Dean of academic success candidate wants to turn students into leaders

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Dr. Sobia Khan, English professor at Richland College, speaks about her academic journey and experience with community colleges at an open forum July 11 in visual arts. Khan is one of four candidates being considered for the new position as Dean of Academic Success. Dr. Mary Dixson, Dr. Barbara Knotts and Dr. Abel Gonzales are the other candidates.  V. Finster

Candidate recounted her struggle to balance academic pursuits and family.

By Austin P. Taylor

During the first open forum for the dean of academic success position July 11 in Room 120 of the visual arts center, Mona Aldana-Ramirez, director of student retention services, asked Dr. Sobia Khan how she will use her experiences to fulfill the obligations of this new position.

Khan said she needs to understand the culture of this college and hear the expectations that would be placed on her by the administration and faculty.

She also said to fulfill the goals of the position, she wants to make full use of this college’s support services.

“The vision is to support academic success through all the multiple support and educational services and to move the needle on student success,” she said.

To begin, Khan said this college needs to get students on academic pathways and streamline its support services to better serve the student population.

Khan said her long-term goal is to make sure students leave this college with the skills needed to enter the workforce.

She said when she started college, she was not thinking about how to advance her career options.

“I wish I had worked with an adviser. I wish I had thought about my future as an employable person,” Khan said. She said had she not received a full-ride scholarship before entering graduate school, she would have had to focus on working part-time jobs, instead of pursuing a teaching certification.

Because of this experience, Khan said she wants to get students into an academic pathway as quickly as possible, so they can avoid landing in a situation like hers.

Khan said she wants to make the dean of academic success position a dependable and long-lasting office of this college.

“If I take on this job, I’m going to be just as invested in its longevity as anyone else is,” she said. “I don’t want this to be a passing phase … I want this to be a useful position.”

Khan has been working as the coordinator of the English dual credit program at Richland College since 2016.

Administrative assistant Rose Gonzales asked Khan to discuss the training dual credit faculty have undergone while she has worked as director.

“My training approach when I started this role was getting to know everybody. Really getting everyone onboard with the vision I had,” Khan said. “The vision was we all want to be on the same program to help our students succeed, with academic freedom.”

To do this, Khan said she scheduled individual meetings with every faculty member in the program. Khan said this informed her on what a dual-credit and advanced placement course should look like.

As an educator, Khan has dedicated much of her career to helping “under-resourced students.” These students either come from lower income backgrounds or are from underrepresented ethnic groups.

Khan said when she started teaching, she sought to make an impact on faculty development.

“I fell into management because I was OK with taking on leadership roles,” she said. “I think all of us are leaders, but I was willing to stick my neck out there.”

Dr. Sobia Khan, English professor at Richland College, is one of four finalists being considered for the new position as Dean of Academic Success July 11 in visual arts. V. Finster

Khan has worked as full-time English faculty at Richland College since 2011 and is the coordinator for the English dual credit program at Richland.

Khan has spent the last year working as the director of the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander grant at Richland College.

Khan was born in Plymouth, England, and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, with her family.

Khan moved to the United States with her husband when she was 18.

She decided to pursue higher education after watching several friends advance in their academic careers. She spent 10 years as an undergraduate student, trying to maintain a balance between advancing in school and taking care of her family.

Khan earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2006, as well as master’s degree in 2008 and her doctorate in 2014.

Khan was the first of four candidates to be interviewed for the dean of academic success position. Her full bio and résumé, along with a recording of the open forum, can be found at

Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education, is leading the search committee. She can be reached at 210-486-0920 or

The dean of academic success position will report to Dr. Jothany Blackwood, vice president for academic success at this college. She can be reached at 210-486-0950 or

This college’s executive team will announce the chosen candidate next week.


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