that to be what we taught students, and what we brought out in people that we engage with. So, yes.

Scarpino: You were in high school in the early ‘60s, and college in the mid-to-late ‘60s, which was a period that saw the rise of social activism, and we sort of talked about civil rights, women’s rights, war on poverty, environmental movement, and we could go on and on. Were you a participant in any of those things?

Komives: Yes, I was, although not all those things. I mean, I was aware of those things happening and was really happy about the civil rights movement. I mean, the South was just, we were in the news every day with fire hoses being trained on groups to get them to disperse, and Johnson having to send marshals into Arkansas high schools to get people able to go to school. And all of that was just terrible. By that point, I was at Florida State where Florida State -- and I did not know they had only recently integrated. I think it had only integrated a couple of years before even I went there as a freshman. But I didn’t know that. I just knew I was finally seeing black friends and black people in the community, and there still was, certainly, all kinds of discrimination and issues that surrounded that. Like, sorority rush was 2,000 women, but it was white women, you know, that was still occurring. And I was aware of that, too, but that was still happening. We were very concerned about the Vietnam War, although one of the approaches that, in this case, my sorority took was to adopt a platoon and send them letters. You know, it wasn’t like go out and protest.

Scarpino: I was a soldier and I bet that just delighted those guys.

Komives: Oh yeah. Then they wanted to come back and marry you, you know, that kind of thing. So, we were being supportive of our men at war, but we weren’t quite -- we were not in this stage “anti-war.” That came later as the ‘60s kind of progressed as more information came out and we saw more of the atrocities and things that were happening. But I was very much involved in the feminist issues at that time. So, I already was having experiences in my career where I either was advantaged or not, or discriminated against, being female going into what would have been typically male kinds of positions.

Scarpino: Can you talk about that?

Komives: Uh-huh. So, the feminism things I would say shaped, and gender issues, shaped a lot of my activity, and still does. I’m still interested in gender issues and leadership.

Scarpino: Can you talk about some of your experiences?

Komives: I’ll share a couple of them with you, and one of them concerns race. I was an area coordinator in Residence Life at the University of Tennessee, that came about in an interesting way, but I was hired as a hall director, which is a typical entry level student affairs job. And I was going to have a hall of like 500 students, women students. And my husband and I were going to live in, like we would be...

Scarpino: You should get combat pay for doing that, I’m sorry. (laughs)

Komives: And particularly lately with Covid and everything, those people are in combat positions. That was going to be my first full-time job. Well, they called me, this is getting...

Scarpino: You were married at the time?

Komives: We got married in September of ’69... and had just seen Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, you know, that experience was phenomenal. And, I was hired as a hall director before I started, and they called me, the University of Tennessee people called me about two months later and said, “the legislature has just approved a new level of position for us because we’re opening up so many residential complexes because all of these people are coming back to college. And it’s called an ‘Area Coordinator’ position, and we offered it to” – this is before Affirmative Action and posting jobs, you kind of had to find where the jobs were, or you got offered one... and they said, “We’ve offered it to all of our current hall directors who are returning, and they are all in law school or various things, they don’t want to do that. But we thought you would be one that could an area coordinator. You’ve got good experience.” And that’s when they were asking me about supervision.
“And, you know how universities work, and we were impressed and would like to offer you an area coordinator job.” (Inaudible) live out, you know, as a real young adult couple could do. And I thought, whoa, that’s great, I’ll take it, sure. So, I said, “Yes.”

Scarpino: You were promoted before you ever showed up.

Komives: That’s right. I skipped the hall director level of what would in my field be an entry position for like three years. So, I started as an area coordinator in a complex of five residence halls that has 4,000 students, and had a staff with five hall directors, probably 50 RA’s. And protests were going on at that time and we had a sniper shooting down in the courtyard one day, and I had to decide when we evacuate buildings and when to call the police in, all kinds of fascinating… Big decisions to trust a young person to make in that context. I’ve now lost track of your question... oh, so then I was appointed chair of the search committee for hall directors for the next year. And I knew, and the committee knew we wanted very much to bring in hall directors of color. And we had a terrific candidate, a young man from a major university master’s program, a really outstanding black applicant, had been an RA, had great experience, came and wowed everybody. He was just outstanding. And I go in to make the recommendation to the assistant director, who would then decide of the candidates we brought in, and he had met with all of them, who we would hire, and we recommended this be the candidate that we hire. And he said, “It pains me to say this, but I don’t think Tennessee is ready for that yet, and, so, I’m not going to be able to approve that hire.” And I just collapsed. I said, “How could you not tell me that before we as a committee… we needed to deal with that at the time... I mean, you said, ‘Bring me the best candidate.’ This is the best candidate, and he’s outstanding.” And was told, “No, we won’t hire, or we cannot hire,” in quotes, “that person right now.” I was furious. That was also the first time I collapsed in tears in front of a boss. We were friends, too, but I was just decimated that that would be the decision for the merits of it, for all the work we had done, you know, everything in that process. That was terrible. That was really a bad experience.

Scarpino: It also said something about the underlying attitudes toward race there.

