‘Increasing the quality of programs and services for adult learners’
Serving as the Dean of the Division of Extended Learning at Houston Community College, my administrative tenure has been devoted to making a difference and serving our most vulnerable and forgotten in society. This scope and opportunity allow me to engineer a vision that provides district-wide leadership and campus-based management for the largest workforce education operation in the nation. Through seven major reporting units, we serve adult learners in School of Continuing Education, Apprenticeship Programs, Corrections Education, VAST Academy, the Center for Health Care Professionals, Online Continuing Education, and the Accelerated Teacher Certification. Our division is able to reach and impact not only the academic and workforce needs of our adult learners, but also engage adult learners in programming that builds and develops self-esteem, confidence, self-efficacy, and motivation. As a result of this vision, our 47 programs have enrolled more than 16,700, students generated more than $16.3M in revenue annually and has placed over 80% in jobs related to their adult learning programming. During my tenure and in response to serving the needs of our adult learning and industry, we have launched new high growth, high demand programs in Corrosion Technology, Maritime Logistics, Cyber-Security, Nonprofit Management, and Industrial Technology and Energy. I have also led the reorganization effort of the division by crafting a bold new vision that integrates social justice and customer relations lifecycle modeling. This approach takes into consideration best practices from high-performing organization framework, CRM technology and a holistic approach to serving adult students, with special emphasis on Veterans, foster care youth, seniors, and those in lower socio-economic conditions. Additionally, I’ve worked with my division though facilitating professional development to enhance their skill set and help them navigate through the transition from a traditional education delivery systems to a more innovative service approach, where an adult-centric learning perspective is at the center of our operations, instruction, and services.
‘Increasing the visibility of adult learners and their achievements’
During my tenure at HCC, I established the first Alpha Sigma Lambda chapter in Houston Community College’s 46-year history. This took place in 2012 based on the need to recognize our adult learners, who work so hard and have many competing interests that oftentimes keep them from pursuing education Each year, HCC holds an awards banquet and induction ceremony for our adult learners and the faculty, who have excelled in Workforce related programs. In addition, the Workforce program under my prevue has been featured in the local media, in location publication such as the Houston Chronicle and also national wide produced publications such the Career Focus and Houston at Work magazine all highlight the achievements of workforce adult learners and faculty throughout the Houston area. These publications and television segments have reached over 1 million ones in the local Houston area. Further, Alpha Sigma Lambda has attracted the attention of our City Mayor, the Controller, the nonprofit community, as well as, Workforce development agencies at the local and state level. Each month at our institutions’ board meetings, we high an adult learning who’s excelled academically and professionally.
One of the biggest challenges I faced happened early in my career, at Houston Community College. I entered the role of Associate Dean of Workforce Development at one of the campuses. It was apparent that my arrival to this campus was seen as a sign of hope as there was much distress. The faculty was discouraged, defeated, and devastated. Staff was despondent and discouraged. Students were dismayed and disillusioned. The atmosphere was thick with distrust. As a result, enrollment suffered, the climate was at its lowest point, and student needs weren’t being met. Being a new leader, it was my duty to change this culture and rebuild trust. The task seemed insurmountable, given the past history, climate and distrust. Coming from a system officer perspective, which was broad and singular in scope, I had to transform my thinking and role to a micro level to involve multiple stakeholders in action. Each month at our institutions’ board meetings, we highlight an adult learning who’s excelled academically and professionally.
‘Fostering positive relationships between local ASLHS members and faculty/staff’
This role was a metamorphosis of both in consciousness and practice. In order to meet this challenge and solve the major problems, I had to devise a plan, not only on how to advance workforce development but also how to rebuild and change this depressed climate and usher in a sense of healing. This plan worked to build a structure, based on the framework of appreciative inquiry that calmed fears, built trust, continuity, team cohesion, and a focused direction of growth and development. Time was spent in facilitated meetings, working together brainstorming as a single unit to move towards organizational success. As a social science researcher and an educator from the humanist camp, I knew I had to work on the soul and spirit of the division. I did this by working to encourage faculty and staff through ropes courses, team building, and trust exercises. This work also allowed faculty and staff to be assigned to teams to create, present, and facilitate their ideas. I also began to recognize faculty and staff on their accomplishments. Mobilizing assets and initiating change from a grassroots level helped produced phenomenal results that lead to new policies to be developed, doubling the enrollment, greater division continuity, more partnerships with industry and, improved relationships. The heart of this work was the work of the heart. When you engage people at a level of trust with integrity and are consistent with action, you are able to obtain buy-in. This buy-in is what helps get the results to turn around an organization. Central to this work was the integration of Alpha Sigma Lambda staff and students who were inducted in the organization.
ASLHS helped provide a single focus and direction, which was serving the adult learner and helping support those students who had multiple social obligations and commitments. It helped us see our work in a different light.
The perspectives of the inducted adult learning honor students helped provide the narrative as to what we as faculty and administration should be all about. Hearing their voices and stories helped provide faculty a stronger link and connection to serving our adult students. ASLHS faculty and staff from across the district would routinely participate in our team building and student success seminars, by providing that voice that advocates for adult learners. Because of this integration of ASLHS inducted members, students, and faculty, with my work as Associate Dean and now as Dean, my team and I have been able to move the needle in transforming both instructional and operational practices that enhance the ultimate adult learning experience.
2018 WILLIAM C. HINE SERVICE AWARDEE
DR. TERRY KIDD, Dean
School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Houston Community College