UA’s community campus directors share passion for students, communities

From the back moving left around the table are directors Teisha Simmons, Interior-Aleutians Campus; Mary Pete, Kuskokwim Campus; Deborah McLean, Bristol Bay Campus; Pauline Harvey, Chukchi Campus; Barb Bolson, Kodiak College; Cynthia Rogers, Eagle River; Doug Desorcie, Prince William Sound Community College; and Talis Colberg, Mat-Su College. Photo by Kate Ripley

If information is power, then powerful things happen when all of the UA System’s community campus directors get together, as they did Feb. 13-14, 2012, on the UAF campus.  

The Community Campus Directors Council gathers in person twice each year--once in the fall and once in the spring--at their own expense. The goal? Share information, support each other and, ultimately, better support student learning and achievement at UA’s community campuses and rural centers across the state.

"We started these meetings eight years ago because it was felt that the community campus directors had more in common as a group than they did with the respective MAU deans,” said Kenai Peninsula College Director Gary Turner.  “While it’s important to meet with our deans on a regular basis, sharing ideas, issues and best practices across the statewide community campus system are just as important.”

Turner said the regular fall and spring meetings also gives community campus directors the opportunity to hear from UA System executives directly.

The agenda for the February “CCDC Spring Conference,” as it’s called, included sessions with UA President Pat Gamble, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers, and many others. Pat Jacobson of Kodiak, chair of the UA Board of Regents, also attended this year’s spring meeting of the community campus directors. The directors’ meeting was scheduled just prior to the February Board of Regents’ meeting, also in Fairbanks later that same week.

President Gamble spoke to the CCDC about the ongoing work to shift the strategic direction of the UA System, a collaborative process known as Shaping Alaska’s Future 2017. The goal of the effort is to help the university become more productive and aligned with priorities of students, employers and the people of the state, which will differ from campus to campus. He also spoke with the directors about resource planning and other issues, and listened to their concerns and feedback.

A working lunch the first day featured a legislative update from Chris Christensen, associate vice president for state relations, and a budget update from Michelle Rizk, associate vice president for budget. Karl Kowalski, chief information technology officer for the UA System, spoke about IT services and responsibilities to community campuses.

Mary Pete, director of the UAF Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel, agrees the meetings are beneficial, not only for matters on the official agenda, but for the informal opportunities to network as well.

“We share best practices and compare challenges, hear from UA leadership and have off-record discussions with directors that face similar issues,” Pete said.  “Community campus directors often have more in common with each other than they do with their main MAU.”

The face-to-face aspect is very important. Pete noted that a “myriad of interruptions typical of a day in the life of a campus director—from a time-sensitive decision regarding a renovation project, a downed sprinkler system in a dorm, or weather hampering student travel to attend an intensive—make an audio-conferenced meeting of a group like this problematic.”

Other presenters included Saichi Oba, associate vice president for student and enrollment services, who gave the group an update on student services. Paula Donson, associate vice president for academic affairs, and Chas St. George, Strategic Direction coordinator, addressed the group about the ongoing listening sessions being held across the state. Dan Julius, vice president for academic affairs, talked to the group about issues such as a common core curriculum and perhaps moving to a system of common cut scores for placement test purposes.

The second day of the conference featured an update from the three MAU provosts: Mike Driscoll, UAA; Rick Caulfield, UAS; and Susan Henrichs, UAF. Bruce Schultz, UAA vice chancellor for student affairs, and David Weaver, MAP-Works coordinator for UAA’s Office of Student Affairs, gave the directors an overview of the MAP-Works program. MAP-Works uses predictive analytics to build a unique student profile that fosters student success, strong campus connections and appropriate interventions for students who need it.

A presentation by the College Board’s Brett Miller on ACCUPLACER placement tests, and how the tests help place students in appropriate core classes based on math, English and reading skills, was the focus of a working lunch the second day.

Other sessions included technology enhanced learning with presenters from Kodiak (Kitty Deal and Suzanne Buie); Sitka (Kathi Baldwin and Deb Barnett) and Kenai (Heather Nash and Susan Mircovich).

This year’s CCDC coordinator was Jeff Johnston, director of the UAS Sitka Campus. The coordinator is responsible for scheduling speakers, coordinating the venue and distributing information to the other directors.

“As a community campus director, I’m always looking for ways to better meet the needs of our unique student population--the part-time, working, adult learner,” Johnston said. “Our meetings give me the opportunity to see what programs other community campuses are using and to discuss what initiatives campus directors need to promote, such as a single UA sign-on and a common UA learning management system.”

The members of the Community Campus Directors group are:

  • Deborah McLean, Director, Bristol Bay Campus (Dillingham)
  • Pauline Harvey, Interim Director, Chukchi Campus (Kotzebue)
  • Teisha Simmons, Interim Director, Interior-Aleutians Campus (six rural Interior and Aleutian Chain centers)
  • Mary Pete, Director, Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel)
  • Bob Metcalf, Interim Director, Northwest Campus (Nome)
  • Bernice Joseph, UAF Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education
  • Michele Stadler, Interim Dean, UAF Community and Technical College
  • Gary Turner, Director, Kenai Peninsula College
  • Carol Swartz, Director, KPC’s Kachemak Bay Campus
  • Talis Colberg, Director, Mat-Su College
  • Doug Desorcie, Director, Prince William Sound Community College (Valdez)
  • Stephen Strom, Associate Dean, UAA Community and Technical College
  • Karen Schmitt, Dean, UAA Community and Technical College
  • Cynthia Rogers, Director, Chugiak-Eagle River Campus (UAA CTC)
  • Barbara Bolson, Director, Kodiak College
  • Tony Mansueto, Director, UAS Ketchikan Campus
  • Jeff Johnston, Director, UAS Sitka Campus
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