DR. KRISTINE STRICKLAND CREATES A LEARNING HAVEN AT FLETCHER
Fletcher Technical Community College continues to grow and evolve (looking to break ground on a new building at their campus in Schriever this year and continuously expanding their program) under the watch of Dr. Kristine Strickland, who has always put education and students first since she took over as chancellor three years ago.
This comes as no surprise, as Dr. Strickland has been an educational leader since she was a young child.
“I grew up always wanting to play school and make kids do homework…I was that kid in the neighborhood. I was real popular; I’m sure you can imagine,” the Ohio native laughed. “I always wanted to be a teacher. I always admired my teachers coming up all the way through school.”
Originally wanting to teach high school English while getting her bachelors from Ohio University, as Dr. Strickland continued her education, she gained more appreciation of student life in higher education and took on administrative roles.
Moving to Louisiana in 1993 to take on the Residence Hall Director position at Tulane University, she later went on to have an illustrious and celebrated career in Louisiana higher education serving as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Development at Our Lady of Holy Cross College; Vice President for Student Services and Student Financial Assistance with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System; and Executive Dean for the West Bank Campus at Delgado Community College—where she also was the head of the Office of Student Financial Assistance.
Prior to being chancellor of Fletcher, she was the Dean of Students at the college for a few years and later returned when the position of chancellor opened. “It was an institution that I had really enjoyed and loved working at, and I loved the community,” Dr. Strickland said on the decision to return.
During her journey through the various colleges she held such high positions in, Dr. Strickland said, she always has been afforded the opportunities to break barriers. She goes in headfirst—which she attributes to her big personality and growing up with five older brothers.
While in graduate school, the university chose her to be the first woman hall director of an all-male residence hall. “It [breaking barriers] has been wonderful for me in terms of my own development,” she explained.
Although she has had many ups as a woman pioneer in higher education, Dr. Strickland noted it has also come with its fair share of adversity. “Earlier in my career I worked at an institution where I wore a pantsuit and was told by somebody in the organization that I would never advance because I wore pants,” she remembered.
“I was in a meeting, sort of earlier in my career. I was the only woman in the room, and the men in the room kept interrupting me mid-sentence. And I would sit dutifully,” Dr. Strickland also recalled. “Then, a couple meetings later, and I was back in the same room with the same group. One of the men was talking and I interrupted him and he stopped the meeting and said, ‘I cannot believe that you dared to interrupt me.’ What was interesting about it was, I don’t even think he realized that they continually did that to me…”
Dr. Strickland, however, was never scared of adversity and always persevered because of her love of higher education and betterment of student life.
“Find your passion, pursue it with your heart, and you’ll be successful. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone,” she said for aspiring women in all fields. “I look around every day and see women breaking more and more barriers.” •
BY DREW MILLER