Komives: Oh, yeah, sure, oh yeah. But I thought we were further along than that. And, usually student affairs offices are. You know student affairs are people way out front in terms of equity and things that are just. Now, another experience I had in terms of the gender experience at Tennessee. My first year I started a doctoral program, I was working full time, was an area coordinator. My husband was getting his PhD at that point in math. And, to move back to our relationship briefly, I learned in our relationship when we were back at Florida State, there’s a difference in being a math major and being a mathematician. And he was a mathematician. He took tests in ballpoint pen. And I went in with, like, four No. 2 pencils with great erasers. So, I’m the math major and he’s the mathematician. And he would just sit there and think these things through in his head then start writing it down. I never was that level of mathematician as Mike was. But he was in the doctoral program, so all we did was play bridge and study. So I decided I was going to start a doctorate because I could do it free, and because I was on campus, I could walk right out of my building across the street to the College of Ed and take courses even in the afternoon, you know, because I was going to get work caught up, no matter what. So, they encouraged me to do that. And my advisor was the vice chancellor of Student Affairs. He was on the faculty in the Ed Leadership, which is ed admin and supervision. When I got to the dissertation stage, I designed a dissertation in leadership. I wanted to study the perceived leadership of the senior student affairs officer and its effect on the department head’s morale and job satisfaction. So, I did a systems management kind of study, senior leadership, morale job satisfaction, got into all that literature, loved it. So, I was actually doing a leadership dissertation. And my four committee members, all men, and one was a young man, so he was being socialized into how you become an assistant professor and be on doctoral committees. I liked him very much. I had my leadership course from him. I actually had a grad-level leadership course in 1971 at the University of Tennessee.

Scarpino: That was relatively unusual at that time.

Komives: Yeah, but you know, ed-leadership people though, superintendents and principals, everybody else in the class were K-through-12 folks, going to be superintendents or principals. But they were learning leadership work, that I then picked that as my doctoral program for that reason... of leadership. And, so, my committee was gathering, and I knew that this young man thought he was being smart to ask the really wiseacre kind of question, but he said, “I want you to tell us why we should devote all of our time and energy on you as a doctoral student when you’ll probably just quit work and have kids anyway and start a family and not ever use this degree?” And, as I gasped in to start to answer the question, boy, having a great advisor is wonderful, he moved right in on that, and he said, “That’s an inappropriate question to ask this candidate. This is a serious doctoral candidate. She is here. And if you don’t think you can work with her, we can get another member of the committee.”

Scarpino: Good for him.

Komives: And good for him. I didn’t have to even, I mean, I was intaking my breath after shaking my head.

Scarpino: Was he kidding? Or was he just trying to get a rise out of you?

Komives: No no, no, no, oh no no no no. He thought he was doing what -- In toxic male masculinity culture, he thought he was doing what a guy should do, to be saying, do I deserve a place as a female in the doctoral level of any organization? Now, at the same time...

Scarpino: Now that says something about education and gender relations, and all the layered activities.

Komives: I was at the nexus of things nationally that were happening. When you said, what events mattered in those early career days, Title IX happened, Affirmative Action happened, but all kinds of things were occurring. And at one point, the University of Tennessee was getting -- all universities added layers of administrative jobs because all the federal regs you had to track, and the things that were happening. So at this point, they promoted me to be assistant director of Res Life, and this is a 9,000-bed space residence hall system with 550 employees, and at that point a $5 million-dollar budget, which was huge even in that era, major management operation. The maintenance things all reported to me. The mattress replacement programs and the painting schedules and the duct cleaning on the buildings, as well as the staff and the students and all of those parts, so I was assistant director during part of that. The director left and they said, “Would you be the acting director while we do a national search for a director?” And I said, “Yeah, we can handle that.” And I heard myself even saying “we” at that point, because the other area coordinators and the other assistant director, we were a great team. We were a flat-hire. We trusted each other. We were real good together. And I was going to be the person that was the director, but we were going to do it. I knew we could do it. And they were all thrilled, and said, “Oh, we’re glad they asked you. I don’t want to do that... and that’d be fine.” So, I became the acting director. Well, I was in that job for about a month when the new vice chancellor for administration wanted to come down and visit with me. And he was setting up a strategic planning committee I heard or something, so I thought, okay, you know, as Res-Life person I’m going to be on a committee. So, he came down and he said, “I wanted to talk to you, because we need to get more women into senior level administration. We got dinged by our accreditation on ‘the only women with management and budget experience” – and this is just no University of Tennessee, I mean, that’s everywhere, this is not just there by any means – were the dean of the College of Nursing, the director of the Student Union, budget operation of the union, and me, as the 27-year-old acting director of Residence Life. And he approached me, and he said, “I would like to offer you the position of assistant vice chancellor for Administration for Budget and Strategic Planning, to help us lead the institution forward and everything.” And he gave me wonderful compliments and feedback. Of course, at this point, I’m thinking, I’m good, I’ve always been told I was good. And I did good things. Things went well for me. And, I said, “I need to think about that overnight, I’m just floored by that offer.” And I said to him, “Isn’t that sad that the only women you can name at the university, you pull in somebody 27 years old at this level? But how good that you are looking to do that. You know, that’s wonderful.”

Scarpino: It’s a good thing that he knew who you were.

Komives: Well, yeah. So, the next day I called him, and I said, “No, I don’t want that job. I want to work with students.” I could see a career that would then go into that, and I’d be a president very young or something. I could actually see that happening. I did an interview later for presidency, but not out of that route. And I said, “But I want to work with college students and their success and their growth, and do the student affairs things. If this was an assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, I’d be saying yes in a heartbeat. But it’s not going to take me in the directions that I now see I would want to go.” And so we talked about that, but I actually knew then what I wanted, and that solidified it overnight for me, to turn it down. And turning down something is as important in your career because of the pathways that then happen to you.

Scarpino: To be self-aware enough to know where you want to go.

Komives: But the same institution, and it doesn’t mean it’s a sexist institution. Well, everything then basically would be sexist or racist just by definition with how the systemic kinds of patriarchy and things work. But I had experiences then with racism and with sexism, and also some with the opportunities being given because of elevating women, in this case, to roles. So, I had a variety of terrific experiences.

