Lyon College President Melissa Taverner on the Importance of Learning

Melissa Taverner has worked in higher education for almost three decades. She joined Lyon College as provost in 2018 and was named president in 2022. As president, she is responsible for the liberal arts college’s strategic decisions.

One of the most critical things a leader can do is continue to learn, she said. “Landscapes change and sometimes they pivot on a dime, hence the pandemic,” she said. “And if anyone in a leadership position says, ‘Well, I understand this, done and dusted, we’re good.’ They’re going to be sadly mistaken.”  

But by continually learning and talking and listening to people, both within a leader’s industry and outside it, the leader will have a better understanding of challenges others are facing. 

“And so, if I can understand it better, maybe I can bring that into my operation as well,” Taverner said. 

She said she’s dealt with impostor syndrome “from grad school onward. It’s one of those things that is not uncommon in men and women.”

But to handle it she developed “a level of confidence, not hubris, but confidence that there are things I’m pretty good at. There are things that I continue to need help with. And finding that balance allows you to say, OK, I don’t have to be the solution to every problem.” 

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This article originally appeared in Arkansas Business as part of “Lessons Learned: Women in Business Offer Leadership Advice,” a story highlighting eight women in leadership positions across Arkansas. Read it in full here.


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