Photos by Judith-Daly Brister Knabe
Competitive – that is the word that Carolyn Vos Strache’s peers chose to describe her as she stood in front of them to receive the 2018 Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Vos Strache received the award Tuesday at the Women in Leadership Banquet after 38 years of serving the Pepperdine community. She stood at the front of department heads and executive faculty in the Mozilo Dining Center to deliver a message about what it means to be a woman in leadership.
“Women need to be willing to sit at the table and offer ideas,” Vos Strache said.
Over the years, Vos Strache has held each of the following positions: Tenured professor of Sports Medicine and Physical Education, director of the Physical Education and Sports Medicine program, assistant dean, associate dean, dean of academic administration, chairperson of the Natural Science Division and current Director of the London program.
She said her experience has taught her to fight for what she wants and to not be complacent. Her peers describe her as competitive because she is constantly pushing them to do more and do better.
“Your  years of service to this place is characterized by a competitive spirit unmatched,” said Michael Feltner, dean of Seaver college.
Vos Strache’s affinity for mentorship was one of her most commended qualities.
“If you were fortunate enough to have Carolyn as a colleague, you had a lifelong mentor,” Feltner said.
Vos Strache began her speech with an allusion to Oprah Winfrey’s Time’s Up message, but with change of direction. Vos Strache took a pragmatic approach to the Time’s Up movement.
“What are we? Both men and women, not just women replacing men, what are we going to do to change the status quo?” Vos Strache said.
Vos Strache relayed three pieces of advice to make the #TimesUp future a reality. She offered the following advice: Women must build each other, men must actively participate in this building process and we all have to develop courage.
“Lift as we climb. If we’re going to change the status quo, women have to lift other women,” Vos Strache said.
Vos Strache stressed the importance of equality being a co-ed fight. “We, all of us, men and women, need to develop courage”
Vos Strache then relayed several pieces of advice as a means of developing this courage:
Be courageous in solving problems; Be a player, not a victim, and celebrate good behavior; Make others want to be on your team; Mentor one another; Form a good support system; Support your boss and make their jobs easy, it’s okay to make them laugh; Pursue excellence in quality over honor; Acknowledge weaknesses and fill them with people who are strong in that area; Understand money; Communicate face-to-face whenever possible.
Vos Strache encouraged women to invest time in learning how to handle money.
“I believe that understanding money and budgets are underrated sources of power for women in leadership,” Vos Strache said.
Vos Strache’s final encouragement was to handle problem solving in leadership with the common english phrase “See it, say it, sort it,” meaning that people in positions of power should acknowledge a problem head-on, even if they are unsure how to solve it.
At the conclusion of her speech, the room gave a standing ovation and Vos Strache was presented with the award. Julianne Smith, professor of English, confirmed Vos Strache practices what she preaches.
“She really does practice all of those things. If there’s a problem, she confronts it head on and she makes something happen and she does it with so much energy. She’s really a role model for women’s leadership in that way,” Smith said.
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