Nannette Glenn, ACU’s dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, believes in the value of hard work and dedication. With her bachelor’s in education from the University of North Texas, dual master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctoral degree from UT Austin, Dr. Glenn is not only a well-decorated scholar but also a respected administrator and educator across various school districts within the state of Texas.
Known for her faithful service and drive to improve curriculum, Dr. Glenn believes in inspiring the next generation of African American women, students of color, and educators.
In this Q&A, Dr. Glenn shares her goals for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies and her passion for assisting students of color in higher education.
Who or what inspired you to get into education?
I actually grew up and graduated high school from Abilene, Texas. My parents worked within the Abilene Independent School District as school administrators. I have a lot of family members that are educators. Seeing them involved and working in education from a young age kind of helped me understand the gifts that I have in terms of the Spirit and the roles of teaching and mentoring. You know, my father was also a principal during his career, so following in those footsteps toward the beginning of my career was really inspiring and helpful. Having that kind of support system from my family is what really made me continue in education until today.
Describe your job in a nutshell.
My job oversees the College of Graduate and Professional Studies in terms of our curriculum, its development, and its impact on faculty and students. I have the responsibility for ensuring that students have the right types of programs, courses, things of that nature and that students are engaged with faculty. On top of that, being able to work with faculty, coach faculty, and carry out the administrative part of my job – ensuring all the ‘t’s are crossed and ‘i’s are dotted with regard to policy and paperwork. All of that is really something that I enjoy, so being over those aspects of the whole college is generally what I do.
What are some goals you have for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, itself?
That’s a good question! A goal I have is to give students a really good experience. I want them to go through their program with faculty members who are effective and innovative in the classroom. One of my other goals includes recruiting more faculty members of color so that the students can relate to us and know ‘Hey, there’s somebody here that looks like me that may understand what I have been through or am going through.’ Being able to give that kind of mentoring or hope is important, so anything that I can do to help young men and young women get involved and achieve those goals as a mentor is something I want to do. Overall, my hope is that the college continues to grow and that we develop new programs and partnerships.
Why do you think it’s important to have more African American women in higher education administration?
We really need more African American women in higher education, especially in administration, because that’s where the policies and decisions are made. If you are not at the table, you cannot help contribute to or address the needs of students, especially minority students.
What do you suspect the future will be like for higher education?
I think it is going to be very challenging. Most of our students at ACU Online are different from the residential campus. We have students who are working adults. Our average age of student is about 34-35 years old and, most likely, has a family and/or is married. Forty percent of students who are in programs like ours across the country meet this criterion. I think that the landscape is going to have to adapt to that because as more and more working adults decide to either get a degree or certificate in their field to grow and progress in their jobs, we’re going to have to meet the needs of those students. The industry has to adapt, change and be agile.
How do you see ACU catering to the educational needs of students of color?
There are a lot of historically Black colleges and universities. There are a lot of Hispanic- serving institutions and Tribal-serving institutions, so there are institutions that specifically and historically serve those populations. However, many of those students are now coming into more predominantly white institutions, such as ACU and others. And those kinds of students are in all types of institutions, and we must adapt to that, as I said before. One of the things that I noticed is that we have a lot of students who are coming in that may have a skills gap. They were in high school 20 or 25 years ago, are first-generation college students, or are underserved students in a minority culture. That’s why we, especially at ACU, are trying to serve and meet their needs through more effective tutoring and support services that utilize wellness to help students in this area. Because of all the things that they’re bringing to the table (like family, job challenges, health), it’s almost like a sandwich generation, where students have aging parents and young children, and so are caught in the middle. There’s a need to help these students, and I hope that as we learn more about how to help these kinds of students, we will be able to address their needs and keep them in school more successfully.
What do you wake up and go to bed thinking about?
Usually, when I wake up, I think about whatever I have to do that day, and more importantly, whatever God is leading me to do. I’m very passionate about my faith and the things God has for me to do. When I go to sleep, I think, ‘How have I done something today that has benefited someone else? Did I leave this world in a better place today than when I woke up and saw it?’ That’s very important to me because I think that is what I’m supposed to do as a Christian; to do the things that are pleasing to God and to love my neighbor as myself.
Want to be a part of a diverse Christian university building the future of higher education? Join Dr. Glenn and countless other faculty and staff at ACU Online. For more information about ACU Online, visit www.acu.edu/online.