Norma Walrath Goldstein, Ph.D.

Retired as Director of Trustee Education for ACCT in 2021, Dr. Norma Goldstein now consults for ACCT as a governance institute and/or board retreat facilitator. Her experiences include several statewide, regional and national board governance institutes for ACCT and for the American Indian Higher Ed Consortium (AIHEC). She facilitates retreats, presidential evaluations, and board self-assessments.  A former college administrator, teacher, scholar, editor, and instructional dean at several colleges, Norma has been a regional accreditation evaluator for two decades for the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. At ACCT, she edited Trustee Talk, the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Implementation Guide and Board Buzzwords, among other publications. With over 40 years of teaching and administrative experience,  Dr. Goldstein actively engages trustees in their learning. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Connecticut College, a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Studies degree from Wesleyan University, and her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island. She has additional post graduate work at Dartmouth College and with the Humanities Institute at Cambridge University, England.  She has also taught at Harbin University in China.

Spotlight Questions

1. Who was your earliest professional influence?

My earliest impression of the consummate teacher was my tenth-grade English professor, Lorraine Santangelo. Not only did she inspire me to become proficient in the language, but she also maintained a sense of professionalism and decorum of what it meant to be an inspiring leader and speaker. She was feared by most students for she was a harsh grader, but by those who perceived that she really expected more than just the ordinary from her students, she taught what excellence meant.  It meant self-examination and hard work. I think about her wickedly hard vocabulary lessons today and chuckle. She taught me how to think and how to write and how to focus on what is important.  She expanded my world.

2. What are you most proud of personally and professionally?

Other than my three sons and wonderful husband, all of whom are accomplished men and good fathers, I am most proud of my publications, including those at ACCT, which allowed me to have a national audience. I have been a journalist, a published poet, an editor, a publications specialist, a creative writer, an essayist, a documentarian, a book reviewer, and a writing-to-learn specialist, and a teacher of writing and thinking. Nevertheless, I am probably most proud of my ability to connect to people about what is important, especially when I am working with boards from across our nation. I am passionate about not wasting people’s time, about making connections with boards and having them connect with each other in thoughtful ways about meaningful topics that can make a difference in the lives of students and of college presidents. I like the ways I can help make our time together memorable and fun!  I am also very proud of my work with the tribal colleges and universities in our nation.

3. What is your favorite pastime or hobby?

Probably reading books of all types is my most time-consuming passion, but I love to cook international foods, to skin dive, to go berry picking, and to collect sand from around the globe. I have been hosting/organizing international dinners for the past 25 years and have learned so much about other cultures by doing so. By the way, I just spent a year on our sailboat (S.V Afterglow) along the Eastern Seaboard from Annapolis to Maine and then Annapolis to George Town in the Bahamas. My sand collection has become enormous!

4. If not Higher Ed, what?

I have been an educator all my life and have taught in all levels—middle and high school to university and graduate school. I have worked at technical colleges as well as comprehensive colleges and universities. I love higher education and wish our nation would do more for those wanting to go to graduate school. Working with boards and college presidents is simply the natural path for me. Some say I have great stories to tell. Nevertheless, with my sand and fossil collecting hobby, I think now that I would have been a geologist if I could do it over again.  I love nature and the earth and the sciences of our planet.

5. What was the best piece of advice you have received?

            Listen and learn.  Although I am a high-energy person, I have learned to temper my own views and to listen better. Especially when I am working with boards, I know it is important to allow all participants opportunities to speak, to clear the air, to challenge the norms, and to create new goals. I cannot teach what someone is not willing to learn, and so I struggle to listen better, to ascertain the essentials needed for board unity, and to encourage honesty and frankness so that board unity and creativity can be fostered to achieve board goals.

6. What is your favorite drink?

            I love decaffeinated coffee, but a cold glass of fresh water is really my favorite.  Alcoholically, I enjoy crisp wines and interesting cocktails. In the Bahamas, my favorite drink was a “parrot crush” loaded with fresh mango!

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

            Vietnamese food is probably one of my favorites. Since I do so many international dinner events, this is a hard question to answer. I love to learn to cook and to eat all kinds of food. I am good about trying most new foods at least once, especially if it is a new cuisine or food for me. Right now, I love Bahamian cracked conch, but am well aware of the “conchservation” movement.

8. What is your favorite movie?

            Tough question: I loved Lord of the Rings, Die Hard, Bohemian Rhapsody, 2001 Space Odyssey, The English Patient, and sooooo many others. I don’t think I have a single favorite movie, but mostly I love dramas.

9. Fun fact?

            Once I jumped off a 20-foot cliff into icy waters while white water kayaking with my husband and son. Unbeknownst to me, they stayed in the kayak while I was climbing up the mountain to take the leap. I was stranded and had to jump. I guess I love adventure!

Norma Goldstein