Pittsburg State provost Lynette Olson is retiring in June 2019. Olson served in the position for 10 years. She came to Pitt State in 1996 as a department chair, before moving to the dean of Arts and Sciences position.
With each position, Olson said that she learned “more about herself and developed strong leadership skills in each position.”
“At the end of the day, it’s all about learning about the people that you work with, I think. I enjoyed the people that I worked with, really good people,” Olson said.
Olson has mixed feelings and emotions about retiring and leaving this position after the commitment her position required for Pitt State.
“One thing that I really like about Pitt State is the commitment to students and that exactly fits who I am and being a part of this institution, it has been a real honor and privilege for me,” Olson said. “It is time for me, I think, to do something different and spend more time with family and friends and do a little bit more traveling on my own time.”
Olson’s future plans include private consulting and peer reviewing for academic purposes.
“I’m not looking to work a part-time (job) every day but maybe a couple days a week because I work hard and I like to work, but I’m just looking for flexibility and do what I want to do when I do it,” Olson said.
The provost position requires a considerable time commitment, and some of the challenges that Olson faced when she started this position were financial: handling resources and investing them in the appropriate manner.
“It’s been a kind of constant with hiring new faculty, which changes thing a little bit because new faculty comes with new ideas and new program ideas,” Olson said. “One thing that is beyond Pitt State that has changed is the competition among colleges and universities in using and producing new techniques and new technologies… Also, everyone is recruiting students like crazy and offering students special incentives to enroll and this changed so much… in regard to the craft of teaching and (making) education more accessible to students.”
Olson has worked closely with many faculty during her time at PSU, including President Steve Scott.
“… (Scott and I) know each other very well and we have a good working relationship and I certainly believe that he’s very transparent and I’ve never doubted that he supports me in this position because partly I think he came out of the academic area,” Olson said. “He’s been a dean, he’s been a department chair and been Provost for three years. So, he understands this position.”
Olson characterizes the working relationship with President Scott as excellent.
“I’ve had people from other campuses noticed the great working relationship that I have with the President and they commented how lucky I am to be in this position with a supportive president,” Olson said.
Trish Peak, senior executive associate to the provost, said Olson’s retirement evokes “bittersweet emotions.”
“I am so happy for her getting to spend more time with family, friends, and experience this next chapter of her life. But, on the other hand, we have had such a fantastic working relationship that it makes me sad knowing that she will no longer be the provost. She has been such an advocate for faculty and staff as well as a very insightful leader. I could not ask for a more professional, encouraging, kind and compassionate person to work for. She will be missed by so many, and especially by me. I truly wish her the best in all the future holds for her,” Peak said.