As Woodrow Wilson once said, “The ear of a leader must ring with the voice of the people.”
Dr. Barbara Kavalier’s ears started ringing after stepping into the role of St. Charles Community College president in August 2016. Soon after, she set off on a campus-wide listening tour to learn more about the campus from those most familiar – SCC faculty and staff.
During the President’s Listening Tour, attendees shared thoughts about SCC with Dr. Kavalier in an informal setting. The tour started in September and will run through December.
Dr. Kavalier’s vision for SCC continues to unfold.
“SCC has tremendous potential for innovation and growth,” she said. “My vision is to work in collaboration with all constituency groups to articulate a new way forward. Through the cultivation of a shared vision, I know we can transform SCC into a nationally-recognized institution of higher education that will inspire greatness in our students, our employees and our community.”
She believes in her vision because, she says, the college already demonstrates excellence in a number of areas, including a professional and dedicated faculty and staff, a beautiful campus environment, a cohesive and supportive Board of Trustees, excellent and innovative programs and services, and comprehensive activities for engaging students – to name just a few.
When asked if she has experienced any challenges, Dr. Kavalier said, “Having been with the college for just a few months, I’m still learning about processes and meeting people. I have not seen too many challenges, but we are currently working on a couple of immediate issues – finding a home for our nursing program and strengthening IT.”
For Dr. Kavalier, where some may see challenges, she envisions opportunity.
“The Board of Trustees has authorized the college to pursue the purchase of the Nursing and Allied Health building,” she said. “This will solve the challenge of finding a new home for this valuable program; it also provides an extraordinary opportunity for growth.”
As for IT, she says she is impressed by the feedback received from Information Technology staff members about changes that will improve technology. “An investment in this area will be of great benefit to the college,” she said.
In addition to the listening tour, Dr. Kavalier has been busy getting to know the campus community in other ways.
The campus welcomed its new president during a Aug. 19 reception held in the President’s suite. Faculty and staff came out to meet Dr. Kavalier and her husband, Jim, while spending time with colleagues and enjoying refreshments.
She also took part in the State of the College and spent time outside greeting students on the first day of classes.
“I think she embodies the sort of leadership this campus needs,” said Aaron Proctor, associate professor of English and SCC’s Faculty Association president. “I have some very high hopes for what we will accomplish during her administration.”
Dr. Kavalier was named SCC president following the service of Ron Chesbrough, Ph.D., who accepted the presidency at Cazenovia College in New York early in 2016.
After a four-month nationwide search process, she was selected from a large field of excellent candidates from across the country, said Pamela Cilek, secretary of the Board and chair of the Presidential Search Committee.
“We are thrilled with the results of the presidential search and the selection of Dr. Barbara Kavalier as the college’s next leader,” Cilek said. She said Dr. Kavalier’s years of experience in college leadership and administration and her commitment to student success, academic innovation, community partnerships and the community college mission prepared her well to become SCC’s fourth president.
Dr. Kavalier has more than 30 years as an administrator within the community college system. Prior to coming to St. Charles Community College she served as district president for Navarro College. She has also served as president of San Jose City College in San Jose, Calif., and worked for more than 20 years with the Dallas County Community College District.
In the area of academics, she served as a faculty member for the Ed.D. Program in Higher Education Leadership at San Diego State University, was a Visiting Scholar at The University of Texas at Austin and served for many years as an adjunct faculty with the Dallas County Community College District.
Dr. Kavalier holds a doctorate in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Science degree in business and human relations from Amberton University, a Bachelor of Science degree in education, majoring in English, from Texas Christian University, and an Associate Degree from Mountain View College.
Board President Jean Ehlmann said that in selecting Dr. Kavalier, trustees were impressed with her 35 years of progressive experience in higher education including her work with business and industry, research, strategic planning, technology, accreditation and leadership in academic program development. “The Board is confident she will offer the kind of leadership and inspiration that will help the college achieve its most ambitious goals and further enhance the quality of programs and services for which our college is known.”
“Nothing seems out of the question at this point,” Proctor said. “I hope we are embarking on a period of vitality and growth: new programs, new faculty, new staff and – hopefully – new buildings. Dr. Kavalier has the practical know-how and experience to make such a vision a reality.”