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COVER STORY
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Carol A. Taylor

President of Vanguard University of Southern California in Costa Mesa

20 Women to Watch, continued ...Published: March 01, 2011

Hometown: Placentia

Age:
59

Family:
I now share a home with my elderly parents. I cared for my only brother during his final battle with cancer in 2007. I am close to my extended family – many still in the Chicago area.

First job:
Teacher in a Greek Orthodox school in the Chicago area – I am not Greek.

Biggest break:
Rather than a single big break, my life has been a series of what has appeared to be small moves that prepared and positioned me for the next thing. For example, teaching Greek children and working closely with the Greek community in Chicago led me to pursue graduate work in cross-cultural communication, which led me to teaching international students at three different state universities and developing a K-12 program for English-language learners.

Secret to your success:
For me, it would have to be a willingness to take risks and take on a challenge, a passion for learning, a willingness to view each position as an opportunity to serve others, and an eyes-wide-open optimism.

Favorite all-time college class and why:
An American history class as an undergraduate. It wasn’t the subject matter but the professor. He was brilliant, but it was his passion for his discipline blended with a great deal of care for his students. He had a way of making history come alive and be relevant. I remember thinking that if I had taken his course as a freshman, I likely would have become a history major. Thanks to him, I learned a love for the human stories of history and what they can teach us about life today.

With Vanguard facing serious financial and accreditation issues in 2009, Taylor was brought in as acting president to save the Christian university. Under her leadership, the budget was slashed by $3.5 million, the academic programs were restructured and new policies were put into place. Officials with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – who had planned on pulling the university’s accreditation – called the progress “phenomenal.” In June, WASC removed the sanction of probation and commended the university for a “significant institutional turnaround.”
   
“The amount of support and prayer and commitment to the institution was inspiring,” Taylor says. “Faculty and staff served sacrificially and remained focused on serving our students well.”
   
In October, the board made Taylor the permanent president of Vanguard, making her the first female president of any Assemblies of God university.
   
This year, Vanguard celebrates its 90th anniversary and last month kicked off “90 days of Vanguard,” which includes a number of special conferences, celebrations of the arts and other campus events before culminating with the school’s commencement in May.




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