As Woodland Community College awaits accreditation, its campus continues to grow with the construction of the new Learning Resource Center and the addition of two new deans.
Questions about the possibility of a new Associate Dean of Instruction and Learning Resources at Woodland Community College were answered in late January, when Dr. Beatriz Vasquez moved into her new office in the Science building (600).
With a genuine smile, gentle Argentinean accent and an office that smells like delicious candy, Vasquez welcomes all visitors. “As much as I can,” she said, “I try to work on an open door policy.”
Vasquez came to WCC after having served as the Dean of Academic and Student Affairs and a biology professor at Riverside Community College’s Norco campus.
Although students were adjusting to their new class schedules after returning from their winter break, they noticed the addition of Vasquez’s smiling face and cheerful demeanor as she said hello to students and toured the facilities.
By February a rumor was circulating that another new Associate Dean would be seen on campus. Although several sources confirmed that someone had been hired, her identity remained confidential until March, when Dr. Stacey A. Cook was revealed as the new Associate Dean of Student Services.
Arriving on campus with experience as the Director of Student Affairs and the Health Center at the College of Marin, Cook moved comfortably into her new position.
Attracted to Woodland’s “surprising level of diversity,” Cook was also responsible for the Children’s Center, Matriculation, Outreach and the Student Equity Plan before coming to Woodland with prospects of working, “with as many different students from different backgrounds as possible.”
If they listen closely, students who are having difficulty finding Cook can hear the faint sounds of her favorite lively Salsa music drifting from her open office door located near the rear entrance of the Administration building (100).
Both of the new Deans are a welcome addition, which was demonstrated by the large turnout at the student lounge, when a pizza party was held to introduce Cook and Vasquez to the students, faculty and staff.
Without a typical day to describe, Vasquez explains that her position as the Dean of Instruction and Learning Resources is challenging. Motivated by the personal belief that, “life is here-you have to face it and use it (because) it is short,” Vasquez also enjoys the challenge of balancing plans for WCC’s past, present and future.
Pleased with the atmosphere of the campus, Vasquez hopes to help build “the success of an independent college.”
Despite a busy schedule filled with meetings with faculty, students, staff and schools in the area, she appears completely at ease.
“I am very enthusiastic,” Vasquez said as she explained her involvement in the accreditation of Woodland’s campus and previous projects at Riverside Community College’s Norco campus. “I have a lot of energy. I’m willing to answer any question,” she continued. “I’m very open and very positive. I’m pretty much a doer.”
Like Vasquez, who said, “We need to look at the needs of the community to see that this school has everything that’s needed,” Cook also believes in “connecting beyond the borders.”
Cook’s welcoming smile and comforting presence can be attributed to her personal spin on the old phrase, “Each one, teach one,” to “Each one, reach one.” She believes that an outreach recruitment and retention program would help reach this goal.
Jotting down notes for ideas on leadership development and helping Woodland’s Associated Students, Cook explains that her motivation stems from the positive synergy and the momentum of success found on Woodland’s campus.
Cook has worked for 20 years in the educational system. She started her career at UC Berkeley, where she had studied political science and ethnic studies before moving into public administration and receiving her doctorate in education.
Excitedly, Cook explained her Starbucks’ theory in relation to what she plans to accomplish at Woodland. “No matter where you go, no matter what Starbucks you go to, in whatever city you know-when you enter the door, you know where to go to order, you know what’s on the menu and you know where to pick up your order.”
Laughing, she added, “In some ways it seems monotonous, but in other ways it cuts down on time, and it’s convenient for the customers. Not that I want us to be Starbucks-like, but in terms of ease of use and accessibility for students, I think it would be a great thing.”
Both Cook and Vasquez made it clear that laughter is encouraged. As the two new deans put their heads together with Dr. Angela Fairchilds, the college president, Woodland’s preparation for growth should be an enjoyable adventure.