By Stevi Breshears:
The 2017-18 school year is starting off with a few administrative changes. Over the summer, college officials made several changes to existing positions and added an additional vice president’s position.
Dr. Tamara Clunis has served as the interim vice president of academic affairs since December 2016, but the title was officially given to her in June. As the first African-American woman to hold the position in the history of the college, Clunis has big plans for the year.
“I intend for our division to focus on learning. We want students to be successful and build strong relationships with their instructors,” Clunis said. “It’s really important that we transform what’s going on in the classroom.”
As the vice president of academic affairs (sometimes referred to as the chief academic officer), Clunis is in charge of all the academic programs and maintaining AC’s accreditation. This is especially important, because without accreditation, the college loses financial aid and the degrees awarded to students aren’t as valid.
Additionally, a new vice president of student affairs has been named. Denese Skinner, who is currently the director for career services at West Texas A&M University, will take over the position on Sept. 5.
“This reorganization of Student Affairs is a strategic move to help the college better support our students in their mission to graduate or transfer from Amarillo College. This division will support our students by enhancing the overall student experience, assisting in identifying educational and career goals and foster a student-centered culture on the Amarillo College campus,” AC President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart said in a news release.
Skinner, who began her pursuit of higher education at Amarillo College, said she is excited to be returning.
“The things happening at AC, in terms of helping students find success are incredible,” said Skinner. “I have been thoroughly impressed by the accomplishments of everyone at the college and how they all step-up to help students succeed. I am excited to become a member of the team that will further student success and completion.”
In addition to the new vice presidents, Frank Sobey was named the associate vice president of academic affairs; Bob Austin was named the vice president of enrollment management; Carol Buse was named the dean of STEM; Victoria Taylor-Gore was named the dean of liberal arts and Jill Gibson was named associate dean of liberal arts.
Clunis said that while each department has different individual goals, student success is still the top priority.
“If students aren’t learning and completing, we aren’t doing our job,” she said.