MCC hosts ‘The Juncture,’ a symposium for women in higher education

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About 100 women took part in MCC’s The Juncture symposium Oct. 16.

The definition of juncture is a joint or connection between two things. This idea was the theme behind a program designed to give women employed at Metropolitan Community College a chance to focus on professional development, fellowship and networking opportunities within higher education.

The Oct. 16 symposium also addressed the needs of changing demographics among college students and diverse communities by having discussions on professional growth and networking.

About 100 women participated in the interactive program that explored best practices to develop career plans, provided connection with fellow colleagues, and afforded debate surrounding tools to strengthen professional growth. Women talked about family values, ethics, spirituality, success, experience, mentoring and networking all while honoring women of higher education’s different journeys and paths. Participants were able to discuss professional knowledge, skills and attitudes expected in higher education.

Women who have served in higher education for decades were also able to share personal insight into navigating between personal and professional roles and responsibilities. The event highlighted two women as keynote speakers: Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace and Dr. Tammara Durham.

Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace

Burns-Wallace is associate vice provost of undergraduate studies at the the University of Missouri, where she focuses on student persistence, completion and overall student success for all students.

Burns-Wallace also holds a faculty appointment through the College of Education’s Education Leadership and Policy Analysis division. Previous positions at Mizzou include assistant vice provost for enrollment management and director of access initiatives.  For the 2013-14 academic year, she was selected as an American Council on Education Fellow, working directly with presidents and other senior leaders, observing how the institution and its leaders address strategic planning, resource allocation, development, policy, and other issues and challenges. Prior to joining Mizzou, Burns-Wallace held the position of assistant dean in the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University.

She has also served as a foreign service officer (FSO) with the U.S. Department of State. She has lived and worked in Guangzhou and Beijing, China; Pretoria, South Africa; and in Washington, D.C. In her capacity as an FSO, she held numerous positions including management officer, non-immigrant visa officer, press attaché, and special assistant on legislative affairs. She was also trained in two languages, French and Mandarin Chinese.

She has served on several highly competitive selection committees including the State Department’s Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship and the Gates Millennium Scholars program, as well as serving on the selection and interview committees for the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and/or Truman interview committees at Stanford University and Mizzou and on the Fulbright Commission for the State Department while serving in South Africa.

Burns-Wallace holds a dual bachelor’s degree in international relations and African American studies from Stanford University, a master’s in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focused on issues of access and success for students of color and low-income students throughout higher education as well as equity-minded leadership. She is originally from Kansas City.

With her extensive background, Burns-Wallace pointed to statistics related to women and women of color in higher education. She recognized that over the last 10 years, more women are serving in higher education leadership positions, but to better reflect the student population there is still room for more strides in this arena.

Burns-Wallace discussed how to work, push, balance and succeed. She highlighted integrity and work ethic as pillars to strive for. She encouraged women to be strong and brave and to continue to develop tools to help expand the conversation surrounding education on the national level to include diversity on all levels.

Dr. Tammara Durham

Dr. Tammara Durham also addressed the women. She joined KU in 1998 as assistant director of the Freshman-Sophomore Advising Center. She served as director of the University Advising Center from 2004 to 2011. Durham was named vice provost for student affairs at the University of Kansas in May 2012 after serving as interim vice provost since September 2011. Prior to that, she served as associate vice provost for Student Success since January 2011.

As the vice provost for student affairs, Durham is the senior student affairs officer for the main campus in Lawrence and is responsible for student life, support and leadership programs, student auxiliary services and student-supported wellness programs. The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs coordinates and develops student support services and programs and serves as an advocate for student needs across the university community that contribute to overall academic success.

Durham received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwest Missouri State University and her doctorate from the University of Kansas in higher education administration.

She shared personal insights regarding how to address different audiences and showcase your best self in varied situations. She discussed how to earn respect and a seat at the table during important discussions. She talked about supporting colleagues and using different backgrounds and experience to provide necessary perspectives in higher education decisions.

She touched upon developing strategies for immediate areas of growth as well as those anticipated and desired future career trajectories. She offered approaches to lead organizational strategies that address ongoing changes in the cultural landscape, political landscape, global perspectives and how to lead effectively in changing institutional landscape.

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Dr. Kathrine Swanson

MCC women who participated in discussions included Shelley Kneuvean, vice chancellor for finance and administration; Kathrine Swanson, vice chancellor of student success; Kathy Walter-Mack, chief of staff; Christina McGee, director of employee relations; Deah Robinson, counselor; Tarana Chapple, ‎associate dean of instruction; Stephanie Zerkel, English instructor; Karen Curls, criminal justice instructor; Mindy McCallum, dean of instruction; Cheryl Winter, mathematics instructor; Dachia Scroggins, counselor; Kim Fernandes, director of disability services; Victoria Howell, counselor; Yvette Sweeney, dean of student development; Rene Bennett, associate dean; Melinda Johnson, associate dean; Karen Moore, dean of student development; and Jessica Halperin, sociology instructor.

junctureThe event was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and the initiative was developed by  Kathy Walter-Mack, the MCC chief of staff. Robert N. Page Jr. led the planning and execution of the event, while Jessica Calderon worked as the logistics coordinator.  A 20-member committee made up of both faculty and staff from all five MCC campuses helped to provide the best experience possible. The goal was to offer a day filled with synergy, collaboration and student-focused solutions and to focus on how women can fulfill personal and professional continuous improvement within higher education.