NORTH MANKATO — Since taking over in July as president of South Central College, Annette Parker has had to make some tough, but necessary changes, she said.
Departments have been restructured, positions merged and employees reassigned to other jobs, among other things.
“It's always difficult. But if you always keep the student in mind; that's the role of a community college leader, I think,” Parker said.
For employee-privacy purposes, Parker said she wouldn't comment on specific employee reassignments, and she said she couldn't put a number on the positions that have been affected. But she said the college is nearing the end of its restructuring process and is focusing on carving out a strategic plan that Parker soon will share with the public.
“We've made changes in how we want to look at continuous improvement and how we want to bring departments together and how we want to work toward student success,” she said.
One of the departmental changes Parker made was to put Student Affairs and Academic Affairs under one umbrella, which meant merging positions into the new position of vice president of academic and student affairs.
Parker wouldn't confirm specific reassignments, but W.C. Sanders, the former dean of academic affairs, recently received the title of special projects manager of academics. Parker said the position was newly created because there weren't department chairs in place campuswide, and that was a change she believed was necessary to better serve students.
Suzanne L. Nordblom, who formerly held the position of dean of academic affairs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, known as STEM, now holds the same title as Sanders. According to human resources, their current job descriptions state in part that Sanders and Nordblom will be responsible for the procedures, resources and training plans associated with preparing new department chairs for their roles.
Sanders, who has worked at the college 16 years, couldn't be reached for comment. Nordblom declined to comment. She has been at the campus eight years.
Nancy Genelin, the former vice president of academic affairs, has been assigned to the new position of nursing program accreditation specialist. The college is working toward reapplying for national accreditation after falling short several points in 2012 on its first attempt. Genelin has a nursing background.
“We think that's important. Minnesota has a national reputation to maintain as a leader in health care,” Parker said. “Our main goal is to get that accreditation.”
In Genelin's current position, she is “responsible and accountable for providing leadership (and) guidance and developing a nursing compliance program that will help South Central with developing an accredited, successful and sustainable nursing program,” according to human resources. She has been at SCC for 19 years.
Parker declined to comment on whether the positions were temporary reassignments.
Another big change is the merger of workforce education and training under one umbrella, for which the college has launched a dean search. The focus will be on career and technical education; workforce development needs of students, SCC and the community; and developing partnerships with business, industry and government entities.
“We're reorganizing to be more efficient, more effective,” Parker said. “We're removing positions and creating new positions so we can be more effective and more focused on student success.”
Parker said with the positions being created from realignment, anyone can apply when they are posted, including people who have been reassigned to other jobs at the college.
The same is happening on the Faribault campus, Parker said, with some shifting of positions going on between campuses to ensure equity of resources and opportunities.
Parker said she began her tenure by listening to the goals of faculty, staff, students and community members at both campuses in North Mankato and Faribault. And the changes are a direct reflection of what she heard, she said.
“We're in a good position now to grow,” she said.
History instructor Jay Wendelberger, who has been at the college seven years, said Parker was interested in hearing his and other faculty feedback about SCC and his vision for the college. (Wendelberger declined to disclose the feedback he shared with Parker.)
“I had a lot of things to tell her, she listened, she paid attention, and from my perspective, I think she's a dynamic, exciting leader … ,” Wendelberger said. “Overall, I think Dr. Parker has a vision, she's enacting that vision, and I think that's exciting. I think most of the faculty think that's exciting.”
Numerous other emails and phone calls to faculty at SCC were not returned, or the employees declined to comment.