Dean of the school of social sciences, education and business empowered women in leadership on campus
By Annabelle Blair | Echo
“I really hope students consider what God’s plan is for them, not just with personal relationships but to be used in a profession or leadership role.”
Along with her position as dean of the school of social sciences, education and business, Connie Lightfoot started and led the group, Leadership Explorations for Women (LEW), for three years. LEW prompts conversation among female department chairs and administration—many of whom are beginning their careers as leaders.
“She is not afraid of hard decisions or situations, but approaches them with a spirit of grace,” said colleague Mary Rayburn. “She has modeled quality and Christ-like administration, especially for women aspiring toward careers in higher education administration.”
Lightfoot graduated from Taylor in 1975 with a degree in computer science and returned in 1982 to teach and serve for eleven years. After leaving Taylor again to pursue other opportunities, she never thought she’d return. However, in 2008 Lightfoot accepted the position she has today.
“I like to smooth the path before the faculty and department chairs—so anything I can do to make their lives better,” Lightfoot said. According to Lightfoot, the most important thing she does is hire faculty members who are the right fit for Taylor.
Lightfoot is a first generation college student, and she said she never thought about a career in higher education. An invitation to apply for a teaching position from the chair of the computer science program at Taylor shocked her. “It wasn’t normal in the ’80s for Christian women with children to work,” she said. “It was a really big step, but we felt God was leading, and it was the right choice for me.”
Meeting her husband here is one of her favorite memories at Taylor. Her three daughters and each of their husbands are Taylor graduates, and they lived very close to campus. Lightfoot said Taylor was their summer playground, and her kids grew up coming to Taylor events. Post-retirement, Lightfoot plans to spend six months decompressing and doing the things she wants to do when she wakes up in the morning. She’ll also spend more time with her grandchildren and engage in hobbies such as quilting and reading.
“She loved education, and, I think, (that) made me like it more too,” said Claire Hawkins, Lightfoot’s student fitness trainer. “She would probably be happy to know, I am now considering going to grad school eventually.”
Lightfoot is one of several faculty members retiring at Taylor in 2016.