Scarpino: I want to follow up on something you said, but before I do that, you’ve just in the same sentence mentioned, in your experiences as a much younger person 27 years old or whatever, about racism and sexism. As you think about the years since then, how have institutions of higher learning changed or not in those areas? Have they gotten better? Are they the same? Are they worse?

Komives: I think the big answer to that question is that everything has gotten better. The rising tide of all of that improving has lifted all boats. So, everything is better. Women are in all aspects of the institution, people of color are certainly everywhere. And, yes, there still exists sexism and racism and systemic racism. We still have structures of patriarchy, but now we’re into micro inequities, and now we’re also into, some things that are still blatant certainly, but we’re digging deep in that hole to say where at some profoundly deep levels do we need to be addressing this? There’s still faculty with a curriculum that if they looked at it, they would be surprised to see it’s all white authors and scholars whose work they’re having their students read, and nobody out of any other traditions or voices in that scholarship. And they hadn’t even thought about it. This is what they were taught and they learned and these are good scholars and it’s great work. Really good work. But it’s leaving out voices and the lived experience in American culture that we need to be learning about. So, curriculum transformation is still needed everywhere. When we offer leadership programs, and we don’t stop to think, is this accessible to the very people we’re trying to reach? Or are the approaches in the words we’re using… For example, leadership minors where it’s first-come first-serve, and then the three fraternity brothers show up to register 10 people each out of their own chapters because they want to get in, and it’s all the slots are filled. I mean, the things that still happen, and hazing things... So, yes, there are still issues where, and the struggle continues. I would say this, I have a lot of hope for everything. And critical hope would be that I can see through community and through caring, we’re going to be using equity approaches to look at the struggles ahead for making everything better for as many people, or all people, as we can.

Scarpino: In terms of leadership training, where do you think, on average, leadership training programs stand with including different voices and a range of lived experience in their training?

Komives: It’s a more complicated answer than it may sound.

Scarpino: That’s good, go for it.

Komives: Yeah... and it’s evolved. Leadership, I’ve certainly written about this too, leadership was largely for elite students, and by that, I mean like President’s Leadership Council class. So, you’re already a president of something, and you get more – my friend Julie calls that polishing the diamonds. You’ve already got a leadership role, and then people work with you to make it even better. So, we largely initially had elite experiences that were, (a) theoretical or even anti-theoretical but were good practices and characteristics and traits. And what’s happened is, a democratization of those programs, so you see leadership minors and majors, and retreats, and emerging leader programs, and anybody is welcome. There are opportunities with the multicultural center, with the black student union group. So, there’s social identities that get special opportunities for leadership within communities of color. There are women’s programs. Some campuses just have such a rich array of things. Is it reaching all the right people? Probably not. And some of that is the language we use, where someone might not want to stand out and go to something that says you’re going to be a leader, while somebody else does. So, we need to find other ways to approach it. Like, be a person who makes a difference, or learn to be a change agent. Or, how can activism help you in your future career. All those are leadership development things, but you have to appeal to people with some language they would find approachable to bring them in and to make those processes work. So, I think a lot of things are a lot better. Most every campus has leadership somewhere now in the mission of the institution in some way, like Active Citizen or Citizen Leader. Now, it varies a lot by disciplines. As disciplines try to add doing more leadership things, they are going to be bounded in some ways, intentionally or unintentionally, by how their discipline shapes their culture and by how they approach things. And what’s been really wonderful to see is how the applied fields know that, for example, engineers just don’t do engineering in a vacuum, they do it with people who are their partners in these projects. Colleges of engineering have been some of the first to adopt intentional leadership programs so that the scientists learn how to engage with people effectively. My son is one of these people. And he took a freshman leadership course at Purdue. He went in ROTC, but he took a freshman leadership course, and he called me and he said, “Mom, guess what book they’re using?” He was like, “oh no.” So, he had to hide out for like the first month not saying his last name. And then people said, “Your last name and this lady’s last name are the same?” But anyway, back to your question, I have been thrilled with seeing the openness to expanding leadership programs in lots of ways across campuses. It is not seen as a legitimate discipline by some folks. By others, it’s not a discipline, what it is is a set of competencies and capacities and skills we want our students to learn because we want our grads to be really effective out there. And so it’s more co-curricular. There are places where the academic discipline might require evidence of leadership development for re-accreditation in your students, and so they then begin adding courses and experiences. So, it varies across the board, but I’m really thrilled with this development. The passion I’m on now is, like, my last book that’s out there to the publisher, it’ll be out in March, with Julie... is a research agenda for learning leadership and development through higher education, and it takes a social justice focus. So, it is saying, how do we make sure that we’re getting experiences to the right people and that voices of those people are informing and critiquing? We’re interrogating conventional practices to say, how do we modify change, enhance make them better so they appeal to all people? And we learn more about working with each other through those practices.

Scarpino: And Julie is Julie Owen.

Komives: Yes.

Scarpino: You completed your bachelor of science degree. You stayed at Florida State. You earned a master of science in higher education, Student Personnel Administration, you got that in 1969. You’re going to switch from majoring in math and minor in chemistry to higher education in a master’s program. From the outside looking in, that looks like a huge shift in emphasis. Why did you elect to leave science behind and pursue education at the graduate level?

Komives: Well partly was the recognition that my motivated self loved going to student government meetings and to the SGA suite to do my secretary communication things.

Scarpino: SGA is Student Government Association.

