Dean of Curriculum, Planning and Research retires

Finalist Jason Kovac answers questions during forum on Thursday
Photo by Jeanette Wright

Clackamas Community College seeks replacement for retiring Dean of Curriculum, Planning and Research; with one finalist dropping out, the only candidate left is Jason Kovac, who introduced himself and answered questions during a forum on Thursday.

Bill Waters has been with CCC as an instructor for 12 years and three as a Dean. Waters is retiring in hopes of spending more time travelling and enjoying personal hobbies. He is excited to return to teaching part-time in the business department.

Kovac began as a librarian at Morton College in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked for five years. Kovac was also Executive Director for Academic Initiatives at Johnson County Community College in Olathe, Kansas for four years, and has been Dean of Academic Foundations and Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany for four years.

The name of Waters’ division is also changing to Institutional Effectiveness and Planning. The name change will better represent the outcomes of the departments and work of the division, Amanda Coffey, CCC’s Transition Liaison said.

As the college has grown and the higher education environment has become more complex, CCC has needed more disciplined processes, better data, and authentic assessments of student learning, Waters said.

“I have been lucky to work with professionals who have tackled these issues with a lot of hard work and care for students,” Waters said. “The Curriculum, Planning, and Research division has really matured in our ability to help the college meet students’ needs.”

The new dean will have an instrumental role to play in shaping the future of endeavours such as progressive staff training efforts.

“We have solid curriculum processes in place, and I don’t see those fundamental processes changing much,” Waters said. “The college’s attention is on our transition to guided pathways, and where the guided pathways work intersects with curriculum and scheduling that department will certainly be involved.”

“Guided pathways” is a new approach to helping students find their way through higher education. CCC is partnering with the Chemeketa, Lane, Rogue and Southwestern community colleges in the program, which begins in May.

Student success is important to CCC, and Waters has enjoyed seeing the changes made in CCC to better support students.

“When I teach in the classroom I have the opportunity to see directly the impact my work has on students,: Waters said. “In the Dean role I am somewhat removed from that face-to-face connection. On the other hand, I know that the work this division does creates a foundation for student success both while the students are here and in the future. I would say I like that larger impact I have been able to have on our students’ success.”

The forum attendees seemed to like Kozac, who had a warm and friendly manner. Kozac chose to stand in front of the stage, at eye level with the audience.

“He seems very personable, a good cultural fit for the college and a good mediator.” Kelly Lawrence, CCC Department Administrative Coordinator said.

Kozac said he plans on being an advocate for cultural competency on campus.

“I have heard a lot about the culture prior to coming here and it’s only been confirmed with my experience on campus these last couple of days.” Kozac said. “This is a place that believes in inclusive processes, it believes in empowering people to do really high quality work. I feel like I would be among peers given the chance to join you.”

ASG President Jairo Rodriguez said cultural competence in the context of a student body means the acknowledgment of your bodies population and action toward accommodating that.

“Cultural diversity is what you can see,” Rodriguez said. “Cultural competence is taking the acknowledgment of differences and understanding how you can bring it into what you are doing in your daily life.”

With new changes and new faces coming this year, priority remains on the success of each student, including quality of classes and material.

“Effective curriculum focuses on students- their needs and goals,” Waters said. “When a curriculum is effective, it not only results in students achieving their career goals, but it also provides knowledge and skills that serve the student and society in the future.”

Waters said he appreciated his time at CCC.

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work with these extraordinary professionals for the past three years,” Waters said. “The folks in Curriculum, Planning, and Research work hard and do awesome work that improves student success every day.”