Candidate wants to enhance relationship between students and faculty and help veterans.
By Austin P. Taylor
At an open forum during the interview process for the dean of student success position, Dr. Tiffany Cox Hernandez was asked her opinion on the Alamo Institutes initiative by multimedia Professor Bruce Davis.
Hernandez said she believes in the utility of the Alamo Institutes initiative and it would inform students about the classes they need to take and ensure they’ll avoid as much debt as possible.
“I was an early adopter of the Institutes/Pathways … I fully support it,” Hernandez said.
She said the Institutes program will be fully implemented by fall 2018.
“We’re getting there. It’s going to be clunky and messy, and we’re just going to keep revising it, and improving it, and tweaking it and making it cleaner year after year,” she said. “The people who are going to benefit from this hard work are students.”
Hernandez, chair of the public policy and service department, stood before about 25 students and faculty Nov. 10 in the visual arts center.
Hernandez served as a prosecuting attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney’s office in Arizona. Hernandez earned a doctorate in criminal justice from Texas State University. She joined the Alamo Colleges in 2009 as part of the criminal justice program at this college.
Hernandez served as the interim department chair for the language, philosophy and culture department. She has also served in leadership positions at the district level, including serving as the chair of the District Council of Chairs.
“It may seem a little unusual that someone from the academic background would want to apply for a student success position, but I really, after putting a lot of thought into it and looking at my experiences here, I don’t think there’s a difference from student’s perspective,” Hernandez said. “We are all there to help our students succeed, in whatever role we play.”
Hernandez believes faculty are constantly interacting with students, and need to be able to meet the needs of students, even with matters that don’t fit into their job description.
Government Professor Wanda-Lee Smith asked Hernandez what she would want from faculty at this college.
“For most students, faculty are potentially the first place they go to ask a question,” Hernandez said. “I (the students) see you every other day. I’m in your class all semester long. As things come up in my life, I go to you to ask questions.”
Liberal arts sophomore Miguel Alcorn asked Hernandez what her goal for this position is and how she intends to reach that goal.
“I think the mission of every single person working at this college is to get students to the classroom in the shape they need to be to learn,” Hernandez said. “What that means is not having processes in place that exhaust students.”
Hernandez said this job would allow her to work collaboratively with the branches of this college that handle student morale and ensure students reach the classroom ready to learn.
Hernandez wants the faculty of this college to become experts in the affairs of this college. She believes the faculty should be able to point students in the right direction, no matter what the situation might be.
David Macias, the coordinator for the veteran’s affairs office, asked Hernandez how she would advocate for student veterans and ensure the college didn’t take measures that might inadvertently harm the veteran population.
Hernandez began by explaining she wants instructors to “have a conversation” with student veterans before they decide to drop them from a course. She knows that many veterans receive benefits from the VA dependent on the credit hours they are taking; she wants instructors to be informed on the issues faced by student veterans.
If a student receiving benefits from the VA is dropped from a class by their instructor, they can be charged for the education benefits that have been paid for that term.
Hernandez wants to create a clear system of communication to allow student veterans to access resources like VA, department chairs and the deans if they are at risk of losing their benefits.
Hernandez was the second candidate to appear in a series of forums for the dean of student success position. The other candidate was Dr. Renee Thurston Moore, the dean of judicial affairs at the University of the Incarnate Word.
A third candidate, Annette Hackbarth-Onson, withdrew from the pool of candidates. No reason was given.
This is the third attempt at hiring a dean of student success. Two previous searches ended without hire.
The executive team of this college hopes to present a final candidate to the board of trustees at the Dec 12 meeting at the Killen center.
For more information, call Dr. Lisa Alcorta at 210-486-0930.