Ron Anderson's commute got a tad shorter, but his list of responsibilities at Century College got exponentially longer when he became president of the fast-growing community college in White Bear Lake.
Anderson had been the vice president of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at the two-year school, but he parks a bit closer to the front door now that he has taken over the top job on campus, succeeding Larry Litecky, who retired on June 30.
We caught up to Anderson, 48, just days after he moved into his new office.
QWhy did you want to become president of the state's largest community college?
AI've been in higher education for 22 years and I've had the opportunity to work across all the different divisions of the college. I came to Century as the CFO in 2006, and had been vice provost and vice president at Capella University and head of academic affairs and student affairs at MCTC [Minneapolis Community and Technical College]. I had done the whole breadth of things and had been thinking that someday I am going to be a president. Coming to Century five years ago I had that in the back of my mind.
I've been at three institutions and led the process of doing mission, vision and values revisions, and this is the first place where the language we ended up with was meaningful to me. This represents who we are, and represents why I want to be here. There were three openings [for presidents] in the metro area this year, but Century is the only one I applied for. I wasn't looking to leave a college that was the right fit.
QWhy will you be a good president?
AWith my unique background as CFO, student affairs and chief academic officer, I understand different divisions of the college. I believe I understand how decisions made in one area impact the other. As I look at the issues we are facing, I think I have the ability to ask the right questions. I work well with a wide variety of people, and I know everybody's role matters.
QCan we expect to see any immediate changes at Century?
AThe beautiful part about coming in as an internal is that I've been involved with President Litecky in setting the agenda and creating a strong shared vision of leadership across the college, including the faculty and staff, of where we are going, and we are continuing that. We are not changing that. We are focusing on how we do our work, how that impacts student success and how we improve student success.
QWhat are a couple of your goals and initiatives?
ATo increase student success at the course level, make sure students are retained from one term to the next, and that they get their desired outcome -- a certificate, degree or diploma, or completing certain courses. Also, I'm excited about our growing relationship with our K-12 partners to look at the four years of high school, not just the last year, to ensure students are prepared for college.
QYou've said you are committed to extending access to higher education to all and making sure students at Century succeed. How do you plan on doing that?
ALast year we kicked off our Bridge to Success program. That is focusing on new entering students and how you give them extra support and that is what we are looking at scaling up. We also have faculty working in an intensive advising role.
We've also expanded our learning communities, in which students take two classes from two instructors who are coordinating and have crossover assignments. That has been shown nationally to help keep students engaged. We also are looking to expand tutoring in our typical freshman courses such as composition, math, psychology and economics.
QWhat do you most look forward to in your new role?
AI am looking forward to developing contacts with business leaders and those in the public sector. I'm also looking for ways for Century to expand service to the community, grow our roots in the northeast community. We are a college of the community.
Tim Harlow • 651-735-1824 Twitter: @timstrib