The VCCS Blog is introducing a new series entitled Take Five in which we pose five questions to individuals who have played a pivotal role in shaping policy for our organization and in the process, influenced the lives of thousands of our students. In this week’s edition, outgoing State Board for Community Colleges member Dr. Mirta Martin is profiled.
1. What has your experience on the State Board for Community Colleges been like? Do you feel that you’ve helped make a difference?
It has been an honor to serve on the State Board for Community Colleges. I’ve had the unique privilege to have served the chancellor and the Commonwealth both as an employee and as a Board member. I’ve seen first hand the results of excellence and leadership. The achievements of the VCCS are second to none. I believe my knowledge of the enterprise as well as the friendships I made during my tenure allowed me to carry out the responsibilities as a board member efficiently. I believe that together with the rest of the Board, we’ve made a difference. The VCCS and its people have certainly made a difference in my life.
2. What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment as a member of the State Board and why?
That’s a really tough question. I think that the sum total of what the VCCS has accomplished is impressive. But one individual does not do it alone. We rely on the leadership of the presidents, the expertise of the faculty and staff, the voice of our students and the vision that is formulated by the Chancellor with the input from all constituents. My biggest accomplishment is being part of a family that really cares about providing affordable educational opportunities for its future leaders.
3. What was the most important decision you made as a Board member?
To extend the Chancellor’s contract to ensure excellence continues at the VCCS!
4. You’ll be leaving soon for your new job as president of Fort Hays State University in Kansas. What will you miss most about your career with the VCCS?
The people- the family that makes up the VCCS- they, I will miss the most. But, I carry with me the friendships I’ve forged throughout the years. I’ll miss the wise counsel from Dr. DuBois and Dr. Rhodes- but I know I’ll stay in touch despite the distance.
5. What would you like to tell your colleagues here in Virginia as you make your way to the exit door?
As I leave Virginia, allow me to share with you with these words which have guided me for years. They come from Kouzes and Posner, leadership gurus:
Beyond the horizon of time is a changed world; very different from today’s world. Some people see beyond that horizon and into the future. They believe that dreams can become reality. They open our eyes and lift our spirits. They build trust and strengthen relationships. They stand firm against the winds of resistance and give us the courage to continue the quest. We call these people leaders.
I have been extremely fortunate to have had extraordinary leaders as mentors throughout my life. I am thankful to the many individuals who took time to be an adviser, a friend, an advocate. They reaffirmed the importance of family, friendships and home. I will be forever in their debt.
It is said that sometimes one has to leave a home to find a home. That’s what I’m doing. It’s an honor to be entrusted with the care of a incredible institution filled with talented, dedicated, caring people. This is my new home, and I am thankful for my new family.
For those of us who are educators, we share common values. We have a strong work ethic and a passion to make a difference. Those values transcend our physical location. And so, while I will be away from the VCCS, I’ll always stay connected – through our values and our friendships.
I will leave you then, with a parting thought: Always follow your passion! If you do, you will find fulfillment and happiness. I have!
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