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The Genderational Gap, Part 2 Mentoring helps build more confident leaders

Nancy Blattner, the president of Caldwell University.-(PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

In 2002, Nancy Blattner moved away from her hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for the first time.

She was 44.

It was a big undertaking, but it was for a noble cause: to learn how to become a better female mentor.

“I believed then, and still believe now, (that female leadership) differs somewhat from male leadership and mentoring,” said Blattner, the president of Caldwell University.

She had worked her way up from teaching assistant to tenured professor at Southeast Missouri State University. And when she received a national fellowship from the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., to work with and be mentored by Dr. Patricia Cormier at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, for the academic year, she knew she had to jump on the opportunity.

It was, after all, the first time in her 15-year career she’d be mentored by a female.

“Now, as a female in a leadership role, I believe it is necessary for me to mentor other females, whether they are students or staff,” Blattner said.

“I also believe it is important to provide professional development and leadership training experiences for females.”

It certainly made a difference for Blattner.

During her fellowship, the position of associate provost opened up late in the academic year and she was asked to stay. In summer 2004, she was appointed the vice president and dean for academic affairs at Fontbonne University in St. Louis. The job helped prepare her to become president of Caldwell University (then Caldwell College) in 2009.

Blattner considers having a female mentor as a key turn in her career.

Meg Fry

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