Madam President: Meet Joan Gabel

It’s been three years since Joan Gabel landed in the North, bringing her southern influence to the role of top Gopher. She had been on the job for less than a year when the world shut down in spring of 2020, the Twin Cities erupted over George Floyd’s murder, and education as we knew it was turned on its head. No stranger to social unrest, Gabel was a dean at the University of Missouri when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson in 2014 and became provost of the University of South Carolina soon after Black churchgoers were gunned down in Charleston in 2015.

Born in New York and raised in Atlanta, Gabel went to college at the age of 16, earned a law degree, found her way to higher ed, then worked her way up—and up—while raising three children. We checked in with her for our series featuring forward-thinking women, presented by Evereve.

It’s been an extraordinary few years since you stepped into this role. How do the pandemic and our community’s racial justice groundswell fit together, in your opinion?

The chronology was concurrent, of course, and what we went through here these last few years was a wave that went all over the country and around the world, but ultimately, they were distinct events. Yet, when taken together, they call on us to reflect and ask ourselves important questions, like what it means to be healthy and well; to feel safe, respected, and included; to be equitable and just.

As we’ve leaned into these important questions as a university and as a community, I know there is no place I would rather be, which is a very helpful realization at the hardest times.

Why did you start college at age 16?

I started my education in Catholic school, and the assignment of your grade level was based on some sort of proprietary evaluation that the sisters did. That’s where they put me. I don’t really know why, but I was a child, and I went where they told me.

How is college different now than it was when you went to school?

The nature of technology has made a very big impact. Athletics has changed the student experience a lot, in my opinion. And I think student expectations have become more multidimensional. So at the core, of course, is the education that occurs in the classroom, but there is a much more organized architecture around what happens beyond the classroom that was more ad hoc when I was a student. And I think that’s really good.

What’s your favorite thing about Minnesota?

People who aren’t from here don’t realize how much being outside is a part of life here. There is an assumption that the weather prevents that—I did not realize how much the weather actually creates it, and I have embraced that and come to really enjoy it for my own little slice of coping through the pandemic. Now, a couple of winters later, I look forward to those activities in ways that I didn’t know I would and don’t understand how anybody wouldn’t.

Oh, I love it.

Yeah, even saying it out loud to you right now, I’m a little surprised. And, I mean, I like Minnesota Nice. People have been really welcoming and helpful, and I needed help like anybody who’s new does. And so that hit me right where I needed it, and I’m really grateful for that. And then I love a good Juicy Lucy and a beer.

How would you describe your style?

There’s a lot of time in dry-clean only and high heels in this kind of job. So when I’m not working, I like to feel put together but comfortable. I have plenty of jeans-and-sweatshirts moments or a cute top, cute pants kind of thing. I embrace—despite some incentives not to—that when I feel put together, I feel better, even when I’m casual.

How was your Evereve fitting?

It’s been a long time since I was in a store or shopped for clothes—but it was such a pleasure to take a moment and receive professional advice. It’s helpful, in the right situation, to see yourself through someone else’s eyes and trust the advice.

On Gabel: “Ever Straight” jeans ($128), Chaser Heirloom Woven tee ($68), Dolce Vita “Patli” sandals ($90), Paige “Pacey” jacket ($249), and “Roxie” multi-color necklace ($44), from EVEREVE,

This article originally appeared in the July 2022 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine as part of our series, The Foreword, presented by Evereve.

Source link

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

We use WooCommerce as a shopping system. For cart and order processing 2 cookies will be stored. This cookies are strictly necessary and can not be turned off.
  • woocommerce_cart_hash
  • woocommerce_items_in_cart

Decline all Services
Accept all Services
Open Privacy settings