A Narrative Inquiry on the Life History of Betty Siegel

Known for her outstanding achievement in educational policy, Dr. Betty Lentz Siegel was the longest serving female president at Kennesaw State University. In 1981, she assumed the position at Kennesaw State University, which then was a four-year college institution with 4,000 students and 15 baccalaureate degree programs. Under her tutelage, Kennesaw State University achieved its university status with more than 18,000 student enrollees and 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs (online Golden Key International Honour Society International).
It was her vision and leadership that brought the educational institution to its current university status focusing on teamwork through the creation of strong administrative teams and group interaction. With her guidance, the institution implemented several initiatives and high profile activities that created opportunities and recognition of the institution in the local and state communities. In the book Searching for Academic Excellence: Twenty Colleges and Universities on the Move and their Leaders, Dr.
Siegel was in a limelight in her accomplishment for Kennesaw State University (online Golden Key International Honour Society International). In her 25 years of service in the institution, Kennesaw State University received numerous recognition and awards for its outstanding achievements (online Golden Key International Honour Society International). Its awards are as follows: • 1987, chosen as one of the top three college colleges and universities in its nationwide competition focusing on “The President and the Public” by the Council of Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)


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• 1989 – 1991, Kennesaw State also caught public attention as the US News and World Report acknowledges Kennesaw State’s exemplary programs in minority recruitment and retention, leadership programs for faculty, staff, administrators and students, and international initiatives. US News and World Report distinguishes Kennesaw State as the country’s “up and comers” and “rising stars” in the South’s regional institutions. • 2003, KSU received recognition to become one of twelve founding institution included in the program entitled Foundation of Excellence in the First College Year of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
In addition, this recognition also gave KSU the needed funding to pursue the projects of the RTM Institute for Leadership, Ethics Characters, which Dr. Siegel is the Endowed Chair. • 2006, US News and World Report ranked KSU as number one among the 25 educational institution known for their learning community programs. In addition, the magazine highlights the school’s first year freshman experience program. Academic Background Behind the outstanding accomplishment of KSU is Dr. Siegel’s utmost leadership, dedication, and commitment to education. Dr. Siegel’s academic areas of expertise include child psychology and administration.
Her outstanding academic achievement also marks her commitment for continuous learning. She received her Ph. D from Florida State University, A Masters in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a B. A. n English and History from Wake Forest University and an Associate of Arts from Cumberland College. She also has received her two-year post-doctoral study in Clinical Child Psychology at Indiana University. She holds honorary doctorates from Cumberland College in Kentucky, Miami University in Ohio, Eastern Kentucky University, Lynchburg College, Morehead State University, and Southern Connecticut State University.
Professional accomplishments Dr. Siegel had been an accomplished educational administrator even before coming to Kennesaw State. She started as a faculty member for several universities such as Indiana University and Lenoir-Rhyne College. And in 1967, she taught at the University of Florida. In 1971, she became the first woman Dean of Academic Affairs for Continuing Education at the University of Florida. She moved to Western Carolina University in the School of Education and Psychology in 1976 and was also the first woman to hold the position of academic dean for the University.
In 1981, she came to Kennesaw State where she has started several programs and later became the first female president. Dr. Siegel was also co-founded and co-directed a non-profit organization chartered in North Carolina since 1982. She worked with an esteemed colleague Dr. William Purkey in establishing International Alliance for Invitational Education. The organization currently has more than 12,000 members of different professionals from over twelve countries, who seek to apply the concepts of invitational education to their personal and professional lives (online International Alliance of Invitational Education).
In 1999, the Center for Invitational Leadership was created to advance the model of invitational education by offering opportunities for professional to participate in leadership development programs. Its mission is to “to enhance lifelong learning, to promote positive change in organizations, to cultivate the personal and professional growth and satisfaction of educators and allied professionals, and to enrich the lives of human beings, personally and professionally. ” (online Radford University’s Center for Invitation Leadership). Moreover, with the high-regards to the accomplishments of Dr.
Siegel, she has delivered keynote addresses at hundreds of national, regional, and state conferences throughout United States, Puerto Rico and ten other foreign countries and has lectured for over 120 colleges and universities around the world. She is an internationally- and nationally-known lecturer and motivational speaker on leadership, educational issues, and the concerns of women. She has also served as a consultant to a wide range of businesses such as educational institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, health-care services, government and socio-civic groups (online Golden Key International Honour Society International).
Public Service Dr. Siegel has also worked in community improvement programs of the government. In 1997, Governor Zell Miller appointed Dr. Siegel to represent the State of Georgia on the Southern Growth Policies Board’s 1998 Commission on the Future of the South. Prior to that, she also represented Governor Miller at the Presidents’ Summit of America’s Future held at Philadelphia in 1997. Currently, she has been appointed as to serve as member of Governor Perdue’s Commission for a New Georgia.
