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The new leading lady

Contributing Reporter

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010

Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010 01:09

The new leading lady

File photo| The Houstonian and Photo courtesy of SHSU Communications

SERVING THE UNIVERSITY: From 2001 to 2009, nearly $275,000 of campus buildings were constructed under Former President James F. Gaertner’s leadership (left). The new president, Dana Gibson (right), who served as the former vice president in finance and operations since April 2009, is the first female president in the universitiy’s 131 year history.

For the first time in 131 years, a woman will begin her role as the university's 13th President.

Selected by the board of regents and endorsed by her predecessor, Former President James F. Gaertner, Dana Gibson, Ph. D. officially begins her term Sept. 1.

"I am very excited to be taking on this role," Gibson said. "Sam Houston has a proven record of strong leadership as it has had only 12 presidents in its 131 year history."

Since April 2009, Gibson served as the vice president of finance and operations.

Before coming to SHSU, Gibson was the first female President of California's second largest not-for-profit institution, National University.

"I think my previous experience at a private university is beneficial because of the changing ways that public universities are looking at various sources of funding," she said. "Dr. Gaertner has done a great job raising money for the university."

Gibson, who is also the former vice chancellor for administration and finance at the University of Colorado at Denver, as well as the former vice president of business and finance at Southern Methodist University, is looking forward to being in a more active role on campus.

 "With finance, you are behind the scenes," Gibson said. "The president's role gives you the ability to go to things. It gives me a variety of ways to participate more with student activities."

Having experienced several other college atmospheres, Gibson believes part of the success of SHSU is due to the culture and tradition on campus.

 "I feel that SHSU is special in the way that the faculty and staff are very interested and invested in each student's success" Gibson said. "It's not just what they teach; it's how much the faculty are dedicated to helping the students. It's a nurturing environment. It's not that other campuses don't have that, it's just very strong here."

Among Gibson's plans for the university are to build new and improved facilities. She also hopes to create nursing programs and more sciences.

"We need to replace aging facilities," Gibson said. "We need to create additional graduate programs and continue to build on what we started."

When she is not in the office, Gibson spends her time playing golf or helping out in the community.

"Golf to me is one of those things where I must stay focused on the game," Gibson said. "I can't think about all the work stuff. When I go running or walking, my mind is still able to think about work. But in golf my mind is focused on one thing. It separates me from the office."

She is also active in civic and charitable causes, including serving on the boards of Huntsville Memorial Hospital and working with Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

"I feel the hospital is very important to the community," Gibson said.  "And any way I can help with that, helps the community. I like to work with agencies that deal with issues for children. I have also worked with the YMCA in Denver."

Gibson graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business-accounting and a Master of Business Administration from Texas Woman's University, where she also taught accounting and management information systems as a professor and lecturer. She earned her doctorate in business at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"I just cannot emphasize enough that the culture here in Huntsville and on campus doesn't exist everywhere," Gibson said. "It exists, but it's rare. The traditions and culture make up the foundation of Sam Houston State University. It was here before I came to this campus, and it will be here long after I am gone."

Gibson will address the faculty and staff on Thursday, Sept. 2, during the annual "State-of-the-University" address in the new Performance Arts Center.


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