Bellevue University Professor Launches First Book Featuring Courageous Women Leaders
“If they won’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” That is Dr. Lucy Franks’ favorite quote from political activist Shirley Chisholm, one of the historical women leaders featured in her new book Courageous Women and their Leadership Legacies.
Dr. Franks, who recently retired from the College of Business, said the book showcases 13 internationally acclaimed women from the 1800s to the present day. “Each overcame adversity to break glass ceilings,” she said. “Practical leadership insights are illustrated through the stories of how these remarkable women lived their lives.”
“I discovered these accomplished women weren’t always successful or universally accepted,” Dr. Franks described. “Many people think leaders must be perfect and are disappointed when good leadership isn’t demonstrated. But nobody is perfect. That is a particular challenge for women leaders today.”
Dr. Franks said she learned the most by writing about Pat Summit, who became known as the ‘winningest college basketball coach in history’ as she led the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. “Summit started her career right after Title IX was passed, which forced schools to open up sports to women,’ Franks said. “She started out doing it all – driving the bus, washing uniforms – and ultimately drove the Lady Vols basketball program to where it is today.”
Courageous Women and their Leadership Legacies is designed for undergraduate students who are interested in leadership or women's studies. It is also a fascinating resource for emerging or experienced leaders. Each chapter includes questions for reflection, journaling, and discussion, a key element of Bellevue University’s proprietary Active Learning model.
Courageous Women and their Leadership Legacies was a true Bellevue University effort. The book was co-authored by former adjunct professor Fred Lang, Ph.D., with the forward by Stephen Linenberger, Ph.D., Director of graduate leadership programs.
In addition, the Bellevue University Library conducted extensive research for Dr. Franks with retired reference support specialist Maggie McCandless taking the lead. Dr. Franks emphasized writing this book was a big undertaking. “The team was very, very helpful all the way along,” she said. “They even found a rare book that became primary research on Indira Gandhi, who was not only Prime Minister of India but also one of the worlds’ first environmentalists.”
According to Robin Bernstein, Senior Director of Library Services, Dr. Franks’ research project was one of many partnerships her team has with faculty to help them design new programs, develop courses, or complete special projects. “We are fortunate to have access to 154 databases, as well as relationships with libraries nationwide,” she said. “Most importantly, we have a talented staff that knows how to maximize so many resources,” Bernstein added.
Dr. Franks said it was important to her to write these stories down for future generations. “These 13 women demonstrated positive and negative results from a variety of leadership styles including transformational, dictatorial, and charismatic,” Dr. Franks said. “Their stories teach critical insights every leader can use to develop their own leadership style.” She added, “It became clear that women need to be proactive in finding mentors, starting at an early age. We are fortunate there are so many women in leadership roles at Bellevue University.”
When asked why she stayed at Bellevue University for 27 years, Dr. Franks indicated it was because of the students and the learning philosophy. “The caliber of students is so different. They are highly motivated and determined,” Franks said.
In addition, Dr. Franks witnessed the success of the Bellevue University Active Learning model. “In teaching and course development, I had to figure out how students could do more than learn from me. It was critical for them to learn by interacting with each other, as well as through self-reflection and journaling, which are so important. I do not think many schools focus on that,” she emphasized.
Courageous Women and their Leadership Legacies concludes by stating, “The common denominator amongst these courageous women is that they achieved greatness beyond what they had ever expected in their lives,” Now, this book is an important part of Dr. Lucy Franks’ legacy.
Dr. Lucy Franks is a retired full professor from the Bellevue University College of Business. For over 27 years she both taught and designed programs in leadership and management. Most recently, she served on the faculty of the Human Capital Management Doctoral degree program and was Program Director for the entrepreneurship concentration in the Master of Science in Management. Immediately prior to retirement, Dr. Franks developed a curriculum for a new undergraduate certificate in entrepreneurship. She is a recipient of the Kotouc Family Professorship Award and the Bellevue University Quality Council Certificate of Excellence.