Wintering Into Wisdom

Wintering Into WisdomIn 2008, KSU Press released a book edited by KSU English professor, Elizabeth Giddens called Wintering into Wisdom. Wintering Into Wisdom: A Festschrift for Dr. Betty Lentz Siegel honors the emeritus president of Kennesaw State University with a collection of essays for all leaders, particularly for those who lead educational institutions. The essays by novelist Ferrol Sams, Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, former President of both Spelman and Bennett Colleges Johnnetta Cole, educational psychologist William Purkey, college freshman advocate Betsy Barefoot, educator Sally Hare, and seven others explore the bases of successful leadership, including its spiritual foundations, its challenges and compromises, and its dependence on personal integrity. These essays describe the lives of leaders from the inside and instruct others in balancing complex professional and personal lives.

Inspired by this book, Dr. Siegel created a new initiative - Wintering into Wisdom

The times are continuing to change. Gone is the notion that once a person retires, there is no longer a need for purpose. With the life expectancy rate rising, and the growing number of individuals who are retiring from the professional world at earlier ages, there is a wonderful opportunity to change the way that we perceive our third act in life.

Wintering into Wisdom is a new initiative as a natural progression from Dr. Siegel's life work in ethics, leadership and character. The concept was based on a book by the same name published in 2008 by KSU Press, honoring Emeritus President, Dr. Betty Siegel. With contributions from Senator Johnny Isakson, novelist Ferrol Sams, and former president of Spelman and Bennet Colleges, Johnetta Cole, among others; the book focuses on the role of ethical leadership and personal integrity in both professional and personal lives. This initiative will continue the pursuit of teaching these ideas through seminars and learning institutions.

With initiatives already in place for Ethics and Leadership in Education and Business, this third tier will complete Dr. Siegel’s vision of promoting self awareness and leadership skills through all stages of life. These are ideas that she has established over a long and successful life and career, and ideas that she still practices when reflecting on her own age. As she has said, “The psychological age is more important than the chronological age. I love the idea of continuing to be very excited about work.”

Wealth and comfort can often breed complacency, and often people waste the very time that they have worked for. So much of our society’s potential is lost when purpose is forgotten. Retirement is not the end of purpose. Rather, it is the opportunity to truly pursue that which brings joy in our lives. It is the time to embrace the freedoms that a successful career has provided. The prime of our lives occurs when we are living our passion.

When people learn how to grasp the potential of this remarkable time in life, and become leaders in the community, in education, and the business world, then a new door will open up between generations. Too long has our society ignored the lessons learned by those that came before us. We are forced to relearn all that has been learned by others instead of using the knowledge to further ourselves as a whole. 

Dr. Siegel introduced the Wintering into Wisdom Initiative in the Summer of 2008 at a conference of leaders in the academic community in Vail, Colorado. The long-range goal of the Wintering into Wisdom Initiative is to establish an educational center in Atlanta to train speakers to successfully promote the idea of remaining positive, productive and wise into the later years of a successful life. More events are in the planning stages.

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