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2012 Most Influential Women Honoree: Anne Liners Brett, Ph.D.

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As president and CEO of Cox College since 2007, Anne Liners Brett has fostered a spirit of growth.

Faced immediately with several challenges, Brett took a head-on approach focused on seeing opportunities rather than problems at the school that focuses on training nurses and others for the health care field.

“The issues I was confronted with included declining enrollment, poor reputation in the community and within CoxHealth, a deficit budget, dissatisfied workforce that had 104 percent turnover between 2005 and 2007, and issues pending with the accrediting agencies,” Brett says. “I remember thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then, being the eternal optimist, I realized, ‘there is nowhere to go but up.”

During her first year, Brett established a leadership team focused on taking strategic, reasonable risks to bring about change. The team implemented a core value that nothing is impossible, with a focus on teamwork and measurable risk initiatives, and its efforts seem to be bringing desired results.

Enrollment at the college has nearly doubled to 839 students in spring 2012 from 450 in spring 2008; in fiscal year 2011, the college had a 15 percent margin of revenue over expenses; and the school’s workforce grew to 96 employees from 62, with a 12 percent turnover rate. The college also has received accreditation to add new programs such as a bachelor’s in diagnostic imaging, a master’s in nursing and associate degrees in medical assisting and radiography. In 2011, Brett led the absorption of CoxHealth Education Center into Cox College, a move she says allows the school to provide a continuum of education.

“As the president of Cox College, I believe my job is to articulate the vision and then remember it takes the whole college to make it a reality. Leadership is about teamwork,” she says.

Brett has pursued opportunities for Cox College through collaborating with other area schools.

“I think the success of the college during the last five-plus years has been a direct result of the willingness to open doors through collaboration that results in a win for everyone,” Brett says of partnerships with Drury and Evangel universities, Ozarks Technical Community and Baptist Bible colleges, as well as agreements with Cottey College in Nevada and Southwest Missouri Hospital College of Health Science in Cape Girardeau.

A graduate of Leadership Springfield Class XXIV, Brett’s community roles include membership on the Ozarks Region Workforce Investment Board and the Ozark Region P-20 Council Steering Committee, focused on preparing the region’s future workforce.

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