Barbara Buchanan, PhD, a proven leader who is committed to workforce development and academic excellence, has joined the administration as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Truckee Meadows Community College.
She comes to TMCC from the Lone Star state, where she earned her doctorate at Texas A & M University, a college with more than 50,000 students.
Following her formal education, career and technical education (CTE) has been an important topic for Dr. Buchanan. She served on two area workforce development boards simultaneously in Texas, working on regional economic development efforts to meet business and industry needs for a trained workforce.
At the state level, Buchanan was on the board of directors for the Texas Association of College Technical Educators (TACTE) and served as an elected officer and member of the board of directors for the Texas Administrators of Continuing Education (TACE). In both of these organizations, Buchanan and the other board members led efforts to meet workforce and technical training demands in the growing Texas economy, she said.
Implementing initiatives for greater student success is also of importance to Dr. Buchanan.
“I had an opportunity to take a leadership role in developing and implementing a new developmental education pilot project to help students be better prepared for college-level coursework,” Buchanan said. “Part of the project was to create fast-track pathways so students could move to credit bearing courses sooner. Research shows greater retention rates for underprepared students who are not asked to attend multiple levels of developmental studies. We want students to reach their educational goals as quickly as possible.”
The demonstration project led by Buchanan has been extended to other colleges in Texas.
Nevada’s beauty and progressive ideas attracted Buchanan to the Silver State
“This is a beautiful state with progressive ideas,” Dr. Buchanan said. “We are in a great position to become national leaders in workforce development with our career and technical training programs. We will meet local business and industry needs, setting examples for other colleges to follow. This is an exciting time to work in the Nevada System of Higher Education. We have so many opportunities in front of us.”
She also said that the collaboration between colleges in the system was notable and strengthens the state’s economic development efforts.
Dr. Buchanan said the needs of higher education in Nevada are not unlike the needs she saw for students of Texas’ colleges.
“We need to put students first, at the forefront of everything we do – that is consistent across the U.S.,” she said. “Student success has to be our focus. Success may mean a student gains a certificate and enters the workplace. For others, they define success as completing an associate degree and transferring to one of our four-year institutions. Of course, with our recent approvals, they may stay with us to complete a B.A.S. degree.”
It is essential to build career ladders so students can continue their education and have upward mobility in their career paths, Buchanan said. Everything the college does should make student success as seamless as possible.
“Part of our job is to remove and not create barriers,” she said. “When students have the tools they need to be successful, employers have the workforce they need. TMCC has a fabulous and outstanding group of faculty members. I see my job as one where I make sure they have what they need to help students succeed.”
Communication between schools and colleges makes education seamless for students
“We must reach out to our high schools and other postsecondary institutions to ensure we are creating seamless transitions,” Dr. Buchanan said. “And we want to meet with our local business and industry leaders to ensure we are meeting their workforce development needs.”
She said that it is also important to reach out to industry.
“We attract businesses when we have strong training and educational components to meet their specific needs as they build their workforce,” Buchanan said. “Certainly, Jim New and our entire administrative team with support from Dr. Sheehan have done an outstanding job working with local business and industry.”
The TMCC community has offered warm hospitality, she said.
“Everyone has welcomed me and made me feel at home in a new state,” Buchanan said. “I’m so excited about the possibilities in front of us. TMCC is a great college with so much energy and potential.”
She added, “I have even learned to pronounce Nevada correctly.”
For more information, contact the VPAA office at 775-673-7090.