Dr. Robin Garrett holds a Ph.D., but her higher education began with a course at a community college. The third of three candidates seeking the job of vice president of academics at Barton Community College visited the campus Tuesday for a public forum.
Garrett is executive director of Lone Star College in the Greater Houston area. She is responsible for the system-wide continuing education operations of the six-campus Lone Star College System including career and technical education programs and personal enrichment classes serving over 15,000 students each year. She serves on the Texas Workforce Education Leadership Committee and was the chair from 2010-2012, serving workforce education for the state.
“Community colleges are an American institution,” she said Tuesday. “We are what’s called an innovation in higher education. ... We serve the entire area of your population.”
In high school, Garrett didn’t expect to go on to college. But high school classes in typing, shorthand and bookkeeping prepared her for a job in an office. It soon became apparent that she had an aptitude for computers, so she enrolled in a course at a community college. That led to more courses, and a career with a major company. She went from taking computer courses to teaching them, eventually leaving the business world to teach full-time.
Garrett holds a Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences with a concentration in Technology in Education.
“Because of a community college, my (life) changed,” Garrett told Barton faculty and staff. “There are thousands and thousands (like) me every day; what you do can change their lives.”
Dr. Vic Martin, BCC agriculture instructor, asked how she would begin an administrative career at Barton. “What would your first month or two look like?”
It would start with getting to know everyone, she said. “I would really want to spend time getting to know the culture of Barton.” While learning more about the Kansas Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission, she would also be meeting students and attending community events.
Dean of Academics Dr. Richard Abel asked her views on developmental education.
“We want our students to get to the level they need to be,” she said, “and we can’t ignore the population who isn’t prepared. It’s something that we need to do as a community college.”
“What would be one of your biggest challenges?” an audience member asked.
“I know there are very competent people leading these areas,” Garrett said, pausing to think of a possible challenge. “There might be some challenges in the budgeting areas.”
Chuckles were audible from all parts of the room. “Oh, did I touch on something?” she asked.
So, how would she handle tight resources?
“Everyone needs to come to the table,” she said. “We need to be sure that what’s most important gets funded first. It’s a balancing act, and I’ve had to do that for many years.”
The complete forum is available online: http://bartonccc.edu/VPgarrett.