FEATURE STORY: Kathleen Scott: Developing individual success
Recognizing excellence is key for Kathleen Scott, director of Administrative Operations and Organizational Excellence.
At Fresno State for 3 1/2 years, she started as a project coordinator leading lean and continuous improvement efforts. That role expanded in 2013, when she took on responsibilities overseeing administrative operations and the division budget.
In spring 2015, she assumed leadership for the University’s learning and wellness program, recently renamed Organizational Excellence. The program focuses on supporting individual and organizational improvements, including professional and organizational development, process improvements (using Lean and other technologies), leadership and change management.
Scott did not start out working in higher education, however. Her career began in marketing and development for non-profit organizations. Then she spent some time as a project manager in the high tech industry.
“I worked in marketing and development for the first half of my career,” she said. “I took my first role in training and development at a community college in Nebraska in 2004. That is when I fell in love with higher education and supporting others in their pursuit of professional growth.”
Scott has worked in higher education since 2004 in various capacities, including Training and Leadership Development, Advancement, Marketing, Public Relations, Administrative Services, Enrollment and Project Management.
Her responsibilities include overseeing organizational and professional development programs designed to nurture a culture of change and innovation. The focus is on building organizational and individual capacities. She also works closely with the Office of the Vice President for Administration, providing strategic support and consultation in order to advance the division’s mission.
Scott sees her most important responsibility as supporting and promoting excellence as it relates to people, programs and processes.
“Last year we launched a pilot program we called CAIFE (Creativity and Innovation for Effectiveness),” she said. “Fresno State had a history of implementing successful lean projects across administrative and academic units for nearly a decade. CAIFE was created in an efffort to move the campus from individual projects to a sustainable culture of innovation and improvement.”
The program was designed to engage faculty, staff and administrators in the process of institutional transformation and embrace a lasting culture of innovation and creativity.
“CAIFE blends individual development with focused efforts to enhance organizational effectiveness,” Scott said. “The pilot included three distinct phases. First, the Bold Idea Challenge — an all-campus call from President Castro for ideas to improve services to students, teaching or learning innovations or ways to fix an inefficient process. Second, we organized twelve diverse cross-functional teams to implement the ideas selected. Seventy employees (faculty and staff) participated on these teams and attended a series of professional development workshops focused on innovation, process improvement and change management. Third, we hosted the inaugural President’s Showcase of Excellence to celebrate academic and administrative best practices and success stories across campus.”
Last fall, Fresno State was recognized with a California Public Higher Education, Focus on Efficiency Award for the CAIFE initiative.
“I don't pretend to claim credit for the whole initiative,” said Scott. “I was just the organizer. It was a collaborative effort starting with support from President Castro and the Cabinet.”
Scott and her team have launched some exciting new professional development programs this year, including the Administrative Academy, the Navigating Fresno State workshop series and Leadership Skills for Managers and Department Chairs.
Upcoming events include the President’s Showcase of Excellence, May 5, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union, which celebrates academic and administrative excellence, and STAR Day, June 1, in the Savemart Center, the Staff Training and Recognition day offering development workshops, a vendor fair and the annual service awards luncheon.
“We have an amazing committee led by Katie Williamson that has been working for months to make this year’s STAR day our best ever,” she said.
Although Scott enjoys living in Fresno, she is not a native Californian.
“I grew up in a suburb of Boston and will always consider myself a New Englander, even though I much prefer the Fresno winters,” she said. “I earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Fairfield University and a Master of Business Administration from Fresno State.”
Scott is married to husband, Rob, and will celebrate their 25th anniversary this summer. She is the proud mother of Anna (age 19) and Christopher (age 17). She also has a foster child Gina (age 19), who lives at home. Her hobbies are running and cycling.
“From 2004-2012 we lived in Nebraska and New Jersey (relocations with my husband's work),” she said. “Rob's work brought us back to Fresno in 2012. We are thrilled to be back in Fresno and I'm thankful to have found my home at Fresno State.”
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