Marilyn Amey’s role as an administrator is beautifully tied to her scholarship. Throughout her career, Marilyn’s research has focused on leadership and organizational change in higher education. She has been at MSU since 1997, following faculty positions at the University of Kansas and Penn State. Marilyn is in her 12th year as chair of our Department of Educational Administration, and says her research and other literature in the field inform her work in this position.
The department consists of three programs: Education Policy, K-12 Administration & Leadership, and Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education (known as HALE). The policy program, formed 15 years ago, moved to the department four years ago, and it has an exceptional reputation. In fact, all three of the department’s doctoral programs are ranked in the top 10 by US News and World Report, and the HALE program is currently ranked #1 for the first time.
During Marilyn’s time as chair, the faculty have increased from 17 to 27 members. Strategic growth has enhanced the scholarship and training offered by the unit, as well as the diversity of the faculty. It has also presented some challenges related to communication and connectivity. As online and international work have increased, and the unit has focused on “outreach scholarship” (connecting with educators outside of MSU), it has become harder to bring people together to build a cohesive community within the department. With an increase in junior faculty and only six full professors, assignments of formal, senior mentors can be difficult. Marilyn has cultivated a highly collegial environment with an emphasis on informal and peer mentoring.
She also personally connects in important ways with all of her faculty, for example in meetings with pre-tenure individuals two to three times per semester. In conversations with all members of her department each year, Marilyn focuses on goals and what they need to be successful. “The best thing you can do is to figure out how to say yes,” she indicated. Marilyn is clearly dedicated to all of the people in the department – faculty, staff and students. The unit supports a culture of equity, in which the missions are considered collectively and the full range of contributions is valued.
Marilyn sees the best part of her job as empowering people to “do the work they want to do and feel good about it”. She says she has “fabulous colleagues” and believes she has “landed in a terrific place”.