Just the fact that Dr. Woodley has devoted so much time during her first weeks in office to visiting the nine universities in the system and meeting with students, university officials and others is a positive reflection of her management skills and leadership style.
Dr. Woodley’s visit to Northwestern’s Natchitoches campus and College of Nursing in Shreveport provided opportunities for her to gain valuable knowledge and insight about NSU’s unique role in higher education and economic development in the region.
It was clear when Dr. Woodley was appointed last year to head the state’s largest higher education system that she had outstanding qualifications and experience to guide the system in perhaps the most difficult times in history for Louisiana universities.
She served as Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives for the University of Texas System, which is comprised of 16 institutions, before becoming president of the University of Louisiana System and earlier held similar positions in three other states.
Dr. Woodley had leadership roles in strategic planning, finance and analysis at higher education systems in Arizona, Kentucky and Alabama and has been a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislature and coordinator of economic forecasting for Auburn University.
An Alabama native, she received undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration from Auburn and a Doctor of Business Administration and Management degree from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Dr. Woodley experienced and observed at Auburn the kind of multifarious academic, research and extracurricular programs and activities in which traditional students and most faculty and staff members in the University of Louisiana system are engaged.
She can also identify with and provide encouragement for the growing number of non-traditional students in the system based on her own history of combining classroom and online courses and juggling job, family and academic responsibilities for a decade to obtain her college education.
With her expertise and skills in higher education fiscal issues and strategic planning, Dr. Woodley is the perfect fit to lead the University of Louisiana System at a time when diminishing state funding over the past five years has forced the schools to embrace new strategies and initiatives to remain stable and effective.
Dr. Woodley’s visits to Northwestern and other schools in the system demonstrated that she obviously blends strong professional capabilities with admirable personal qualities and especially the willingness and ability to listen.
Northwestern folks and others in the community who met Dr. Woodley when she was here were impressed by her sincerity and genuine interest in NSU and Natchitoches and were captivated by her charisma.
That same positive response to Dr. Woodley has been reported from other institutions in the University of Louisiana System following her visits to those schools and communities.
Universities in the system, in addition to Northwestern, are the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Grambling, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Southeastern, McNeese, the University of New Orleans and Nicholls State.
Dr. Woodley is eminently capable and qualified to direct the University of Louisiana System, and her innate charm and upbeat attitude are a ray of sunshine amidst the dark clouds of budget cuts and reductions in personnel and programs that have hovered over the system’s universities in recent years.