The President's partner

Jun 30, 2006

Angela Liberty is settling in as Kettering's First Lady

Angela Liberty relaxes in the sun room of her "new" home and looks out of the attractive, rounded window in the President's house to see something she hasn't seen for most of her married life.

As the wife of President Stan Liberty, she has moved many times -- from Maine to Indiana, then to Texas, Virginia, Nebraska and Illinois before arriving in Flint last year. In 40-plus years of marriage, however, this is the first time she's been this far north. And to a woman from Maine, "north" has a very nice ring to it.

"I am a winter lover," she said, "so looking outside and seeing the snow falling was wonderful. We've lived in some lovely places around the country, but Michigan has the added benefit of being at the same latitude as Maine and that makes it feel like home," she chuckled.

Those who have come to know Angie Liberty as Kettering's First Lady have become accustomed to her easy laugh and kind nature. She's spent most of her first months at Kettering defining what "getting settled" means. There have been a few whirlwind trips to meet alumni, like a series of receptions in southern California and Florida, plus she has attended a variety of activities on campus including lectures, music events and even the recent fundraiser for the library.

In the meantime, there have been boxes to unpack at her new home and a community to get to know. "Flint has been a lovely fit for us," she said. "People have been concerned about making us feel welcome and comfortable here. We like to get involved and care about where we are," she said.

Where it began: The story of Angie and Stan Liberty is a story of a partnership, right from the beginning. Angela Gilbert had just graduated from high school in Fairfield, Maine, when she met a young musician named Stan Liberty, also from Maine. Both were working at the same hotel for the summer resort season.

"When I met Stan, I knew there was a two-career path possibility - music or engineering," she explained. "He was a senior in Electrical Engineering when we married in 1965. After he graduated, he went to Vietnam as a civilian employee of the Navy. When he returned, we decided he would seek an advanced degree in engineering."

She packed their belongings and moved to the scenic campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. In time, the family was blessed with a son, Stan II, and a daughter, Jennifer. "I was a stay-at-home Mom," she said, "but Stan and I always chose our road together. I finished my education in segments as we moved," she noted.

Angie had started her education at Burdette Business College in Boston in the mid-1960s but by the time she earned a degree in Management she was a seasoned household organizer and manager -- having moved her family from Maine to Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Old Dominion in Virginia and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in 1983.

"Then I had an opportunity to get involved in some very interesting work," she said. "I worked for a direct marketing company for 14 years, working as a director of sales and having a chance to build a sales organization. They were great people."

The family left Nebraska and moved to Peoria, Illinois, in 1998, where Stan became Provost at Bradley University and Angie joined Ruppman Marketing Technologies. In 1999, she became the director for executive and professional development at Bradley's Foster College of Business Administration.

At a time when both Flint and Kettering University are exploring their economic options, her resume reads like a checklist from a strategic plan: responsibilities including revenue growth, account profitability, customer service, marketing, and the development of new client andbusiness relationships. "Stan and I have always been interested in the socio-economic health of the communities we have lived in," she explained.

"Everywhere we have lived and worked, partnerships between local corporations and the university have been important to the local community," she said. "I'm very used to the university being a significant community asset and I'm interested in following the right path here in Flint." She is currently looking into volunteer roles in Flint's Cultural Center and other leading non-profit organizations in town. "Our commitment is to Kettering and the community," she noted. "We want to be involved citizens."

And when not busy with the professional side of her life, she takes special delight in one of the greatest blessings -- grandchildren! "When your children are growing up, you worry whether you have enough money to put them in Stride Rite shoes. Having grandchildren is totally different," she mused.

"I can't wait, they are all coming to visit," she said. The Libertys have twin, 11-year-old granddaughters, Alexis and Abby, who live in North Dakota, and they have a nine-year-old grandson, Devon, who lives in Illinois.

"They are the light of our lives," she said, "and they can't wait for summer to arrive either. Grampa and Grammy have a pool!"

Written by Patricia Mroczek
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