The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

January 23, 2013

New River presidential candidate shares views

LEWISBURG — As one of two finalists for the presidency of New River Community and Technical College, Dr. Debra Teachman shared her views during a well-attended public forum on the Greenbrier Valley campus Tuesday morning.

Currently the vice president for academic affairs at New Mexico State University at Alamogordo, the coal miner’s granddaughter read the audience well, emphasizing her connections to West Virginia, and proclaiming, “I’m not a city girl.”

Beyond her grandparents’ roots in the Appalachian region, Teachman spoke of her five-year stint as an assistant professor in English at Marshall University in the 1990s, noting, “I really feel that I’ve got West Virginia in my blood.”

She assured the 50-plus people who braved frigid temperatures to attend the forum that she does not see New River as a stepping stone to a bigger, better job, but rather as a destination.

“I’m not somebody who comes and goes,” she said.

Teachman said that experience has taught her the importance of maintaining transparency in a college’s budget and not “hiding away” with a select group of administrators to make decisions. She said she believes in conferring with “the people who are really in the trenches” at the school — faculty, staff and students.

“I’m not a micro-manager,” she said.

Asked how she would increase New River’s enrollment, Teachman spoke of increasing the college’s “visibility” in the community, explaining that includes “not just telling people that we exist, but telling them what we are doing.” Greater involvement in the communities surrounding each of the college’s five campuses also would factor into the strategy of raising the school’s profile, she noted.

Teachman expanded upon that idea in answering a separate question about how she would meet the challenges of overseeing five campuses, each with its own style and culture.

She said she would treat each campus fairly but with an understanding that each is unique. Although she said her five-year plan would include ensuring New River is a “united multiple-campus college,” she does not want to “homogenize” the campuses.

In order to learn the culture, challenges and opportunities at each campus, Teachman said she would meet with community stakeholders to “find out what they think of New River, what we can do for them and what they can do for us.”

She said visiting every campus on a regular basis is an important tenet of her management style.

“I have to know what’s going on,” Teachman said, explaining that she believes more can be gleaned from a personal visit, during which she can get to know people and get a feel for the campus and its surroundings.

“I think I could do a very good job leading this institution,” she summed up.

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Teachman and fellow presidential finalist Dr. L. Marshall Washington are participating this week in a series of public forums open to faculty, administrators, staff, students and the public.

Teachman also visited New River’s Mercer County campus in Princeton and the Advanced Technology Center in Ghent Tuesday. Today, she is scheduled to participate in forums at the Nicholas County campus (9:15 to 10:15 a.m. in the Student Commons) and the Beckley campus (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room C-9).

Washington, who is vice president of the Lancaster campus of Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania, is scheduled to take part in forums Thursday at the Greenbrier Valley campus (10:45 to 11:45 a.m. in Hollowell Auditorium), Mercer County campus (1:45 to 2:45 p.m. in classroom 205) and Advanced Technology Center (3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in room T302).

Friday, Washington is slated to participate in forums at the Nicholas County campus (9:15 to 10:15 a.m. in the Student Commons) and the Beckley campus (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room C-9).

People attending the forums are invited to complete candidate comment forms on which they can list their impressions of the presidential candidates’ professional strengths and weaknesses. Those comment forms will be given to New River’s board of governors for use in the selection process.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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