Her work in the commission was largely publicized as she was the driving force behind the establishment of the Cobb Education Consortium. The Cobb Education Consortium was created to form a collaborative organization among the public educational institution “to combine the resources, energies, and talents of the member institutions to address areas of common concern in moving public education in Cobb Country from its current level of excellence to the exemplary level which will be needed to prepare students to become responsible leaders, capable workers, and well-rounded human beings.
” (online Cobb Education Consortium) In addition, she also served as a chair of subcommittee on post-secondary options for the Georgia P-16 initiative. The initiative aims to a comprehensive and collaborative statewide effort aimed at raising expectations and ensuring student success from pre-school through post-secondary education. The initiative is different than other educational reform efforts because it impacts the entire educational spectrum—not just the parts. (online University System of Georgia)
Lastly, she initiated the Northwest Crescent Alliance between the three private colleges and three public institutions. The alliance was formed to develop programs of collaboration in economic development, enhancement of the arts, the preservation of Southern/Appalachian culture and history, and the development and promotion of community leadership. (online Northwest Crescent Leadership Alliance) Publications Dr. Siegel has recently co-published with Dr. Purkey entitled Becoming an Invitational Leader. The book offers a fresh and innovative model based on a single theoretical framework.
It deviates from the traditional control and dominance model of leadership to one that focuses on connectedness, cooperation and communication. This model has been adopted in the International Alliance for Invitational Education and had been applied in numerous fields including administration, business, nursing, dentistry, counseling, and other professions. Purpose of the Study Successful and well-established teacher on leadership, Dr. Siegel’s life history has been a model for many aspiring leaders. She not only teaches about leadership, but she has embodied what she has taught.
Her success has led to many researchers to examine what leadership truly is. Indeed, many have published life-stories and lessons on management’s leadership, but many have looked into it in lens following the theoretical framework of industrial management. The purpose of the study is to examine the perceptions of people surrounding the leadership during the tenure of Dr. Siegel at Kennesaw State University. We will looked at what people think within and outside Kennesaw State University’s phenomenal growth in relation to Dr. Siegel’s leadership.
By examining the perceptions of Dr. Siegel in her tenure at Kennesaw State University, trends may emerge regarding leadership attitudes and/or leadership style. In undertaking this study using narrative inquiry, we hope to answer the following questions: 1. What are events and influences that formed Dr. Siegel’s mental model and invitational leadership theory? 2. What are the factors attracted and the perceptions students and alumni with Dr. Siegel’s leadership? 3. What is the value and contribution of Dr. Siegel to the understanding of leadership? Review of Related Literature
In the book Telling Women’s Lives: Narrative Inquiries in the history of Women’s Education, Weiler and Middleton (1999) explored the broader questions of gender and power through education. They have in discussing the stories of women as teachers come across on topics of education bureaucracies, material condition of women teachers, and the ways concepts of gender and sexuality have shaped experiences of men and women in the educational state. Indeed, women had not been fairly represented in the leadership of educational institution. Dr. Siegel has been an exception and as our purpose is to understand the success of Dr.
Siegel’s, we looked at it in a different lens of leadership framework. We undertake this study using narrative inquiry to understand further the leadership model of Dr. Siegel. General Presupposition on Narrative Inquiry Stories have always been a way to pass on tradition and history of a nation. People love to tell and listen to stories. It is way we communicate and more importantly a way we understand people and events. Hardy (1986) has described narrative as a basic mode of thought, and Brunner (1986) described it as a way of organizing knowledge.
Cultures are created and traditions are transferred from generation to generation through narratives. It is through narratives that individuals and society expresses their world views and provide models of identity and agency to their members (Brunner 1996). Narrative inquiry differs from more traditional uses of narrative education, that is, from didactic and strategic uses of narrative. Conle et al. (2000) argues that narrative inquiry retains these qualities in two areas: (1) for research, and (2) for professional development. Narrative in Research
Polkinghorne (1988) defined narrative as the process that humans use to make sense of their experiences. It is through the application of language and personal reflection that people are able to continually construct and reconstruct significant events in their life and gain a deeper insight of their experiences. Atkinson (1998) argues that people arrange their experiences in a manner that make sense of the events and places the seemingly chaotic world in a coherent order. Thus, narratives are the process by which people make meaning of their own experiences. Denzin (1989) describes narratives as simply stories.
Polkinghorne (1988) suggests that these stories convey the organizational scheme used to make meaning out of experiences. Very similar to any story, narratives are thematically organized around a central plot. It in the theme, organization, and the play of language of story that meaning and knowledge is drawn out. That is, we learn and gain insights in the temporal relational nature of the author’s reconstruction of events (Polkinghorne 1995). Narratives convey an understanding of environmental and interpersonal context, temporal sequence, and affective domain of the story.
