Chancellor Kimberly Beatty shared some of her life story and discussed challenges and opportunities at Metropolitan Community College during a recent Facebook Live show produced by The Kansas City Star.
The “Beer Hour” series is broadcast live from the Boulevard Brewing Co. Tours & Recreation Center. Kansas City Star education reporter Mara’ Rose Williams hosted the Sept. 20 episode that featured Dr. Beatty.
“This is all I know, this is all I’ve done,” Dr. Beatty said when asked if she’s worked in higher education her entire career. “I’ve been in it 30 years — 31 years — but of course I started when I was 5!”
She has lived in the Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Washington, D.C., areas, but she has fallen in love with this city. “Kansas City has everything that a large city has, it’s just less people. And that means less traffic.”
Asked about her favorite KC spots so far, Dr. Beatty mentioned Q39, the barbecue restaurant on 39th Street; happy hours at Cafe Trio; breakfast at Cascone’s Grill in the River Market; Jack Stack Barbecue and Lidia’s in the Crossroads; and JJ’s on the Country Club Plaza.
“I’m still exploring (the city) a lot,” she said.
Kansas City is “wholesome,” she added. “People are nice. … The whole ‘send an email and be done’ or ‘call somebody and be done,’ it doesn’t work here. (People) like to sit down and talk.”
Other tidbits from the conversation:
On the history of junior/community colleges and their mission: “The fabulous thing about community colleges, and why I love to do this work, is they’re nimble. They’re flexible,” Dr. Beatty said. “So if the brewing industry is big here, and they want to start a degree in brewing … we would meet with them to develop a track to meet that industry demand.”
On workforce programs: “Even though the economy is good, most of our industry partners can see that they’ve got a lot of retirees coming and they’re telling me, we don’t have enough people coming in. … At Metropolitan, we have the programming, we have the capacity to meet that demand, but we’ve got to work harder to show how those careers (like machinists and HVAC technicians) are sexy.”
On students taking advantage of Missouri’s A+ scholarship program: “You’d be surprised at the number of students who just don’t see college as an option for them. Now, I’m fairly new to Kansas City, but there are some clear dividers in this city for communities … where resources and the exposure is different in a way, where they might not see that (college) is always an option.”
On her mother, who graduated from college and expected Dr. Beatty to do the same: “My mother had this philosophy, and she modeled it, of standing on your own and having your own. And that inspired me to leave home to go to college. … I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, which is a lot like Kansas City in terms of the divide that can happen between socioeconomic and racial groups.”
On the challenge of having a diverse faculty: “Well, those are great jobs and people don’t leave them. That’s the No. 1 thing. … I taught for 12 years and I just got the administrative bug and itch, but I’m still in the realm of it. So part of it is, we don’t have huge attrition in our field. … So what we’re doing is all that we can do in terms of diversifying where we advertise (positions), making sure that we connect with graduate schools including (historically black colleges and universities) … (and) Native American-based and Hispanic-serving institutions.”
Watch the entire conversation here: