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Jacqueline Liebergott on Accomplishment

by Jacqueline Liebergott


My first job was as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. I worked for a woman with a PhD who also juggled her responsibilities with a husband and two children. She was an important role model for me in terms of my own life and my future. She taught me how to work hard and work smart–and she showed me how important it is to get others involved in shared responsibilities. I carry those lessons with me today.


Women are resilient in terms of responding to change and finding different ways to accomplish things. Being influential–having power as I do leading an institution–gives me the ability to be taken seriously. It also challenges me to get the job done. I am most proud of raising Emerson’s profile, attracting better students and watching our faculty take on more rigorous and challenging tasks. Our board of trustees would have that same level of expectation for its president, man or woman. The expectations of me as president have remained constant: build the institution and make sure that we improve academic excellence.


Giving people time and opportunity for feedback is important in instilling confidence. Taking ideas that others have brought forward, acknowledging that contribution and letting them run with those ideas are key. In order to gain an employer’s confidence you must show a certain amount of accomplishment so they can see you are making progress toward a goal. Then there’s the lucky time when not only is there progress on goals that have been set, but a pursuit of new goals that you initiate and accomplish. People who motivated me most told me I could do whatever I chose to do. They said it was merely a matter of me making up my mind. In the process, they also helped me learn to focus on a small number of reasonable goals to accomplish.