Alumni Highlights

Donna SollenbergerAbout Donna K. Sollenberger

BA (1971) MA (1974) English Literature

Ms Donna Sollenberger has been appointed chief executive officer of the Baylor Clinic and Hospital, and executive vice president of BCM. Before her recent appointment, Ms. Sollenberger was President and CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and responsible for more than 800 medical staff, 80 outpatient clinics, and six intensive care units.

Ms Sollenberger’s achievements go beyond managing complexity, though that in itself is impressive. She is recognized for a humane, empowering and imaginative administrative style that has brought measurable results in improved patient care and well being.

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education to a Leader

In a recent campus visit, when Donna Sollenberger received an Alumni Achievement Award, she spoke to a group of students about careers and leadership. Asked how she, as an English Literature major, could manage a large organization in a highly technical environment with such success, she said that “one of the most important classes that I took was one on the Victorian novel. Aside from being interesting to read, by analyzing and discussing these novels, I learned how to deal with a mass of complex information, to reduce it to essential themes, and to defend my interpretations. In small group discussions I learned to defend my point of view but also to listen. People can see things in very different ways, and out of discussion you become a bigger thinker. These skills are essential to my job as a leader.”

Sollenberger went on to develop the many ways that a liberal arts education is essential to effective leadership.

According to Sollenberger, a liberal arts and sciences education helps you to:

  • Focus on communication, and written and oral communication is essential
  • Synthesize large amounts of information to find meaningful patterns (themes) and to develop clear messages
  • Identify supporting ideas to advance a theme (persuasion)
  • Understand multiple points of view, and to value “dissenters”, which fosters creative thinking
  • Analyze problems and see multiple solutions
  • Hone discussion and argumentation skills in small group discussions
  • Become introspective and develop one’s own values and opinions