To mark the 70th anniversary milestone, some of the women who have contributed to Georgia Tech’s growth were asked about leadership, research, and teaching to share thoughts on their early days at Tech, their proudest achievements, changes they would like to see, and advice for the next generation. Terry Blum was among those women, here are her stories.
The Early Days:
“In 1986, I was recruited to come to Georgia Tech from Tulane University where I was an assistant professor and leading a research program. There were only one or two other women on the business school faculty, one of whom is Debbie Turner in Accounting. I became the first woman appointed to an endowed chair in 1996 and the first female dean of the business school in 1999. I’ll be happy when we don’t have to talk about ‘firsts’ anymore.”
“I think Georgia Tech is much more focused on inclusion now, and on the culture and the experience of people at Tech than we were at the beginning stages of diversity work. The culture, the motivation, the strategic plans of the Institute, and the goals of leadership have changed dramatically, as has the larger socio economic, political environment that includes issues pertaining to race and ethnicity as well as gender.
It’s very courageous of leadership to want to live the Institute’s values and to stay the course in the environment in which we’re living. We are implementing our strategic plan, and a lot of that is culture work and organizational change, which is hard work to do.”
“I am most proud of co-founding the EXCEL program, the nondegree program for students with intellectual disabilities. I think the program is transformational because it not only gives these kids the opportunity to change their lives, but it gives our traditional degree students an opportunity to interact with them in their classes and act as their mentors and coaches.
Even though other schools had created similar programs, it was unexpected for a school without an education program to do so. EXCEL was a radical innovation for us, and it took a lot of people moving together to get it to work. The program would not have been created without the relationships and the status that I had developed as dean. The kids who have graduated have an 85% employment rate in the first three months after graduation. These are kids who otherwise would have been at home watching television.”