Komives: Student Government Association... But I was loving all these things I was doing, and I was going to match classes because I had to finish them up to graduate with a degree, you know, it wasn’t a passion to do that. And it’s like a typical story in the student affairs field, as I got aware that the dean advising our student government group had a job doing this and approached her and said, “How did you get this job?” You know, at least I knew she got paid for it. There are people who say, “Do you get paid to do this?” But I knew it was her job. She told me then that there was a field of study that did this where you learned about student development, you learned about learning theory and counseling, and that you could learn to do that. So, I went to the Counseling Department and asked if I could talk to somebody about getting a Master’s in Counseling. You know, she had referred me, and that was one of the ways you could do it. And this wonderful woman whose name I don’t remember, and it would be someone to write a note to, she said to me, “Let me ask you as question.” And she was reading cues from me, I’m sure, this extroverted person I was, all over the place. She said, “Do you want to work with people one-to-one and help them with their problems and issues and to be better and work with them in that way? Or do you want to work with organizations and offices and the higher ed system to do programs and things so that students kind of get excited?” “Oh, I want that. That’s what I want. I would like to be good at listening and counseling, but I want that.” She said, “You want something called college student personnel, and that’s upstairs in the Department of Higher Education. And the woman you want to see is Melvene Hardee, and Melvene Hardee is the person for you to go visit.” Well, I’m a first-generation college student. My parents did not go to college. There’s a footnote to that story, too, which is fun, that I hope we get to. But, so, I went upstairs. I had no idea, number one, that I would find a... I didn’t know I wouldn’t find a faculty member sitting in her office just waiting of course to talk to me. You know, like, someone was there, and she said she’d be glad to talk. I didn’t know that was unusual. And I didn’t know she was famous. There was no Google at the time. I didn’t ask anybody about who I was meeting with, and should I know anything about her work...

Scarpino: Her name was, again?

Komives: Melvene Hardee... very famous person in our field. H-A-R-D-E-E. I didn’t know spending an hour with Melvene was really a grad school interview. I was just going, I thought, to get information. I hadn’t looked up anything, I hadn’t looked at the catalog. I just wanted to talk to somebody to learn, to teach me about this. I didn’t even know at first if a master’s came before or after a doctorate. I didn’t know which one you got first. It just didn’t occur to me that people… I didn’t know that. And I had never had a psychology class. I didn’t know affective was different than cognitive. I didn’t know some basic terms because I was in math and chemistry, not in psychology. So anyway, she interviewed me for an hour, and I got admitted. I had good grades, good senior-in-college resume with all those activities. So I kind of thought I would. I had been this golden girl all my life where all these good things were happening for me. And then I find out she only admitted five master’s students and ten doctoral -- so, it was a doctoral heavy program, and only five of us were in the master’s program – and that she was past president of the American College Personnel Association -- right now, one of the major awards is named her in NASPA, which is the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators -- and that she was this famous person. I lucked into one of the best-known programs in the country. But it might as well have been another campus, I’d never been to the College of Ed until I’m going over to find out about this program. It was another world, and therefore staying at Florida State wasn’t an issue because I was comfortable there, but also I was in a whole other world of Florida State in the College of Ed. So I got admitted and it was a one-year master’s program.

Scarpino: I noticed that you got your master’s in one year, so no thesis?

Komives: No. And it was a one-year program. Now they’re all two-year programs and usually thesis optional, but no thesis. But I did know that I would want to get a doctorate. At that point, I knew I wanted a doctoral degree, because I love learning. And, that way, I can use my stats, you know, I can use mathematics to be a quantitative researcher. And so, then, in my doctoral program later at Tennessee when I had to take all of those stat courses, they were like a piece of cake, because that was easy math.

Scarpino: You had done it.

Komives: I had done that kind of... I had done different math. I mean, algebra is different than stats...

Scarpino: For people who aren’t going to know this and might listen to this recording or look at the transcription, briefly, what is student personnel administration? What does one do?

Komives: Yes, and it’s an old name, it’s more of a dated name from that ‘50s and ‘60s era, the guidance movement, and that kind of thing. So, college and personnel, student personnel services, now we would call it student affairs, student success, student engagement. These are the people on a college campus, and there are 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States, and every college and university have admissions people that admit, they have financial aid people who help students with their finances, they have career development people, they have counseling people. They have health people at college health centers. They have intramural recreation people. They have student activities people. They have multicultural center directors. They have conduct officers that started out as conduct people in the origin of the field. But there are twelve or fifteen functions you can name that, no matter how big or small... in small colleges, one person may do four or five of those. You know, the admissions officer might also be the advisor to student government and something else. And in big schools, you have whole offices of student conduct, and whole offices of buildings with counseling center, director people, counseling people. So, those people all learn in their master’s and doctoral work, college student development, late adolescent development, they learn moral reasoning theory, they study ethical development. They learn how you do intentionally designed programmatic interventions to have college outcomes like critical thinking, and what the college or university is trying to achieve in its students, and design co-curricular programs and learning opportunities that help that person be successful in doing that. So they’re in Res-Life and they’re all over, so they bring a body of knowledge about why a student might be acting out very racist at a point because they haven’t yet experienced some stages of development there and help them get experiences that then they see that differently, see themselves differently. And they become more complex, they become more intentional, better critical thinkers, and we can guide the learning around all this complexity from dualistic perspectives to some that are more complex and relativistic. Still not saying to the student what you should think, but learning how to view the world in ways that would be more open instead of rigidly hold on to views that maybe you’d want to be examining for yourself. And often, that’s more liberal views toward humanity and toward people and more socially-just approaches. So student affairs people do those things, but most of them have a background in a field like this, so it’s their calling to do it this way. There are specialists in student affairs. Like only the nurse or doctor is going to give you a shot when you go in the health center, not a student affairs person. But they’re doing... a doctor in a college health center also knows they’re doing developmental education work, and then when they’re working with that student to say, “Why is it you know how AIDS is” -- when that was a concern for us, and it still is – “but how does he know how AIDS is acquired, but you’re not changing your sexual practices to do that? Let’s talk about what’s in between those two, what you know and why your behavior needs to change.” And that doctor is going to talk to them more about that because we’re there for that development of inhabiting that gap between the two, and that’s what good student affairs people do.

