By Dylan Axsom
West Campus Associate Editor
The future looks bright for TCC’s West Campus under Provost Kevin David.
David was born and raised in Queens, N.Y. He was a first generation college student and attended the State University of New York. There he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. Afterwards, he decided to attend the University of Oklahoma for his master’s degree and Ph.D. in developmental psychology.
Once out of school, he became an instructor at the University of Puget Sound in Wash. He and his wife then decided to move back to Oklahoma, where he started teaching at Northeastern State of Oklahoma at the Broken Arrow campus.
David then joined Tulsa Community College in 2011 as the director of Planning and Institutional Research. Before being selected as provost, which is the top administrative spot at a campus, David’s other duty was serving as the associate vice president for Institutional Effectiveness.
David says his passion for helping students arose in college at the University of Oklahoma when he was a teaching assistant in the doctoral program. He says that the experience of working with students and helping them learn and figuring out questions together was what made him take the route he chose.
Now at the West Campus, David does lots of things to help improve the success rates of students. He is currently a part of multiple organizations that aim to make sure students in community colleges complete their degrees and move on to do even bigger things.
One such group is the Higher Learning Commission or HLC. This group is the regional accreditation group for colleges in 19 states. These groups accredit colleges based on several groups of criteria to ensure a quality experience for students.
“Next year,” says David, “we are coming up for our reaffirmation of accreditation. So [HLC will] come and do a site visit here, which happens every ten years.”
David says that the college has to meet certain criteria and present evidence arguing that the school has met those criteria in a paper. He says the HLC does site visits as well, and that “there is usually a team of about seven peer reviewers who come and interview people. They will want to talk with students, faculty, administrators, advisors, things like that.”
David is involved with the HLC on two levels as well. “I am actually an HLC peer reviewer, so I go to colleges and do reviews, but I am also the ALO [for TCC], which is the Accreditation Liaison Officer,” says David.
He says, “it is basically my responsibility to coordinate the work to document that we are doing what we are supposed to do. And I love that work because I get to learn about all the great stuff that [the college] is doing.”
David says that being accredited with the HLC is very important because “if you are not regionally accredited, your students cannot get federal financial aid.” He adds that “a lot of colleges and universities will not transfer our [student’s] credit hours if we are not accredited.”
Aside from these roles, David is also an accredited man himself, exemplified by his selection for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship Award.
Aspen is an organization that wants to raise community college standards across the board, and want to do so by helping form tomorrow’s collegiate leaders. In collaboration with the Stanford Education Leadership Initiative, Aspen takes nominees from administrative positions in community colleges, and selects 40 of them nationwide to partake in a year-long fellowship.
During this journey, the 40 members attend three one-week conferences over a period of one year. Members trade ideas and learn strategies to use should he or she become a college president in the future.
David says that he was taken aback by the opportunity that Aspen presented to him. He said, “I was a kid goofing around in my junior and senior years and now here I am, one of 40 people [selected] nationally. I feel humbled by that.”
Part of David being chosen, according to the Aspen website, was the work he has done with donors and legislators.
David says that Oklahoma State Representative Jadine Nollan is in close contact with TCC and is a huge proponent of concurrent enrollment. He and TCC also work diligently with the George Kaiser Family Foundation to help improve the experience for students at the college.
Another organization that TCC is involved with is the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and more specifically a program by them called the Pathways Project.
The AACC selected 30 institutions nationwide in the fall of 2015 to participate in this project. Pathways is a program that helps fine-tune the degree-earning experience for college students. They collaborate with TCC and interconnect with the College’s Strategic Plan, which sets goals for a five-to fifteen-year period.
One of the goals for the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan include improving the student-to-advisor ratio, which has improved already from 1,044 students per one advisor down to around 500 students per advisor. The target number to have by 2020 is 300 students per advisor, or even lower.
Another goal for improvement in the college is improving the number of full-time faculty of color compared to the national number.
Despite the program being implemented in November 2016, some numbers are already up to standards. One example is that the ratio of full-time staff employees of color to the regional population value is .98 to 1, meaning that students are more likely to see somebody working at the college that looks like them or represents their culture. This improvement, David says, is crucial to the success of students.
“We are really pushing to reflect the society we live in,” says the former psychology professor. “A lot of times when you look at it, traditionally underrepresented minority students such as Hispanic, African-American, and Native American students preform lower than white students and even Asian students in graduation rates. Part of that, and there is lots of research on this, has to do with the fact that those students do not feel connected to the college because they do not see a lot of people who look like them.”
On another note, Pathways has helped introduce what are called Degree Maps. These lay out what classes a student will need to take for a degree, and when to take them. David says that he hopes that this, along with the Strategic Enrollment Plan for the West Campus, will help bring in more students to West so that it can continue to grow. David says that West has already seen a “five percent increase of credit hours,” meaning that more students are on campus and are enrolling in more classes at West.
David expresses that the changes he has seen are very encouraging, and the West Campus looks busier than ever. In part with that, he says he wants to make himself more available to students and staff alike.
David says that during the first Tuesday of every month from 3:30p.m.-4:30 p.m., as well as the second Wednesday of every month from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., he will be hanging out in the Fireplace Lounge by the Student Union for a chance to chat with everyone and get to know students better. And as always, he is available by email at email@example.com.