MCC-Longview President Dr. Kirk Nooks joined a national conversation about youthful community college presidents and chancellors. Nooks, part of Generation X, was one of four officials interviewed in a recent article in Community College Daily, an online publication of the American Association of Community Colleges.
Nooks talked about his sense of urgency.
Being in Generation X “gives me a different frame of reference,” says Kirk Nooks, 41, who’s wrapping up his third year as president of Metropolitan Community College-Longview in Kansas City. “It allows me to be closer to the traditional student population, and I have a better understanding of technology and social media.”
Nooks also believes he has “a different level of urgency” with regard to the evolving mission of community colleges. Presidents in the Baby Boomer generation view community colleges within the framework of access. “My level of urgency is to understand the success piece,” he says.
He also emphasizes community colleges’ challenge of performance funding. Nooks feels an urgency to get it right, as it is a key issue in Missouri, where funding is based on such factors as transfers, degrees and job placement, rather than headcount.
A new frame for constant challenges
“There isn’t anything new under the sun,” Nooks says. “Even when older colleagues were new to the job, they tried things that had been tried before. There was a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in the past.”
“The idea might be the same but the context is different,” he continues. For example, when the older generation started, they weren’t operating with the technology, social media or concept of global competition that forms the backdrop for Gen-X leaders.
When information is instantaneous, Nooks says, “the president no longer controls the narrative.” In the case of a shooting on campus or a scandal, for example, people expect to get the information immediately and use social media to spread their own comments on the situation.
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