Scarpino: When you think about the year you spent in the master’s program at Florida State, what stands about that year in terms of your future development?

Komives: It was like I could hardly wait to get to class. I was, instead of dragging your feet into advanced algebra or something, it was... learning the, I’m a big-picture person generally, so I was learning the history of higher education and where it came from, and why we have the problems we have now, and which ones can we start to forecast we’re going to have as society also changes? I love that futurism piece of learning history. I liked how the history was teaching me, where’s this going? And how can we be the kind of administrative leaders that shape where it’s going, at least our responses to that? But it was exciting to learn all of this. So, I loved the classes I was taking. The counseling classes brought me so many skills for active listening, for getting someone to reflect their emotions back to me. I could say, “Are you angry or frustrated or disappointed? What’s the feeling you’re having about what you’re telling me?” They go, “Oh, yeah, I’m just frustrated.” I mean, I was more effective with my friends, with my family. So, I was learning capacities as a grad student that were marvelous. Forming friendships that I knew would last a lifetime because we’re all going to be in college and university work, and we’ll go to the same conferences all our life. We’ll go to ACPA every year and see ourselves grow, and our kids come along, and we’ll be family forever.

Scarpino: Did it work that way?

Komives: It did. It absolutely did. And it does now. The people around me, I’ve known some of these people forty years. Because as we started off in the association together and that was our home base. No matter where we may work, we’re still in touch, we’re on committees together, we’ve been to each other’s weddings. And someone just died last week, and people left here to go to the funeral. It’s been a life of working in a field that’s only on colleges and universities. There’s high school and all that, but we do the college pieces of that. And we see each other on a regular basis, like family reunions at conferences. So, there’s a lot of hugging and kissing in student affairs kinds of meetings where you’re seeing your dear friends you used to for or they used to work for you. I was in a meeting Thursday, the Aspen Institute brought in a bunch of people, and I knew a lot of them. They had me be a keynote speaker. I’d see some of my former students who are college presidents there, vice presidents, but I’ve known them since they were 25 years old, and now they’re a 50-year-old college president.

Scarpino: You’ve earned the Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1973. Why did you decide to go to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville?

Komives: Because Mike and I were engaged, so I was going to go where he was, and he was at the University of Tennessee. The only place I was going to be was there, unless I needed to look for a job nearby. So, I called all the offices on campus. He and I were engaged from Florida State, I stayed and got my master’s. He went there to start his doctoral program. And I was then going to go there. And that’s exactly how it worked. I called around at the university, there still was a dean of women’s office and they had some assistant dean of women positions. There’s the student union, and there was Res-Life. The Res-Life people offered me first, the job, the hall director, so I said, “Yes.” So, there I was going to go to Tennessee.

Scarpino: Generally, what is educational and administrative supervision?

Komives: It’s an academic department that offers generally just graduate degrees, master’s and doctoral. It is designed for the K-through-12 sector, largely for principals and superintendents learning administrative and leadership practices, like budgeting and strategic planning, curriculum development, those kinds of big-picture things of running a school system. I asked them when I applied to that program, “Can I do my papers on higher-ed as a system? Like, in the budgeting class, can I go and learn higher-ed budgeting, and I’ll get a lot of tutoring on my own, but I’d do my paper on higher-ed budgeting.” Oh, sure, they were happy to do that. Later, that department changed its name to Ed Leadership because that became how that field evolved. So, now, in most colleges if you see a Department of Ed leadership, it’s the principals and superintendents in the K-through-12 sector, and they have been leaders in work on urban youth, on underserved populations, on social justice work, equity work in schools and communities. They really took that issue on. A lot of school systems are certainly in urban and underserved areas.

Scarpino: You wrote a dissertation...

Komives: I did.

Scarpino: And you mentioned it earlier, but your dissertation, what was the title and what did it have to do with leadership?

Komives: The title of it was, “What Is the Effect of the Chief Senior Student Affairs Office’s Leadership on their Department Heads’ Morale and Job Satisfaction.”

Scarpino: The dissertation title is very long.

Komives: Yeah, but descriptive.

Scarpino: Descriptive, yes.

Komives: And my wonderful advisor chair, who was the vice chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Tennessee, also, he was on the adjunct faculty for this department, and he was the higher-ed person in that department. So, of course, he was the one I worked with. He got all of this buddies, they were all men, all white men, in the SEC, because Tennessee is an SEC school, Southeastern Conference of Athletics. All of them agreed that they could be studied, that they’d let Howard’s students study their leadership. And they furnished the names, and they told their departments and said, “give them permission.” They furnished me the names and addresses of all of their department heads who I then did survey research with, with measures of job satisfaction; their measures of the perceived leadership of that boss. Because (inaudible) would be perceived, what do think they’re doing, or trying to do? Then, what’s their own level of satisfaction and morale? I did that study, and it was interesting. And there were interesting findings I didn’t expect. And I asked a variety of questions, of course, that the literature leads you to would be good to inquire about, like proximity, or how frequently you interact with the person. When I asked that, it was very interesting that the people who interacted more frequently, and even in the closest proximity, had the highest levels of job satisfaction and morale. They had more access and were closer to that person than the ones who were in a remote location and saw them less frequently. The director of athletics way out there in their own athletic center only has a weekly meeting with the VP, has less knowledge base and also doesn’t have a personal relationship. There were interesting little twists like that.

