SALEM — Danvers resident and businesswoman Pamela Scott was recently appointed the new chairwoman of Salem State University. Since 2009, she has been bringing her extensive business background, her knowledge of corporate and nonprofit finance, and her leadership skills to the school as a trustee.
She has also served in various leadership roles with a number of nonprofits over the years, including with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, The Boston Club and Girls Inc. of Lynn.
Scott broke ground at the start of her business career in the 1970s when she became the first African-American woman to graduate from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Her more than 30 years of sales and management experience in banking and financial services began at Citibank in the mid-1970s, and she has held various positions at other New York-area investment firms. At State Street Corp. in Boston, she held various senior roles that put her in touch with public pension fund investors, schools and nonprofit organizations.
A former director of Danvers Bancorp, the holding company of the former Danversbank, she is the president and CEO of LVCC Inc., a consulting firm that aims to help companies and organizations grow.
How can your business background help Salem State?
I think I can contribute in a variety of ways because the kind of things that I have done in business include a variety of functions, marketing, sales, general management with different markets in terms of types of clients: individuals, large institutions, and educational institutions and other nonprofits. I have sat in a number of seats in the business world that relate to education, relate to financial matters of large organizations and how they can be managed effectively, as well as a number of my volunteer roles that I have had for different nonprofits of different sizes and different missions. So I bring not only the business, which is substantial, 35-plus years, but also just about as many years in the nonprofit space as a volunteer.
Tell me about your background.
I’m a native of Houston, Texas; family is still there, and went to undergrad there, Rice University, and decided after that experience, I had a choice: I could have stayed for a fifth year in accounting ... but I decided to leave Houston and go for my MBA at Tuck School at Dartmouth.
What year are we talking about?
I finished Rice in 1973 and went to Dartmouth that following summer. I grew up in Houston; my parents were a successful middle-class black family. My mother was a first-grade teacher for many years and was actively involved in the teacher union activity. And I think it was from her knee that I learned a lot not only about volunteering but also about leadership. She was a leader among her peers in the teachers’ world, but she was also a leader in the community.
You say that there was “an automatic expectation” among your family that you would go into education. Has becoming a trustee and now chairwoman of Salem State allowed you to come full circle?
This is my education time, now, but in a different role. I’m not in the classroom, but I have made the full circle back to education, but again, with a different hat on.
Was it tough to be the first African-American female to graduate Tuck School?
Well, I didn’t know I was until I got there. I did not know they had not had any other black women before. I knew they had had a couple of black men who had preceded me. But that was also a time when the Dartmouth campus was just getting to be coed, as well, so in the business school there had only been a few women who preceded the class I was in. ... So, I was breaking new ground and I didn’t know it until I hit the ground.
Salem State has a fine business school, too. Will you try to promote that aspect of the university?
I am proud to say ... that a fair percentage of the undergraduates are business undergraduates. We are talking about 20 percent of them are business undergraduates. That’s an attractive thing for me being a part of the leadership of this organization is that there is a strong business program, and of course I would want to do whatever I could do to provide resources to make it stronger.
You will not be running the day-to-day operations of the university, but what do you foresee as your role as chairwoman?
My charge as part of the team with President (Patricia) Meservey, the remainder of the board and senior management of the organization (is) to revisit that (the university’s strategic plan) and bring it up-to-date and bring it into the future. ... We will be looking out for facilities planning, for residential planning, all of those kinds of elements that were part of the previous plan: How do we support the students, how do we support the faculty, what do we do beyond what we are already doing in the community in our civic engagement, and our interaction with the business community. As we look at ourselves as a primary supplier of the future workforce, we need to be cognizant of what those needs are.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.