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Columbia Missourian

Stephens president uses social media to connect with campus

By Evan Bush
August 4, 2009 | 6:03 p.m. CDT

Dianne Lynch: Fireside chats

COLUMBIA — For Stephens College President Dianne Lynch, social media is a way to reach out to the community and show a bit of her personality.

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She started a blog at amazingwomen.typepad.com to share her experiences at Stephens College, to highlight the accomplishments of Stephens students and to give herself a voice that some students don’t have the chance to hear. 

Lynch, 53, has blogged about her first days in Columbia, living with Stephens students in Tower Hall and about the exceptional job Stephens students did at an Okoboji, Iowa, theater performance.

“It (the blog) gives people a glimpse of who I am, and how I think, and certainly how I speak and the things that go on in my life, as well as the things I care about in terms of the institution,” Lynch said. 

Lynch blogs consistently. She updates between three and five times per week, although she said moving to Columbia and traveling during the summer keeps her from her goal of blogging every day. Lynch thinks about blogging “constantly” and jots ideas in a notebook exclusively for thoughts on future blogs. 

As a former journalist, Lynch wrote an online column for Wired Women on ABCNews.com. “I am intentionally accessible,” she said, “I’m a communicator. It’s my background.”

As an undergraduate student in Wisconsin, she said she would have been thrilled if administrators had spoken to her or taken a personal interest in her studies. Her hope is the blog makes her available to students. 

“Being the president is the most wonderful job in the world, but it doesn’t allow the time for as much one-on-one or small-group conversation,” Lynch said.

Lynch is cautious not to share too much of her personal life, however. 

“I’m more than happy to laugh at myself about the trivial things in my life that happen to me,” she said. “That’s certainly part of my personality type. But I certainly am circumspect about what I share and what I don’t. The kind of stories I tell on the blog are the same stories I would tell at a social gathering.”

Lynch said the blog entry she got the most response from readers about detailed her experience of getting stuck in a Stephens elevator. Lynch said the purpose of blogs is to start conversation and bring ideas together. Response lets her know the community is listening. 

“It’s a social experience. That’s why they call it social media," she said. "I’m always really gratified when someone takes time to respond.”