Scarpino: While you’re in that doctoral program, were you involved in the practice of leadership?

Komives: Yes, and I would say two ways: One way was, we started one of the first in the country RA courses, Resident Assistant. When we picked people to be resident assistants, they go through very extensive training. I mean, they’re wonderful students, they really are student leaders, and they really want to help, and they get good benefits and all that. While we wove leadership content into that RA training, so they would actually see we expected them to be student leaders, and were helping shape the culture, and were influencing us to be responsive to students. So, we wove some of that in. The other thing I would say is, Mel Hardee had been president of this national association, and she said to all of us, “Everybody needs to get to a national association meeting this spring when they’re held.” She said, “I don’t care which one you go to, NASPA, ACPA, or a specialty one like orientation directors or career counselors. There are associations for all these groups. But get involved in something professionally so you always see the bigger picture, and see your role is to contribute to how the profession evolves and what the profession needs.” So, oh boy, yes ma’am, you know I was all for that. So, I went to ACPA that first year. Actually, in my first year I was at Tennessee, I went to the ACPA conference. And, I went to a workshop on res-life issues, and the woman who was in charge of it said to me, “We’re having a drive-in conference in November, do you want to bring a team down from Tennessee to Atlanta for the conference?” And I said, “I’ll do that. We’ll come down.” It was fun, we went down. She was chair of the director of a group called the Commission on Residents Education, and then she said, “We’re filling some slots on our directorate...” they were appointed at that point. She said, “We have a slot open in the southern region and we need a new professional. Would you like to be that person?” And I said, “Oh, that’s wonderful, let me go back and ask my supervisor if that’s okay and if they would sponsor to be able to have me go to meetings.” She said, “Wonderful, we’d love to have you do that. That’d be great for Tennessee, and it would be good for you.” So, the next conference was in Atlantic City, and I’m a member of a directorate at my second meeting of ACPA that I went to, and that grew over time, so I was already a member of it. And then by the next meeting I’m the vice-chair for convention programs for what the programs were doing. And the year after that, by the time I was at Denison, I got my doctorate at 27 and moved to Denison which we’ll pick up on...

Scarpino: In Ohio, yeah.

Komives: But, then, I was nominated and ran for vice chair of all the commissions. There were twelve of them for ACPA, so I was elected vice chair of commissions for all of them. I was about 29.

Scarpino: And that would be the United States when you say all of them.

Komives: Yes. It’s a U.S. based group. The commissions then were, you know, when I mentioned earlier, a lot of the functional areas in student affairs, of all of them, yep, and that went. My professional development was happening largely within ACPA at that point, and very early opportunities to be engaged that led to opportunities for “did you want to do a leadership role?” And I said, “Yes.” I was invited in and asked to and accepted opportunities.

Scarpino: At that point, you clearly self-identified as a leader, I mean you thought of yourself as a leader.

Komives: I did, yeah.

Scarpino: And leadership as an important element of your professional development.

Komives: Yes... and, important that I thought I’d develop it in others. So, I’m a supervisor too, and I’ve got staff that I’m wanting to be leaders as well. So, it’s how do I engage with them so that it’s us doing things, and that we message, that we have this to do?

Scarpino: At that time, was part of the way that you thought about leadership was building a team?

Komives: Oh yes. Oh absolutely, and a community. We may be talking way too much about all this, but I want to cycle back to freshman year. I sent you an article where I wrote about these, but my freshman year… Well the story is many years later Ralph emerges from our basem*nt and wants to throw away this tube of posters. He said, “We haven’t looked at these, are these yours?” I said, “Oh yes, give them to me.” They were three posters that were on my wall at my residence hall my freshman year in college. I’d save them all these years. It was like getting a letter from your former self saying, “This is little Susie, Susan at 18 is saying to you now, these things were important to me.” And I still see how they are important to me. The first one was a Japanese proverb... “none of us is as smart as all of us.” And that is so woven into all the collaborative work that I think is the only way to do things. And teamwork, and bringing someone along because their voice, or they’re different than what you would see things. So, I’ve always done that... or it’s been important to me. But it was when I was 18 years old. The other one was Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” And part of that was to make excuses for my energy and for my passion. Everything I get into I just zoom in. I love all these things. But it also started addressing for me process and how do you get people engaged, and sticking with something, and appreciating each other? So that process mattered. And the third one was by James Baldwin, and I don’t think at 18 I had any idea who James Baldwin was, but I loved the quote and I still do, which is: “Not everything that’s faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.” The realist in me, I’m this enthusiastic realist, the realist in me wants to say, “Let’s bring forward and go deep to say what’s a real issue we’re trying to solve?” Because if we can define it and address it, we’ll do better at engaging with it. We can do that. We can figure out how to do something if we can talk about the real issue.

Scarpino: Those are posters you had on your wall when you were 18.

Komives: Those were the three posters that I had on my wall.

Scarpino: I’m going to tell you what I had on my wall when I was 18. They were not, you know, not stuff I wouldn’t show to my mother, but they were like rock singers and stuff like that.

