By Bro. Eden Douglas
Vice President of Boulder County Campus of Front Range Community College
Dr. Elena Sandoval-Lucero is the vice president of the Boulder County Campus of Front Range Community College (FRCC). She serves as CEO of the campus, and represents the campus, and the college throughout Boulder County. Dr. Sandoval-Lucero has 30 years of experience in academic and student affairs settings in higher education. She has led strategic planning efforts and developed enrolment management plans at multiple institutions. Dr. Sandoval-Lucero earned her Bachelors’ degree in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. She earned Masters’ degrees in Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development from University of Colorado Denver, and Psychology from American Public University. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado Denver. She teaches in the higher education program at the University of Denver, and has presented, researched, and written about the field of higher education.
Higher Education faces a great deal challenges and opportunities, here in New Mexico, and across the country. As you think about CNM’s future specifically, how would you describe its most significant challenges as well as its greatest opportunities?
Community colleges in general, don’t do a good job of telling their stories. In order to remedy this, we have to decide what our story is, then create an elevator speech (one that can be told in two to three minutes, in the time it takes in a normal elevator ride); here’s who we are, what our values are, and why we’re positioned this way in the community. Next, establish relationships beyond the Community College with the out-laying community. On the subject of resources, we have to ask a different question instead of how do we find students, ask how do we get students to come to us. You have to discover what students you’ve lost and work to bring that neglected group back into the fold. If they’re your more mature students, heads of households, we have go to their jobs and see if we can work on solutions that give employers incentives to allow their workers to return to school. Because I come from a Financial Aid background, I know that the number one issue of reenrolment is financial, but if we can relieve some of that burden, we can improve that application to enrolment process. Another issue to resolve is to make sure it’s convenient, schedule-wise, for students to follow simple maps to graduation because of where and how classes are scheduled (reduce conflicts).
What are you going to do make our Applied Technologies, better?
All decisions should be about what’s best for the student. There are areas where the interests of the students overlap between departments and we need to explore and exploit those intersections.
What are your ideas and philosophies on how technology can affect enrolment and the student experience?
In Colorado, our campuses are truly spread out, nearly 40 minutes apart in some cases, so it was inefficient to try and drive to those campuses on a regular basis. Instead we put a poly-conference center on all the campuses, that intra-connected those campuses. The upside was it allowed the administration to be more present on all of their separate campuses because of the less travel. Ultimately, we need to make sure our technology infrastructure stays current and that it’s maintained and make that a line budget item.
With Adjunct Faculty at CNM representing nearly 70% of total faculty, what is your relationship to this group at your present college? What do you see as the role of adjunct faculty and what is your direction or vision for them in your administration?
I’m a big proponent of professional development. For the first two years of a new hire, it’s all about them creating a style that works for them and in the third year, there’s an assessment that allows them to shore up the areas that are exposed as weaknesses.