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Through the Open Doors

Provost and chief learning officer Deborah Curtis brings experience and a passion for learning to the job.
By Mike Greife

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Deborah Curtis always wanted to teach. She entered the field of education as a music teacher and coach, and her passion for educating educators led her to a career in higher education.

Curtis was named provost and chief learning officer at the University Central Missouri earlier this year, succeeding George Wilson, who retired June 30. For Curtis, the move to UCM is another opportunity to facilitate the education of young adults, preparing them to meet the challenges of the world.

"I really thought I would obtain my degree and retire some years later after a successful career as a music teacher," she said. However, she followed her own advice---the same advice she offers to students---and took advantage of opportunities as they came along.

"If you had told me when I was 22 years old and just coming out of graduate school that I would be doing this kind of work, I would have said, 'Really?' I still tell young people that life is a long corridor full of open doors and windows. Most of them offer opportunities, but it doesn't mean you can't come back through one and go through another one. Step through and try, because you'll never know where you're going to go."

For Curtis, the opportunity to enter higher education came after she had taught and coached interscholastic athletics for 10 years. Her husband, Lynn, had accepted a position as a basketball coach, and she accepted a position teaching in the laboratory school at Indiana State University.

"I became thrilled with the experience of having college students in my classroom," she said. "I loved the idea of teaching teachers to teach. It tapped something in me while teaching about teaching that I didn't realize was there. That's when I started on my doctorate in curriculum and instruction."

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