Komives: I have to tell you, I organized a speech around those at one point, just maybe even five or six years ago. The college president that had invited me to campus got up and he said, “I have to tell you the poster on my wall was Farrah Fawcett.” But I did have those three. The other I had that I usually don’t add to this conversation, or haven’t written about was, it was a Snoopy kind of poster, Peanuts kind of thing, and it said, “There’s no heavier burden than a great potential.” And that’s one I probably still need to wrestle with because I think I felt the burden of, because I thought I could do so much, didn’t mean I had to be the one that said yes to everything, and that I could do it, and I didn’t... it was a burden to know that if I said no to something, it might not get done.

Scarpino: When did you realize that weren’t really like other people?

Komives: Oh I wasn’t, well, a lot of my friends are like this.

Scarpino: That seems hard to believe. That seems like a little bit of modesty.

Komives: I maybe choose to engage with, or attract or whatever, people who are excited, want to get excited about what they’re doing and together we can accomplish something wonderful. And if we decide to do it, we’ll do it because we’re good.

Scarpino: You were in the doctoral program at University of Tennessee from ’69 to ’73, you were serving as acting director, assistant director, area coordinator of Residence Halls at University of Tennessee. And we talked about what you were doing there. How did you manage to do that and be a doctoral student at the same time? How did you keep all those balls in the air?

Komives: Yeah, well, it actually wasn’t hard. I say that because my husband was a doctoral student too, so all we did was play Bridge and study.

Scarpino: You didn’t have to explain to him what you were doing because he knew what doctoral students do.

Komives: If I wasn’t going to be a doctoral student, you know, how many times can I read New Bride magazines? Or, I did buy a Cooking for Two book at some point, and then I signed to go back to sewing, so I got my sewing machine out and bought a pattern or two and thought, this is no fun, I don’t want to do these things. I really want to go learn something new. Mel Hardee and the other faculty at Florida State were so outstanding that the quality of my master’s learning, I mean, we were reading Thorstein Veblen. We were digging deep into the history of economic development in the United States and how it influenced higher-ed, all kinds of things. So, when I got into some of these courses, I already had such a strong foundation, I could skim a lot of material, and I mean I was bringing forward things I had learned already in useful ways. I did a lot of work. I had to do a lot of writing of papers, but it was because I would go home and that’s what I would do, or have a meeting at night with students or something. But every night and weekends I typically was home being able to do the work, not a problem. I have to tell you though, writing a dissertation, this cut-and-paste...

Scarpino: Actually cutting it out and pasting it on...

Komives: And maybe you would then pay the typist, I typed well but I wasn’t going to type all of this. You’d pay the typist to go through and make a clean copy of where you were at that stage. So I was on my electric typewriter, no computers, cutting and pasting. But I had turned the TV on -- I’ve always done work with the TV on, I multitask that way, but I like it -- to the Watergate hearings. So, I’m watching Watergate, I’m watching John Dean testify, I’m watching Howard, I just forget his last night, the Republican on the committee, Howard... he’s an important story here and I’m forgetting. Baker, Howard Baker, was wonderful on the committee. And I’m typing away, and Butterfield was testifying, dissertation is happening and Butterfield says, “Well the tapes will show that...” and I went, “There’s tapes!” And everybody there was… and I went running out of the apartment, and it was right where the pool was down below, because it was an apartment, a lot of people were around the pool. And I said, “Butterfield says there’s tapes.” And everybody scattered and went back up to their apartments or places to watch the TV to see what was happening with Watergate. So, my dissertation and Watergate are a merged memory for me.

Scarpino: When I was doing my dissertation research at the National Archives was when they made the Nixon tapes available to the public on a limited basis, and people had to come in there and listen. So, it was interesting talking to some of those people.

Komives: The lineup of people...

Scarpino: I want to talk to you about your career trajectory. I mentioned in the introduction that Julie Owen, who I already talked about a little bit, described you as a “field shaper.” Do you think of yourself as a field shaper?

Komives: I do in retrospect, from where I have come as an older adult. At the time it felt like, I would say, a field co-creator. I knew I was working, and opportunity points with cutting edge people trying to advance something to make it better. We knew we were doing that. I was president of ACPA at 34 years old. The transformations happening around the knowledge basis we had, the new research that was coming out, the ways we could inform the higher-ed... there were all kinds of ways we could make a better experience for students and for our institutions. We would make sure we were doing that within the associations because we could deliver a lot of services and programs through them to help campuses be better. So, we knew we were advancing the field of student affairs. And then my interest area in leadership certainly was then growing, so that by the time I got to… as that theme in my career was developing, I actually then chose over some other opportunities to go to be grad faculty because they wanted to advance the research in leadership in student affairs, but in leadership, college student leadership development, because that theme had been developing along with these things. Like at Denison...

Scarpino: That theme of college student leadership, that really became more and more important in your professional life as you...

Komives: Yes. My job might have been being an administrator, but my interest area, like, if you gave me fifty dollars for Christmas, I probably would buy a leadership professional book. But my job might have been to be a great dean, you know, to try to be a good dean of students and deal with all the things dean of students deal with. But what I wanted to make sure I was advancing professionally and knowing and contributing to was leadership. So, if I was going to take some precious time to write a chapter of a book, it was because someone asked me to, and it was usually then on leadership. Denny asked me to write a chapter of a leadership book he was doing with ACPA, and I knew...

Scarpino: And, Denny is?

Komives: Roberts, Denny Roberts. So, I knew that it would be published, it would be worth the time to spend to write it because it wasn’t going to just get rejected by some journal editor. It was an editor of a book who wanted me to be the one writing that chapter. It gave me the excuse to dig into literature, and to put some ideas together, and use examples from practice. So, I started publishing as an administrator and did every year, do something as a chapter of a book or whatever. But it wasn’t until I got to faculty life that I had the time to do research and do long-term projects.

