Mary Lou Higgerson is the recipient of eight teaching awards including being named Distinguished Teacher in 1997 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is a seasoned academic administrator with more than 35 years of experience at both large, public doctoral-granting and small private, liberal arts institutions. She has held administrative appointments at every level of the institution from department chair to system office. From 2005 through spring of 2012, she served on the Board of Trustees at Elmhurst College.
Higgerson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas where she studied and conducted research in organizational communication. Her selection as an American Council on Education Fellow in 1986-87 propelled her to move her consulting and research interests from the corporate world to higher education administration. Combining her knowledge of communication with her administrative experience, Higgerson’s focus in her writing, consulting and training activities is on leadership communication as it supports effective leadership at all levels of higher education administration. Kansas State University presented Mary Lou Higgerson with the Bill E. Cashin Distinguished Service Award for “Outstanding Service to the Academic Chairpersons Conference and the Study of Academic Administration.”
Since 1990, she has taught on a variety of leadership communication topics for the American Council on Education in national and campus leadership seminars offered through the Center for Leadership Development. Higgerson has authored Communication Skills for Department Chairs (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 1996), co-authored Effective Leadership Communication: A Survival Guide for Department Chairs and College Deans (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 2007), The Administrative Portfolio: Practical Guide to Improved Administrative Performance and Personnel Decisions (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 2002) and Complexities of Higher Education Administration: Case Studies and Issues (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 1993). She contributed to Education Administration: Case Studies and Issues (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, 1993). She worked with Irene Hecht and Walt Gmelch to write The Department Chair as Academic Leader (ACE/Oryx Press, 1999). She has co-produced training videos on communication strategies relevant for higher education administrators and has written articles that have appeared in such publications as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Journal of College and University Personnel Association, Continuing Higher Education Review and The Department Chair.