Polkinghorne (1995) offered the simple example of the sentence: “The king died; the price cried. ” Taken in isolation, each adequately describes an event. Understood as a narrative story, with a temporal relationship and context, these two sentences describe a son’s response to the loss of his father. They convey emotion and evoke empathy. Conle (2000) describes the two purposes of narratives: (1) to convey meaning to others from unrelated events into a thematic story (Polkinghorne 1995), and (2) to convey norms and values to newcomers on a cultural or community level (Mattingly 1991).
Narratives, therefore, are both the process of constructing and reconstructing events into organized schemes and the resulting that conveys the scheme (Polkinghorne 1988). Further, Polkinghorne (1988) explains that narratives can be used to either describe or explain an event. Descriptive narrative inquiry reports and interprets existing narratives. Descriptive narrative research describes what underlies the values and assumptions of people within a community by examining several narratives for similarities and themes.
Explanatory narratives seek to explain why something happened or to explain an event. It, thus, looks narrative accounts for connections between events and actions that led to a particular occurrence. To put it more succinctly, it looks for casual connection between antecedents and events. Narrative research uses linguistic data in attempt to understand empirical reality from the perspective of the teller. It uses the resulting story to understand the organizational scheme the teller used to make sense of his or her world.
In narrative research, then, it is not only the content of the story that helps in understanding the experience, but the way the story is constructed that reveals more about the experience. It therefore looks at the study of ways humans experience the world (Connelly and Clandinin 1990). Thus, narrative research begins with the narrator’s story, but moves the research toward interpretation. Denzin (1989) suggests that interpretation allows researchers to look for and connects patterns of meaning and experience in the respondent’s narratives.
Bloom (1998) furthers this discussion by asserting that by connecting patterns and meaning and experiences of respondents, the researcher are able to draw from a wide array of theories to set forth his/her interpretation. Furthermore, Atkinson (1998) advises researchers to examine the respondent’s narratives for ordering of events. Context is revealed by understanding the emotions and values conveyed in the narrative. However, Feldman et al. (1990) cautions researchers on the need to scrutinize the respondent’s use of metaphors, irony, and other rhetorical devices as it may result to misinterpretation.
It is therefore, important to understand and gain insight into the mental state of the respondent in order to fully interpret the story. More importantly, the end result should be a synthesis of several stories into one thematic narrative. Interest in the use of narrative research has strong precedents in other fields such as in Psychology, Anthropology, and Educational Research. They use narrative as a medium of data representation and as a guide in the development of methodologies, if they did not want to lose the temporal quality and contextual detail of what they were studying (Fenstermacher 1994).
They view narratives as a metaphor for human conduct (Sarbin 1986). Narrative, thus, did not stay confined to data representation, but became an entire mode of inquiry where data analysis and final documents did not have to relinquish their narrative quality. Dewey’s work on time, experience, and sociality had been central for narrative inquiry, which consists of experiential stories that combine the social and the personal (Dewey 1904).
It is these experiential stories without abandoning the particular, the contextual, and the complex events that the inquiry attempts to give voice to tacitly held personal knowledge of the respondents (Polanyi 1966; Schwab 1970). This personal knowledge has practical function or serves as an instrument in order for the researcher to evaluate and explain previously determined outcomes on the subject’s deliberations, intuitive decisions, daily action and moral wisdom. Narrative inquiry, therefore works best in getting such ‘practical knowledge’.
In fact, MacIntyre (1981) promotes narratives for the study of practices, of lives and of traditions. The methodology allows the researcher to recover the moral qualities of all aspects of the subject’s contemporary lives, qualities that he sees as practically and theoretically lost. Micheal Connelly’s concept of personal, practical knowledge (Connelly and Diennes 1982) combined Polanyi’s sense of the personal with Schwab’s notion of the practical and MacIntyre’s moral intent.
Connelly later saw the construction of narrative accounts of experiences as the perfect medium for the study of personal practical knowledge (Connelly and Clandinin 1982). Benefits Narrative Inquiry Conle (1997) notes that the most important contribution that narrative inquiry is a language that implicitly forces the issues of open-ended meanings and of the ‘constitutedness’ of identities, both ethnic and narrator’s identities. Narratives are about temporal events and tell us where and when something happens, in which contexts, who said what to whom, with which feelings and in what mood, and under which moral constraints.
Such contextualization on the surface seems to convey facts, but it also potentially subjuntivizes these ‘facts’. If generalization do not accompany the specifics, narrative contextualization limits the factual to the ‘once only’ and to the reliability of observation made by a specific observer at one particular time. If the temporal quality of narrative inquiry is heeded, the tentativeness of conclusions and the open-endedness of stories will prevail. These are much-needed qualities in pluralist societies.
It is the open-endedness that allows readers the ability to further interpret and understand the contextual framework of such actions (Conle 2000). Nonetheless, Berstein (1992) cautions that it is equally crucial for a narrative inquiry not to contribute to the rampant relativism, especially more moral relativism and should not deviate against reason. Such relativism can reduce the instrumental rationality of the research and can hinder the ability to draw insights especially in intercultural settings.

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