1. You’ve been in the role of president for not quite a year now. What has proven to be your biggest challenge so far and how are you working to solve it?
The biggest challenge has been balancing my time so that I can spend as much time as possible establishing relationships on campus, within our community, and with my colleagues within the VCCS as well as other leaders from across the state. I make sure I spend time simply walking around campus and talking with faculty, staff, and students. Also, I make every effort to attend community events to meet new people and to build relationships with community members. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate to participate this year in LEAD Virginia whereby I’ve been able to meet numerous leaders from across the state that will certainly serve as a resource as I continue to grow in my understanding of Virginia. Lastly, I’ve been able to attend a few VCCS conferences and have been asked to serve on a few committees and task forces within the VCCS system which has allowed me to meet and/or work more system colleagues.
2. Establishing an employer-friendly culture and developing new career programs – are those the kind of things one might find on your short list of priorities? If so, why?
Working closely with our business and community leaders and local government officials helps build and strengthen relationships that places the College in a position of strength to better serve those within our region. Being flexible and responsive to business, industry, and community needs establishes the trust that SWCC will do what it takes to develop both credit and non-credit programs that will meet the local demand now and in the future.
3. What makes a good community college president? How would you describe your style of leadership?
A good community college president should serve the campus and the community by listening closely to insure challenges are met and successes are celebrated. This requires being actively engaged on campus, throughout the community, and within the overall field of higher education. The time spent meeting both formally and informally with campus faculty, staff, students, community members, and colleagues within the filed is priceless as it provides an enormous amount of feedback that can be used to support new initiatives or improve existing ones. In short, all of this can be summed up to building strong quality relationships.
From a textbook standpoint my styles may cross between transformational and democratic. In other words, from a transformational perspective, I do enjoy the big picture and I’d prefer someone else to work out the fine details. However the big picture idea would ideally evolve from somewhat of a democratic process. I value and appreciate the input of the broader group and welcome the questions that helps better guide our decisions.
4. If you could get an audience with a prospective student who’s on the fence when it comes to furthering their education, what would you say are the benefits of an education at SWCC?
While attending SWCC you’ll be surrounded and supported by a caring and dedicated faculty and staff who cares deeply about not only your success but the success of the community and region. Employers within the region respect and value a degree or certification from SWCC. They know SWCC alumni have been challenged in the classroom and have succeeded and can therefore thrive in their chosen occupation. Last but certainly not least is the quality out of class opportunities in clubs, athletics, and special interest groups provides SWCC students with many opportunities to strengthen existing relationships or to build new friendships.
5. Please tell us something about yourself (i.e., hobbies, interests, etc.) that our readers would be interested in learning about you.
I enjoy traveling, golfing, horses, and spending as much time as possible with my wife and daughter who are still residing in Tennessee until next May when our daughter graduates high school. I’ve also recently made the commitment to get back into running, which was something I’ve done extensively in the past, including completing a full 26.2 mile marathon.
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