From dean of administration to costume designer


Kayla Friedrich

Sharron Scott

Sharron Scott studied at the University of Vermont, where she attained a degree in business administration with a concentration in management information systems. Before deciding to pursue a career in business, Scott began college majoring in music, followed by political science. After college, Scott moved to Minnesota with her family, but later returned to Vermont, where she eventually began working at Johnson State College as the dean of administration, a position she has held since 2004. But working for the VSC wasn’t always her dream.

Did you have a dream job as a child? What did you tell your parents you wanted to be when you grew up?

I was going to be president. That’s what I was always going to be, but then I realized what the president does, and I realized how much I would not want to be president, but that’s what I always said I wanted to be. Then in high school, I wanted to be on Broadway. Not musical theater, but acting. You can see I landed very far away from both of those.

So, what brought you to Johnson State?

After college I moved to Minnesota and worked for a large company, and found that I really wanted to be closer to home. My kids were small, and I wanted them to know their cousins and their grandparents, so my husband and I moved back to Vermont.
I came to work for the Vermont State Colleges, at the chancellor’s office as director of information systems for the first year.  While I was there, I had the opportunity to work one day a week here at Johnson. There was a duel assignment, so I worked for both President Murphy and the chancellor’s office, and I found that I really preferred having an opportunity to work closely with one of the colleges. I did a lot of work with each college in my first year there, but I liked having the opportunity to work with just one, and to be able to see the fruits of the work that I was doing, working more closely with the faculty, staff, and the students. So, when the position that I am in now opened up, I thought that it might be a good fit for my skills, so I landed here.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background, any other jobs you’ve held, and where you grew up?

I grew up in Burlington. I have three brothers and three sisters. My dad was a milkman, so I didn’t come from a lot of money or anything else, but I had the opportunity, as did all of my brothers and sisters, to go to college. College really is a transforming experience. It’s a opportunity for someone to move themselves out of where they are, and an opportunity to grow and develop in new ways.
While I was in college, I worked full time at a flower shop. I managed the flower shop and designed arrangements for weddings and funerals, and went to school full time. Then when I graduated, I went to work for a company called Ecolab. They make cleaning and sanitizing chemicals for all kinds of industries. They’re the worldwide leader in that, and they had, when I worked there, about 20,000 employees. I worked there for twelve years before coming back to Vermont, and I found that it is so much nicer work on something that has real meaning, as opposed to chemicals. When I worked at Ecolab, my first job there was as a computer programmer. By the time I left, I was managing a staff of about 60, who were writing, developing, and overseeing management of large-system computer programs: logistics, manufacturing, sales, services, financials, those kinds of things.

As dean of administration, what are your responsibilities?

I have pretty wide-ranging responsibilities. My primary role is that of chief financial officer. So, in most companies, that would be my title. I am responsible overall for the finances of the college. In addition to that, I have a number of other things that report to me. I am also the human resources officer, the chief technology officer, and in my division, not only is it finance, but physical infrastructure and camps and conferences. So, buildings, grounds, construction projects, selling the college in the summer, and at other various points. It’s a job that you can never be bored at.

With a new president entering Johnson State College, how do you think the administration will change?

Well, the administration of any college is derived very much from the president of the institution and the organization. I don’t know her yet, so I don’t know how it will change, but I do look forward to seeing whatever changes come. From everything that I have met of her and read of her, I think they will be very positive changes, and we will grow in new and different directions.

If you could quit this job tomorrow and have any job you want, what would you choose?

What would I choose? Hmmm. Well, I think president is already taken, and besides I wouldn’t want to do that anyway. Um, I think that if I were to quit this job tomorrow and take up any other job, I think I would want to go into consulting, and have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of organizations, and share my knowledge and expertise throughout the region and around the country. Overall management consulting.

What event in your life do you feel has shaped who you’ve become?

Moving away from home after I graduated from college truly shaped me in many ways. When you are 22, and you pick up and are away from your extremely large extended family, and have the opportunity to be on your own, it causes you to look at things in new and different ways.

Who is your favorite musician?

I really like Imagine Dragons. They’re awesome. I really like their choice of language. It’s usually ironic at times, and I think musically, particularly their percussion speaks to me. They’re usually pretty driving, but also, they’re pretty funny. You listen to a new song from them and you have to stop and actually listen, as opposed to other bands where you just hum along or whatever.

If you could have lunch with a famous person, dead or alive, whom would you choose?

Well, right now I would really like to have lunch with Brian Williams. I’d really like to know why he thought it necessary to embellish his stories regarding his experiences in Iraq. He’s already a really famous person, and he already had really interesting experiences, so, what caused him to embellish them to the point where he believed his own embellishments. That’s just someone right now, but I think as time goes on, it’s the things that are happening right at this moment that interest me the most. Right now there are similar things being said about Bill O’Reilly with what happened in the Falklands, but why would you feel the need to have to embellish it when it was already exciting.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

I was just talking about this with my kids the other day that we want to visit every state as a family. We have made it to every state in the eastern United States, but now we need to tackle those west of the Mississippi river. I’d like to visit every continent and every state, but right now with the kids, we are starting to plan some trips out west. I have two kids; a boy and a girl; 15 and 12.

What is the worst job you’ve ever held?
I have really like all of the jobs that I’ve held, but I would say working at the flower shop was probably the hardest work, just in terms of physical. You are on your feet all the time, you’re constantly cutting your hands, and pricking your fingers with rose thorns, and what not. So, there were elements of that job that I didn’t like, but I have a capacity to like what I do, and have been fortunate to work in jobs that I have enjoyed.

What is your biggest fear?

Snakes and I hate to fly. I do fly if I have to, but I hate snakes, all of them, even ones behind glass. They can be behind several layers of glass, and I still don’t like them. It always amazes me when we are at the pet store, my son has fish, and there will be someone in front of us with a snake in a box that they’re taking home, and I think, “Whose mother lets you do that?”
We also have a stone patio at our house, which sounded like a really great idea, until we realized that the snakes like to come out on the patio at night in the summer, because it’s warm from the sun, so now we cool the patio off with water before nighttime.
The whole movie “Snakes on a Plane” I couldn’t watch. Put snakes and flying together, and…

Would play you in the movie of your life?

Well, I’m going to say this, and I say it tongue in cheek, but when I first started working for the chancellor’s office, people got it into their head that I was not Sharron Scott, but Sharon Stone. So, I’m going to say Sharon Stone, only because to be as beautiful as her, which I’m not, would be fabulous. Also, just because people still occasionally introduce me as Sharon Stone, even though I don’t think Sharron Scott and Sharon Stone sound anything alike. Maybe it’s the blonde hair, but I don’t know.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I’d say my most embarrassing moment is being late for my own wedding. You have an entire church filled with your family and friends, and I had a small wardrobe malfunction that turned into a larger wardrobe malfunction. So, I was close to 40 minutes late, and you never want to make your guest wait at your wedding. They get annoyed, and I am known for being on time. My husband was freaking out a little, standing up there at the altar waiting. There was no question we were getting married, but it was embarrassing. I had sworn that I would never be late for something like that, because it was just ridiculous, but there I was late.

Is there anything else you’d like the JSC community to know about you?

My big thing that I do for fun is that I work on costumes. My daughter does theater on ice and I make the costumes for her theater on ice team and plays, and other things she has been in. Costume design is my creative outlet outside of work. I have not done any of the shows here, because usually the stuff that my kids are doing keeps me busy, but she’s going to go to college soon, and I’ll be looking for other outlets, so they should keep me in mind.