Scarpino: You mentioned that your son was at Purdue, and Julie Owen told me about that as well, and used the book. So, you had a son at Purdue...

Komives: No, I didn’t have a son at Purdue then.

Scarpino: No, but you have had a son at Purdue...

Komives: Yes.

Scarpino: Okay. Do you have any other children?

Komives: I have a stepdaughter... that came at Stephens. So, when we get to the Stephens years is when the children come in.

Scarpino: You have a son, and you have a stepdaughter, and I’m still amazed by something that I brought up earlier, and that was, during all the decades of your professional life - you’re an administrator, you’re a scholar, you’re a teacher, you’re a consultant, you’re a mother, you’re a wife, how did you do that? I mean, you had to keep all those balls in the air, you had to be productive in all those areas, you had to be a good mother, a good wife, a good scholar, a good dean...

Komives: Just add the word “enough” to that... a good enough mother, a good enough scholar, a good enough...

Scarpino: I find that hard to believe, but this is your answer, so... Did you ever think about all of these things that you had going on in your life, and how any one of them could’ve dominated a person’s life?

Komives: I think, I’d also say this, I really am a realist. I also know that there are seasons in life, that there are seasons when you can’t take on more things because something else has popped up to be needing more attention in your life. Bosses change and you’re getting a new supervisor, and so it isn’t the time when I’m going to go say, yes, I’ll be on a PTA committee.

Scarpino: Or the child has events or you’re on a committee at school or...

Komives: That’s right... if you realize, you make choices and there are seasons, and I could say no to some things because I knew that wasn’t the time for me to do something. The other is to pick… now, Mike and I divorced, when we get to the Denison years or talking about that, we ended up divorcing. So, in the personal life piece of this that you had brought in, I got to Stephens, and that’s where I met and married Ralph, and he had an eight-year-old daughter, so I became a stepmother right away. Now, she lived with her mom in Colorado, but she would be with us all summer, and then the Christmas holiday, New Year’s kind of thing. And we would talk weekly, and do all kinds of things, a wonderful relationship. Rachel, now is 51, she’s here. And, Rachel was an eight-year-old at that point.

Scarpino: Your stepdaughter is 51?

Komives: That’s right.

Scarpino: Mine is 29.

Komives: Our daughter, well, she’s my stepdaughter, and she was nine when we... and it was wonderful to have a little girl. I had just divorced, my big worry was, what if I never have kids? I really want to have children. I love having family. My family was a wonderful support for me, and I wanted to be that mom. My mom worked as a secretary, and was still scout leader, and so I had a mother role model, that I knew you could do it by the choice you make and by how you support each other. But anyway, so Ralph and I got married and thought we also would like to have a family, so we’d better not... my mom had just been killed in a car accident, March of 1980. We got a terrible call from my dad, “Your mother’s killed.” It was, like, “what...” I was a V.P. of the campus and thirty-three years old or something, but losing your mother at any age is terrible, literally overnight. We were on spring break and the first person I thought was, Ralph’s got to come with me down to my family, and I want him there. We got back from that funeral and all those experiences, and he got down on one knee and he said, “Life is too short, what are we waiting for? We don’t need to wait for any reason. We know it’s each other.” We had been dating five months. We had only known each other for five months. So, I went into the president and I said, “I want to tell you something.” He said, “Are you and Ralph getting married?” Ralph was the head of the Art Department at Stephens, and I was the dean of students. So, we were the campus romance. The women students at Stephens all thought it was pretty cool that we were dating each other.

Scarpino: I went to the University of Missouri, and I knew people at Stephens.

Komives: Yeah, okay. Well, we were a popular couple at Stephens. So, we decided to get married, and the president, lovely man, president said to me, he said, “I’m not surprised,” he said “actually, Sally and I were talking about it, because we figured this was going to happen sooner or later.” And there are reasons why he wanted to do this, but he said, “We would like to give you the reception in our home.” So, we were going to have a very private wedding, just immediate family because my mom had just been killed, and only have, like, ten people at this wedding. But, he said, “If we can invite the whole campus, the students and faculty, to come to the reception, because they all love you all, they just think you all are...” And he and I both knew it would be good for the campus. Faculty had just voted in a faculty union, there were all kinds of management/faculty issues. He was not a popular president with the faculty, but he loved me and Ralph and wanted to do this. And it would be a way of healing, too, an institution to come together around something human and good. And it didn’t matter if someone said, “I’ll never step foot in the president’s house on purpose,” but because it was for our wedding, “I’m going to go.” The next summer I go in and he wanted to send me to Harvard IEM Institute, the Institute for Educational Management that Harvard runs every summer. It’s for people aspiring to be VP’s and presidents. I was already VP, but he was going to send me to that and pay for that because he did wonderful professional development things for me. And I said, “Chris, I can’t go to Harvard this summer.” He said, “Are you pregnant?” I said, “Yes, I am.”

Scarpino: On that congratulatory note, we’ve been going for two hours and four minutes. I think we probably ought to take a break.

Komives: ` Yeah, is it noon?

Scarpino: It must be.

Komives: Someone was going to meet me at noon to go to lunch.

Scarpino: A little bit after, let me turn these things off.


Susan Komives: Audio & Transcripts: Oral History: Research: Tobias Leadership Center: Indiana University (2024)
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Name: Tyson Zemlak

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Apt. 662 96191 Quigley Dam, Kubview, MA 42013

Phone: +441678032891

Job: Community-Services Orchestrator

Hobby: Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Metalworking, Fashion, Vehicle restoration, Shopping, Photography

Introduction: My name is Tyson Zemlak, I am a excited, light, sparkling, super, open, fair, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.