Elaine Meyer-Lee joins Agnes Scott College as Associate Vice President for Global Learning and Leadership Development

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dr. Elaine Meyer-Lee

Agnes Scott announced the appointment of Dr. Elaine Meyer-Lee as Associate Vice President for Global Learning and Leadership Development to lead an exciting new curriculum initiative called Summit. Beginning in Fall 2015, every Agnes Scott student will build her leadership skills and deepen her global understanding through an integrated sequence of courses and immersion experiences, including a faculty-led global study course in the spring of her first year. Guided by a personal board of advisors, every student will design an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that allow her to specialize in either leadership development or global learning within her chosen major.

President Elizabeth Kiss and her fellow members of the Summit Secretariat agree that Meyer-Lee’s background and professional experience make her the perfect person to lead Summit, and Kiss expressed her enthusiasm about Meyer-Lee’s new role in her announcement to the Agnes Scott community. “Dr. Meyer-Lee will bring to Summit a truly remarkable combination of experience and expertise in the fields of global learning and leadership development, as well as a deep understanding of and appreciation for the value and power of women’s colleges,” Kiss said.

A graduate of Earlham College, Meyer-Lee earned a master’s degree in psychology at Lesley College and a master’s and doctorate in human development and psychology at Harvard University. Since 2003, she has served as the Director of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, and as one of the original staff members she helped build the nascent project into a thriving and renowned academic center. CWIL’s mission is to empower women to realize their call to leadership and to develop intercultural knowledge and competence, promoting human transformation and systemic change by providing challenging, justice-based educational opportunities. “The parallels between the vision for the Summit initiative and that of CWIL are truly uncanny,” Meyer-Lee said. “I am very excited to join something philosophically similar to what we accomplished at Saint Mary’s and help take it to scale to benefit the entire student body here at Agnes Scott.”

Meyer-Lee’s own experience as a college student studying abroad in both France and Haiti first inspired her interest in cross-cultural learning. Her passion for women’s education and leadership development is rooted in her time spent volunteering as a counselor for battered women. Her graduate education examined issues of both international and domestic intercultural learning through the lens of feminist theory, and she became convinced of the power of education to empower women and combat ethnocentrism of all kinds. As academic institutions began to focus increasingly on domestic cultural diversity and global education, but as separate entities, Meyer-Lee saw synergies between the two disciplines. “All along I had a foot in both of these worlds,” Meyer-Lee said. “At the time that I started in the field they were pretty distinct—now we see them coming together more and more.”

Meyer-Lee believes that Agnes Scott’s new Summit initiative offers a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the intersections between domestic multiculturalism, international cross-cultural learning, and leadership development. “Elaine is the ideal person to lead this initiative,” noted Dr. Kerry Pannell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. “As a Fulbright recipient and nationally recognized leader in international education, she will help us prepare every Agnes Scott student to be an effective change agent in a global society.”

Meyer-Lee believes Summit represents “exactly the type of educational innovation that the liberal arts can do best,” and is excited to become a part of this bold and invigorating new approach at Agnes Scott. Among her goals for the first year is to get the word out across the country about all the distinctive possibilities Summit creates. “The beauty of this kind of initiative is that it can be a catalyst for change at all levels,” Meyer-Lee said. “That’s been my experience—our success will create a hub of energy that leads to exciting new ideas and opportunities here at Agnes Scott, for women leaders in the greater Atlanta region, and throughout our peer institutions.”

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.