Celebrating the Retirement of Dr. Patricia Greer
Dr. Patricia Greer, academic director for the Strategic Human Resources and Organizational Leadership programs, retired at the end of September after 11 years of working at University College. She impacted her students and colleagues, and played a pivotal role in many communities. We asked Dr. Greer about her time here at University College and what she has planned for retirement.
Q: You have been working at University College for the last 11 years as academic director for the Strategic Human Resources and Organizational Leadership programs, what have been some highlights of your tenure?
There are many highlights over the past 11 years. Several come to mind, including the creation and recognition of both programs (ranking as top 10 master’s degrees in their respective areas!). I enjoyed working with the advisory boards when we did programmatic changes for the Organizational Leadership program, and when we decided to build the Strategic Human Resources program from scratch. The advisory board that worked with me to create the foundation of the new Nonprofit Leadership program was fun— and that program is creating quite the impact.
I have the best group of adjunct professors for both programs— recognized professionals in their fields, and so willing to give to our students. It was such a pleasure to work with them on continually renewing and assessing the curriculums.
Watching students be successful after the completion of their program is always rewarding and thrilling. At the twice-a-year hooding ceremony, I was able to share the graduates’ thoughts about the programs. The impact of the students’ words will remain with me. There were so many successes: first generations, people changing careers, those students who did their homework with their children, and reading about people fulfilling life long goals and dreams. It was humbling to be the director of a program that added so much to the life of our graduates!
For me personally, I earned my Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. It was challenging to go to school while working full-time, yet it was a constant reminder of the daily struggle of our students to also work full-time and work to attain a degree. I worked with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition to create a partnership for advocacy training for a segment of the population that needs a voice for legislation and processes to serve them authentically. I was also honored to receive the Champion Award from the Colorado Nonprofit Association for my work in the nonprofit community while at DU— one of only four ever given.
Q: You were part of several committees on campus, including University College’s Diversity and Inclusivity Committee and Values Committee. Can you talk about the significance of this work and why it’s so valuable for organizations to consider?
Inclusivity and diversity work is hard because it is not as clear what that entails, like learning how to read a cash flow statement. But it is important work as the nature of work evolves to each person in the workplace having value, and voice, and the ability to contribute at the highest level. It is critical because of changing demographics, where historically marginalized employees enter the workforce, and the organizations that will attract and retain the best employees will be those where employees feel included at all levels. This takes work.
Q: The Organizational Leadership program has grown to be one of the largest programs here at University College. Where do you think the field is heading? Do you foresee any industry trends?
The trend I see is moving from the ides of a leader as a person in authority or position and moving to the recognition that each of us can demonstrate or provide leadership. In addition, people are hungry for ethical and values-based leadership, where they are respected and treated as worthy individuals who can be their best selves and contribute at that level in their organization, sector, or community. The organizational leadership program was developed to be a toolbox for people who will raise their hand, step forward, and provide leadership, at all levels of the organization. I think there will be a higher demand for people with a strong ethical compass, who excel at the soft skills needed in organizations, have strong self-knowledge, who are not afraid to continue to learn and grow, and will involve people at all levels of the organization in change and transformation. I feel the Organizational Leadership program develops such people.
Q: Do you have any advice for students looking for the next step in the career?
My advice is to be curious and keep learning about yourself and your organization, understand how you fit into your organization, and what gifts you bring to help your organization, and always maintain your ethics and values. For Strategic Human Resources students, certifications are essential, in addition to the more formal education. Go to conferences, present at conferences, and teach others, because that will enhance your knowledge and presentation skills. For students in both programs, remember to have interests and loves outside of work to keep you balanced and whole.
Q: Finally, what are you looking to forward to the most when you retire?
I am looking forward to having the time to do the activities that make my heart happy. My five grandchildren and my husband will be receiving a lot more quality time! It is funny, I am only retiring from my full-time job. I have some small consulting opportunities, and I am giving several presentations in the next few months on change management and collaboration processes. I am teaching a course right now and hope to continue teaching for University College. I sit on three boards, all of which do such great work. I am increasing my dog training time — I love doing K9 Nose work with my dogs. I have several writing projects that are in the works, including articles and a kid’s book. I am going for more horseback rides. Life is full of fun opportunities!