The P.E.O. Record July-August 2022 (public)


Being a college president wasn’t always the dream career for Dr. Stefanie D. Niles. “My first exploratory career path was actually musical theater,” said Dr. Niles. “However, while I was a very good singer and strong actress, I was much more of a ‘mover’ than a ‘dancer.’ I am also very practical. I quickly realized that a lifetime of auditions and competing for the next big role was not best suited for my personality.” { Dr. Stefanie D. Niles } Named 13th President of Cottey College by Randon Coffey, Director of Marketing, Cottey College

During her time as a student at the University of Virginia, Dr. Niles got a glimpse into the world of higher education while she interned in the admissions office. “I found the work extremely fulfilling and impactful,” said Dr. Niles. “When I graduated college, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in higher education.” Fast forward to 2022, and Dr. Niles has spent decades working alongside thousands of students and parents to make this critical decision that shapes students’ lives. On April 25, the Cottey College Board of Trustees announced that Dr. Niles would serve as the 13th president of the College. “I first became aware of Cottey College 11 years ago when I was the vice president for enrollment at Hollins University, a women’s college in Virginia,” said Dr. Niles. “Until Cottey started offering bachelor’s degrees, Hollins would routinely enroll Cottey graduates who wanted to complete their degrees at a women’s college. So I knew Cottey to be an institution that graduated intelligent, thoughtful young women ready for the next step in heir educational journeys.” When Dr. Niles heard about the presidential search at Cottey, she knew that it was an opportunity to align her work with her passion for educating the next generation of women. “I find Cottey’s mission distinctive and compelling,” said Dr. Niles. “Growing up, I attended a single-gender high school. I have seen first-hand how the women’s college educational experience can be transformative and tremendously affirming. It enables those who partake to find their voices and develop as leaders to assume critical roles in an increasingly global society.” Dr. Niles began her duties as Cottey’s president

and educate women. The pandemic has magnified some of the challenges we face in higher education. I believe it is essential for all institutions to build upon their strengths, examine their weaknesses and actively plan for the future.”

on July 1. Her first few months are focused on spending lots of time with the Cottey community. “I want to learn as much as I can about Cottey and its students, faculty, staff, alumnae and the vibrant P.E.O. community,” said Dr. Niles. “I am excited to have conversations with individuals and groups that inspire thoughtful dialogue and proactive consideration of how we can position Cottey to continue to serve


THE P.E.O. RECORD | July–August 2022

Women helping women reach for the stars

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