Wendy Adair speaks to Cougar Women at Work meeting
Wendy Adair and WRC staff member Gloria Smith
Wendy Adair, Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Vice President for Development Communication at the UH system and the University of Houston, was the guest speaker for Cougar Women at Work on Thursday, November 29. Wendy’s topic was Working and Advancing in the University Environment, and she knows of which she speaks! Wendy has been employed at UH for almost 30 years and has held many positions, primarily within media relations and development. She received her MBA from UH in 1990 and is currently working on a Master’s in Library Science.
Wendy has worked with 13 different Presidents at UH and says what is helpful to keep in mind with new Presidents is that you, the long-time employee, should act like you are the new person rather than them and find out what their agenda is and work to help them be successful. She believes there is a lot of opportunity for advancement at UH because we are a relatively young university and traditionally undercapitalized, which can result in a spirit of entrepreneurship, a call for creativity, and a sense of freedom. Although rural land grant institutions have their place, Wendy notes the special opportunities for urban universities such as UH. Wendy is very excited about the new President, Dr. Khator, and looks for many new and exciting opportunities for the university under her leadership.
Wendy spoke of her experiences and then opened the floor for questions. The talk was well-attended and many women wanted to know how to advance at UH and create opportunities for themselves. Wendy suggested creating your job if you can, for instance, creating a proposal, making a case for the new position and why you are the right person to fill it. As a long time marketing profession, Wendy said employees must market ourselves. She suggested that we grow our current jobs, make ourselves invaluable, and then ask for the money to compensate us for our new skills and responsibilities. If our department is unable to compensate us, she suggested we look for a department that could.
One employee noted that the university touts the diversity of our student body without making any special provisions or providing special programs. She likened it to a person walking into a field of cows and taking credit for the cows. Wendy acknowledged that the university could improve the diversity of people in the faculty and highest ranks of the administration, and says the hiring of Dr. Khator is a step in the right direction.
One employee asked about family friendly policies and the problems of balancing work and family. Wendy agreed that is a problem for many women at UH because unlike men, we don’t have wives. The crowd laughed in acknowledgement. Beverly McPhail, WRC director, was able to add that the University Commission on Women was working on obtaining more family friendly benefits and noted that the Women’s Studies department had just held a family friendly benefits symposium. Beverly also urged the participants to fill out the online Environmental Survey that directly asks about some of these issues. If we can gather the data that these are pressing needs, they are more likely to be addressed by university officials.
Another staff member inquired about increasing the monies for staff tuition scholarships and encouraging more staff to further their education.
The next event for Cougar Women at Work is a party on Thursday, December 13 at noon. This will primarily be a social gathering with no scheduled speaker. Please join us for our last Cougar Women at Work event for the year.