Lori Sundberg’s path to top at CSC winding but local

From the Register-Mail:

If you asked Lori Sundberg 20 years ago where she thought she’d be in 2010, she probably would have told you she’d be styling hair in her salon.

Now, as the sixth president of Carl Sandburg College, and in possession of not only her cosmetology degree but also her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, Sundberg is the first to say her career path has been non-traditional.

“I took a very circuitous route to be here,” she said with a laugh.

Born, raised and educated almost entirely in west-central Illinois, Sundberg is the first CSC president who also attended the school. After graduating from Galesburg High School in 1976, she went to CSC for her cosmetology degree, then went straight to work. She later owned her own salon on Losey Street, The Best Little Hair House.

“I was probably 29 and I always wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree, but I had no interest in changing careers,” Sundberg said. So she went back to CSC for two years and knocked out some general education requirements, then went on to Knox College to double major in economics, a lifelong interest, and history — somewhat of a surprise.

“I found as I was at Knox that history was something I really enjoyed, but I didn’t really know it,” she said.

She graduated from Knox in 1995, still with no plans for a career change. That’s when an economics professor at CSC asked her to fill in for a teacher who suddenly had to leave for medical reasons, teaching traditional classes as well as a distance learning class. She found she liked the position, and later took a job in institutional research at the college. She then obtained her MBA from Western Illinois University in 1998 and finally her doctorate at St. Ambrose University, graduating in 2003 with a degree in business administration.

“I really enjoy learning and I guess I just didn’t realize it until that point,” she said.