ELIZABETH ROLLINS EPPERLY is a scholar, author, curator, English professor, and former president (1995–1998) of the University of Prince Edward Island. She taught at Memorial University of Newfoundland for eight years and at the University of Prince Edward Island for 22 years where she founded the L.M. Montgomery Institute and served as UPEI’s fourth (and first female) president.
I am writing about power to do rather than about power over; about power as a means to a larger end, rather than as a thing to acquire or to prize in itself. I am writing for those who want to work with others to create better practices and better attitudes for living healthily, mindfully, on our planet.
I am writing to encourage other women to pursue positions of power and acknowledged authority especially if fear of power is holding them back. Many teachers helped me to become a university president, and among the most useful was Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher whose 2500-year old Tao Te Ching describes power in terms of energy, and effective leaders as those mindful of energy tensions and flow. I hope my story, by analogy, will help others to recognize and pursue the creative flow between the tensions in their own lives.
by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly
Elizabeth Rollins Epperly recounts her experience of leadership as the president of the University of Prince Edward Island in this beautifully written creative memoir—a book that is both funny and moving.
When she became President in 1995, Epperly began to reshape the university into a more vibrant, forward-looking and inclusive institution. Her tenure was a success, but she met many obstacles along the way. Epperly’s narrative considers analogies of leadership, particularly her own past experiences, as ways of understanding the challenges she faced as president. She also draws insight from the 2500-year-old meditations of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, a search for the middle path between contending forces.
Her account of the kinds of people who often oppose change, and her mindful use of Lao Tzu to bring resolution, makes for nothing short of mesmerizing reading. Known for her profound and sensitive literary readings, Epperly also has an intuitive understanding of body language and of unseen flows of energy that adds layers of fascination to the narrative. Running a large institution is challenging enough; doing so as the first female president required fortitude and insight (not to mention patience).
This book will interest those contemplating power and authority in their own lives. If you have ever signed a contract or worked against behind-the-scenes politics, Power Notes may help you to think about analogies of leadership, and positions of power, in new ways.
5.5 X 8.5
Available May 16, 2017