business

College president Karen Stout's integrity fund

Jane M. Von Bergen

Updated: Monday, December 8, 2014, 3:40 AM

Karen Stout

Montgomery County Community College president Karen A. Stout has an integrity fund. She doesn't call it that, but that's the purpose it serves, she told me during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

As leaders, "We deal always with lots of issues that have a lot of ethical dimensions," she said, recalling a conversation she had with a mentor as she was considering the Montgomery County Community College presidency in 2001. Her mentor was Phyllis Della Vecchia, now deceased, the former president of Camden County College, where Stout rose through leadership ranks.

"We were talking about integrity and we were talking about being able to build the personal capacity to walk away from something depending on where your line of honor might be," Stout said. "She gave me a piece of advice: You need to set aside and have a savings account, so you know you are saving that money, so you can walk away if you ever get to that point where that line is moving in a direction you can't stomach.

"I have not faced that kind of dilemma since I've been here for 14 years."

Tomorrow: Staying in touch with students -- and the lesson of the early bus.

Jane M. Von Bergen

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