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Leadership Montgomery spotlights College of Education Dean for her ‘true leadership’

For Auburn University at Montgomery College of Education Dean Sheila Austin, community involvement is a natural extension of who she is.

“I believe where much is given, much is required,” Austin said. “I love bringing joy and hope to those searching for their purpose in life.”

Austin shared her commitment to serving in the community for Leadership Montgomery’s June issue of First Things First, the organization’s monthly newsletter. She was spotlighted as an alum of Leadership Montgomery’s Legacy Class XXXII and for her community work and long career as an educator.

a person sitting on a table

College of Education Dean Sheila Austin

Leadership Montgomery’s Legacy Class, a nine-month program with an emphasis on servant leadership, was established over three decades ago to bring together leaders of the black and white communities, which were greatly divided at that time, to study and solve critical issues that affect Montgomery. Alumni of the program represent “seasoned professionals” who are involved in the community, have a history of volunteerism and service, and have demonstrated concern and interest in Montgomery and its future.

As part of the spotlight feature, Austin also reflected on her early life and journey to become a seasoned educator over the past 46 years.

“As a child, I dreamed of becoming a professional singer,” she said. “I even won a competition singing Dionne Warwick’s Grammy Hall of Fame song ‘Alfie.’” But she also struggled in academics and with a childhood speech impediment, which she eventually overcame to build a successful career in education.

“Now, after 46 years in education, I am honored to serve as Dean of the College of Education, [one of the] the highest-ranking positions of any African American at Auburn University at Montgomery,” Austin said in the spotlight.

In the feature, Austin’s nominator to Leadership Montgomery’s Legacy Class noted she was deserving on the honor because of her unwavering commitment to serving Montgomery and students.

“Sheila Austin should definitely be recognized for her true leadership contributions in this community,” her nominator said. “In her role as Dean of the School of Education at Auburn University in Montgomery, she leads by example to make sure the students and faculty actively contribute and participate in community causes of their interests. She always says, ‘yes’ to requests for support from her and AUM. More specifically, she initiates strategies to get the word out to the widest net of people for events of diverse community interest. Montgomery is better because of Sheila Austin”

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