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Newsmaker Judy Hample: New boss of 14 state schools 'driven'

Monday, July 16, 2001

By Milan Simonich, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Judy Hample is not your ordinary politician. A former college debate coach with a doctorate in communication, she is equally skilled at working a state legislature and a roomful of college professors. Hample, 53, will bring her skills to Pennsylvania next month when she takes over as chancellor of the State System of Higher Education.

 
    Judy Hample

Date of birth: Oct. 16, 1947

Place of birth: Henderson, Tenn.

In the news: She will begin work Aug. 1 as chancellor of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities.

Quote: "I am a workaholic. I love to work because I love to accomplish things."

Professional background: Hample has been chancellor of Florida's university system; vice president of academics at the University of Toledo; dean of arts and sciences at Indiana State University and Emporia State University in Kansas; and a professor at the University of Illinois and Western Illinois University.

Education: She received a bachelor's degree in speech communication in 1969 from David Lipscomb University; a master's degree in communication in 1970 from Ohio State University; and a doctorate in communication from Ohio State in 1974.

Family: Divorced

 
 

The $275,000-a-year job puts her in charge of 14 public universities, all former state teachers colleges that are trying to improve their reputations and increase their funding. The system does not include Penn State University, whose reputation and presence dwarfs the schools that Hample will lead.

Stealing away some of that attention may be one of Hample's greatest challenges.

"This situation presents an opportunity for her to go head to head with Penn State," said Lawrence Pettit, president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, often regarded as the flagship school of those that Hample will guide.

IUP, with 13,000 students, is the largest of the 14 state system schools and the only one that offers doctorates.

Hample comes to Pennsylvania after serving for the past five months as chancellor of Florida's larger and more prestigious university system. She quit because the Florida Legislature had already decided on a structural overhaul that eliminated the regents who governed state universities and deeply reduced the chancellor's authority.

"Yes, I'm leaving behind some bigger schools," Hample said. "The University of Florida alone has 50,000 students. But for someone who wants to be the [chief executive officer] and work directly with the governing board, the Pennsylvania job is better."

Though fiercely ambitious, Hample is good at disguising it. Admirers say she is usually the smartest person in any room she enters and the one least likely to talk about herself.

"Judy's personality allows her to deal with people without letting her very large intellect get in the way," said Sandy D'Alemberte, president of Florida State University. "Some people in academia are so smart that they cannot contain themselves. Judy does not need to show in every encounter how smart she is."

Hample spent about 2 1/2 years in the Florida chancellor's office. She began as a deputy to her mentor, Adam Herbert, then succeeded him after the legislature weakened his authority as chancellor and he resigned.

"Judy stepped in and gained everybody's respect," D'Alemberte said. "The transition has been hard, but she did a competent job in keeping the place together. She handled herself in an elegant way."

Adolfo Henriques, a Miami banker who served on the board of regents, said he liked the changes in Florida's educational structure. The drawback to altering the system, he said, was that it caused Hample to defect to Pennsylvania.

"She is first and foremost a very driven individual, yet she is extremely pleasant," Henriques said. "She has an uncanny ability to dissect through a bunch of superfluous information and focus on what's important."

Rosie Webb Joels, head of United Faculty of Florida, a union for state professors, called Hample "the data machine," who knew the ins and outs of every university budget and policy issue.

"I've never seen her unprepared," Joels said. "She was rare for somebody in academia because she was always brief, but she could answer any question that came along. She also was respectful and she seemed to genuinely care about what other people thought."

Joels said the Florida political structure made a clumsy, belated stab at keeping Hample in charge of its universities.

"Judy was trying to minimize some of the harm they did with changes that were arbitrary and political," Joels said. "They recognized her skill and made her permanent chancellor. But it was kind of like saying, 'We're going to make you queen and, by the way, the kingdom is abolished at sundown.' "

Hample grew up in western Tennessee never envisioning herself as a university administrator who would deal with governors and legislators. She wanted to become a scientist. But as a student at David Lipscomb University in Nashville, she found that her afternoon chemistry labs conflicted with her other great interest -- traveling as part of the debate team. She shifted her studies to communication so she could continue debating.

Hample went on to receive graduate degrees at Ohio State University, then became a lecturer and the debate coach at the University of Illinois.

After taking a professorship at Western Illinois University, Hample was asked to fill in as an associate dean. That move in 1979 began a series of jobs in which she oversaw academic departments and professors.

By 1993, Hample had risen to the academic vice presidency of the University of Toledo. The school president, Frank Horton, was a demanding figure who insisted on quality. Hample liked him immediately.

When Horton ended up as one of the other two finalists for the Pennsylvania chancellor's job this year, Hample said, she felt enormous stress competing against him. Getting the job over a mentor, she added, was bittersweet.

People who knew them both were not surprised that she prevailed.

"She had better training to effectively run a state system," said David Lindsley, a vice president at the University of Toledo.

He said she has the energy necessary to lift the Pennsylvania university system.

"I know it's viewed by some as a second-rate system, but she will improve that," Lindsley said.

Hample becomes only the second chancellor of the Pennsylvania system since its creation in 1983. The first, James McCormick, just left to take a similar job in Minnesota.

Hample's $275,000 starting salary is $102,000 higher than what McCormick was making. She said she will earn it because most of her life is devoted to work.

Single and without children, Hample is passionate about college and professional football. She also likes to escape to New York City two or three times a year for trips to the theater. But her career, she said, consumes her.

"I don't think coming to the Pennsylvania system is a step down at all. It has a very positive national reputation, and I'm very committed to undergraduate education," Hample said. "I'm going to give this all I've got."



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