One of the most powerful things that a leader can do is to speak vision into an organization and individuals. President Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” Vision lifts our sights. It helps us to reach for loftier goals and accomplish greater tasks. I often think about the verse from Proverbs “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I find that organizations without vision are simply going through the motions. It is the ability to translate vision into action that truly distinguishes great leaders. Author Joel Barker noted, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
Wendy B. Scott, the new Dean of the Mississippi College School of Law (MCSOL), is one of those leaders with the ability to turn vision into reality. She experienced the power of vision first hand as a child growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her family settled after her father retired from the Army. As one of three daughters, she was heavily influenced by her mother who spoke vision into her life. Dean Scott shared, “From a young age my mother poured herself into me and my sisters and cast a vision for us that we should grow up and be successful professionals making a difference in the world. To this day, she continues to speak encouragement into my life.” Dean Scott has certainly lived up to her mother’s vision. She went on to get her undergraduate degree at Harvard and her law degree from New York University Law School.
With her academic credentials, Dean Scott could have pursued many career paths. She chose the path less taken to follow her passions to make a difference. She worked for nine years in employment law helping those less fortunate. She worked at the Legal Action Center of the City of New York, as an associate at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in New York City, and directed litigation as the associate counsel for the Center for Law and Social Justice, a community law office in Brooklyn, New York. During this time she began teaching law at Hunter College, Brooklyn Law School, and CUNY Law School and discovered how much she enjoyed working with students.
She decided to pursue teaching full time and served in administration and as a professor at Tulane and North Carolina Central School of Law before joining MCSOL. In her new role, Dean Scott is meeting with faculty individually to hear their vision for the Law School. She shared, “One of things I have learned as a leader is that the vision for an organization has to be a collective one.” She has a passion for excellence and is a firm believer in the power of the team. Dean Scott noted, “My predecessor Dean Jim Rosenblatt built a great team, and I am fortunate to inherit such a talented group of leaders.” She believes in recognizing and rewarding successful teamwork and has emphasized that to the staff. For young leaders, she encourages them not to simply chase money, but to truly consider their dreams and passions and have the courage to pursue them.
Dean Scott brings a wealth of experience and a vision for making a difference to MCSOL, and I know that she will be a positive influence not only on the law students, but also the community and the state.[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, September 4, 2014.]