Christina Durham pursued her Ph.D. while she and her husband cared for their three children, and she still found time to bake cookies for them.
Durham, who was appointed chair of the board of trustees for Dixie State University in July, is unique. She has only been on the board since 2013, is the second woman chair, and as a Mexican-American, the first ethnic minority. Her educational background in psychology and mediation helps with her role as chair, Durham said.
“Steve Caplin approached to see if I was interested,” Durham said in an email. “From there I met with president Nadauld and then my name was submitted to the governor for approval.”
She said that Caplin, who is the former chair, thought she would be an asset because of her educational background in psychology and training in mediation, and being a woman, that she would add diversity to the board.
Durham went to college full-time when her youngest child was five. She said she used creative time management to juggle her studies and her children’s activities.
“I would bring books to their ball games, and in between when they were on, I would be studying,” Durham said.
It took Durham about ten years to complete her doctorate degree. She said she knew she couldn’t be a psychologist without a Ph.D.
Also a trained mediator, Durham said in an email that she has worked with families in divorce and parent-time cases or as a volunteer in victim-offender mediation within a juvenile court case.
“The mediation came into play in seeing that as a kinder, gentler way to resolve some of those issues,” Durham said.
With her background, Durham explained that it helps her in her role as chair.
“It helps in working with people and hopefully coming to a better resolution, being more inclusive [and] being more supportive,” Durham said. “Certainly the role of the trustees is to be supportive of the president and the objective and goals that he has … What we want to achieve is a harmonious relationship, and I think it helps [with the board] in those ways.”
Faculty serves a great role and function at DSU, Durham said, and she has made an effort to reach out. She said there were 24 new faculty members this year, and she put together the first faculty welcome.
Diversity is important on campus, Durham said. By learning about diversity, she said that it will help in future jobs when students leave college.
DSU’s board of trustees supports President Biff Williams, helps with policies and procedures and passes budgets, said Durham. The board is also is a part of the process for approving academic programs.
David Clark, vice chair of the board of trustees, said that the trustees are appointed by the governor. The process is delegated authority from the legislature for higher education, to the board of regents, Clark said. He said the board of regents then delegates a portion of the authority to the local board of trustees.
“There is a dual role in that policy and administrative portion,” said Clark. “We have this layer[ed] administrative program.”
As chair, Durham oversees the meetings, goes over the agenda with Williams and works with the board of regents.
“I am more accountable for where the trustees are in line with those goals and objectives,” Durham said. “So, I work more closely with [Williams] and then funnel that through the committees …”
Durham said that the board is diverse in opinions and backgrounds.
“In the end as we talk about issues everybody really looks at the good of the university … and yet looks forward with one goal … and typically, not always, but typically unanimous decisions,” Durham said.