Dr. Kate Douglas is serving her final year as the first female president at SUNY Corning Community College for the past eight years.
Through an extensive early career in higher education, she was encouraged to aim for a presidential role.
After becoming a finalist in all three schools she applied to, including CCC, Douglas felt the Southern Tier was the perfect fit.
Now, after 44 years in public education, Douglas will be closing this chapter and writing her next.
“I’m going to reconnect with Kate,” Douglas said. “I’m going to make sure I hold on to who she is and not the role, which has been a terrific role, but I’ve kidded that this is not a job, this is a lifestyle, and it’s been a great lifestyle, but I don’t want to lose Kate, so I’m going to make sure that she’s alive and well and strongly connected to the folks she cares about in her life and then figure out what comes next.”
She is reconnecting with the Kate who is one of many women today shattering that glass ceiling.
“We can’t let others tell us where we want to be or what we want to do, they can try, but it’s up to us,” Douglas said. “We don’t have to be better than, we can be together with.”
The challenge of leveling out fair gender treatment in the professional field was an issue she determined to confront.
“No doubt there were times that because I am a woman, I didn’t advance as far as my male counterparts or get paid as much,” Douglas said. “I have found the direct approach works, it can make you some enemies along the way, but that’s OK, those aren’t the allies you want anyway.”
But what struck a chord with Douglas was the strength of independent women, as she’s seen it first hand. Some take on immense responsibilities balancing work, family and education.
“There are so many single parents, specifically, so many single moms who are raising the family alone,” Douglas said. “That is so much work and that takes such drive to succeed; every graduation we have those single moms and I think, I don’t know how you do it, but you do it, and they are inspirational to me, I am humbled.”
It’s twofold. A woman has an obligation to strive and achieve her goals for herself, but through that, it signifies that she can — and she will.
“We have a responsibility to continue to strive for whatever level that’s important to us,” Douglas said. “We have a responsibility to go for that because we will make a positive difference in the world, and we can be very proud of that.”
Douglas will say goodbye to the Southern Tier come June, but her legacy lives on as the first woman to serve the highest position at Corning Community College.