college’s strategic plan and organizational
structure to address this new reality, and
prepare the college for the future?
“I came up with a couple examples,”
he says. But they weren’t far-reaching enough, the chair told him. So he
What he came up with was an
opportunity to harness his competencies
around collaboration and communicat-
ing with the college’s stakeholders to find
an answer that would work. He formed a
Next Generation Task Force, made up of 25
of the college’s “most forward-thinking,
The ideas the task force came up with
“brought me to tears,” Sygielski says.
“It’s unbelievable the thoughts and
innovation they’re going to deliver in
the March board of trustees meeting,”
he says. It will ruffle some feathers, he
said, because the plans will change the
traditional way a community college
works. But that is part of a community
college CEO’s role today, he adds.
“We can’t keep doing business as
BLUEPRINTS FOR AMBITION
usual,” he says. “Leaders can’t be the
leaders of even five, 10, 20 years ago.
There’s a new leader that’s required, to
put a blueprint together for the future.”
In retrospect, Lone Star College-Tomball
President Nutt says that college leadership
meets her own personal needs—to feel
involved, to connect to something bigger
than herself, to make a difference in the
lives of others.
“I just know it’s what I’m supposed to
be doing,” she says now. “There’s a peace
that comes with that.”
It’s a passion Nutt and her Chief
Strategist Jackie C. Thomas, Jr., share.
For as long as Thomas can remember,
he’s known he’s “wanted to be some-
one’s boss—but not from the want to be
“It was for the opportunity to grow
and develop people to help them become
better, and using that individual growth
to span the organization, to make an
awesome organization,” he adds.
But Thomas is a planner, and, as his
title suggests, strategic about everything he does. For a long time, Thomas
thought he wanted to be a university
president. But when he found a position
teaching at the Tomball campus, he was
hooked on becoming a college president.
So Thomas got ahold of the latest
version of the competencies—then, the
second edition—and drew up a spread-sheet. Under each of the then-six focus
areas, he listed the competencies, and
then added check boxes for him to
evaluate his own state of readiness in
that skill: novice, competent, proficient,
expert, mastery. And then, in the next
column, he listed evidence of his success and steps he could take to grow in
He listed himself as a novice in
institutional fundraising, for instance,
but suggested that attending the
CASE Conference on Young Alumni Lone Star College-Tomball President Lee Ann Nutt uses the competencies to build on her strengths.