Virginia Lottery Director Penelope Ward Kyle said a lack of university experience shouldn't hamper her management abilities
Virginia Lottery Director Penelope Ward Kyle assured Radford University faculty Tuesday that she wouldn't institute radical changes if she succeeded Douglas Covington as president.
"Far be it from me with my career experience ... to tell you what you should be doing," she said. "I haven't been doing what you all have been doing for all these years."
Before coming to the lottery in 1994, Kyle worked at CSX Corporation and as a lawyer in Richmond.
Her experience in higher education was limited to a five-year stint as an assistant professor at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton in the mid-1970s. She said she always preferred to have bosses who had a history of employment different from her own because they were less likely to tell her how to do her job. But Kyle told faculty gathered at the school's Pridemore Playhouse for an open forum that her lack of experience wouldn't affect her ability to lead the university.
"Managing is managing," she said. "A good manager doesn't become a bad manager just because he changes companies," she said. "What I do is manage and I'm a good manager."
Kyle also told faculty not to expect her to be an absentee manager just because she has more experience in Richmond than on college campuses. Kyle is one of three candidates remaining from a pool of more than 90 initially interested in taking over as president when Covington steps down in June. The previous candidate to come to Radford, John Fallon, spent his entire career at colleges and universities. Radford has not announcedwho the third candidate will be or when the candidate will visit.
Kyle deferred to programs and policies already in place at the universi ty when asked about her views on research, athletics and faculty compensation. Radford professors consistently rank among the lowest-paid faculty members at Virginia's public colleges and universities.
There was some confusion when that issue came up as Kyle said in her experience as a state employee, she understood that raises affected Virginia employees equally as a percentage of their salaries. But a faculty member pointed out that the university's governing board voted to increase the average faculty raise approved by the General Assembly last year. Instead of a 3 percent raise, the average raise was 8 percent.
"Well that's another good reason to come to Radford," Kyle said, laughing.
But another member of the audience said that the raises don't make out for the low starting salaries of Radford professors. The school also ranks among the lowest in the state in per-pupil funding.
Kyle said those problems could be improved through increased visibility in Richmond. She touted her fund-raising ability and said that lobbying state representatives took more than talking to them in a hallway in Richmond. The best time to cultivate relationships with them is when the legislature is not in session, she said. Keeping tabs on influential alumni was another effective strategy.
"You're selling yourself," she said. "You're letting that other person know about you, know about your university and the story of what you're doing there."
Penelope Ward Kyle
Current position: Director of the Virginia Lottery
- Guilford College, undergraduate
- The College of William and Mary, master's degree
- University of Virginia, law degree