November 27, 2000
Did you do a double take too? The woman in Ellington 202--the one with the wide smile- is Dr. Diane Berty. She's back.
In October, Berty struck out for Kalamazoo to begin work as assistant vice president for student affairs and director of health services at Western Michigan University.
The job seemed to have her name on it. With an enrollment of 28,000 Western Michigan is a top-tier research university.
When she interviewed, officials “made her an offer she couldn't refuse,” doubling her salary and putting her in charge of a $9 million operating budget and a staff of 70.
But things aren't always as they appear. What first attracted Berty to the position was the strong marriage of her two great professional loves: student affairs and health services. During her interviews, she was assured health services would continue to be part of the Division of Student Affairs. Philosophically, that was imperative to her.
Within a week of her arrival at Western Michigan, however, there was a call for a review of the organizational structure. As AVP, she was told to “explore” the possibilities of moving health services out for student affairs to another area of the university.
“I believe strongly that health services should fall within student affairs,” Berty says. “And I was being asked to consider an alternative arrangement!”
It was a defining moment for Berty. What was more important to her? Money and position, or personal integrity? With no job waiting, Berty resigned. “I couldn't lead my staff in a direction I couldn't support.”
Thankfully, her exit from Austin Peay had been a positive one. As soon as Dr. Jennifer Meningall, VP for student affairs, heard Berty had resigned, she called Berty to say the door at APSU was open. Berty returned to her previous position as director of student development and interim director of student health services.
With her doctorate and diverse professional experience, which began in 1978, this APSU alumna is not saying she will never leave. She might, but only if an offer comes along that meets all her professional--and personal--requirements.
She says, “Each person within a university has a responsibility to stand for what's right, even it if means speaking up to top administrators.”
Meeting her personal responsibility meant walking away from what seemed to be a dream job. “We all assume that if we had a higher salary, limitless budget, lots of staff and a growing enrollment, everything would be hunky-dory,” Berty says. “My unique ‘professional development experience' proved that's not always true.
“In a job, two things are important--being able to be true to yourself and working with people who reflect and support your values. I'm glad to be back.”