Featured Faculty Profile
Dean - DeVry University Dallas
Administrative fields: Computer Information Systems (CIS), Game & Simulation Programming (GSP), Network & Communications Management (NCM), and Network Systems Administration (NSA)
"The other thing that really sold me was talking with DeVry graduates and a Career Services advisor. I was very impressed. It became clear that DeVry cared about what happened to you while you were in school and afterwards. That's what I was looking for."
Where I come from
I have been a student, teacher, and now an administrator at DeVry University Dallas. I came here for a bachelor's degree in CIS at age 43. I had been in sales, using computers, but I thought of computer science as a young person's field. I had many fears around that, but they were quickly dispelled. I got a job before I even graduated, a job I enjoyed. A few years later, my database professor at DeVry University called and invited me to teach for a semester, filling in for someone on sabbatical.
When I went back to my employer to submit my resignation, my manager made me a counter-offer of part-time consulting. So for seven-plus years, I had the best of both worlds. My work in the industry carried over into the classroom, and I loved teaching. Then the company I worked for down-sized and stopped using consultants. At the same time, my mother became ill so I took the extra time to help her. The Dean's position came open, and I was appointed to fill it in summer 2007. I still teach online; once my new duties as a dean become more familiar, I will teach again on weekends or at night. I bargained for that.
Why I chose DeVry University
When I started thinking of a career change, I compared universities. I could see that DeVry University took a much different approach - more hands-on, more involved in the field. The other thing that really sold me was talking with DeVry University graduates and a Career Services advisor. I was very impressed. It became clear that DeVry University cared about what happened to you while you were in school and afterwards. That's what I was looking for.
For example, I used to talk with my psychology professor, Barbara Kirksey, for hours outside of class. She was good at bringing in examples that made you think. When I was made dean, she came up to me laughing and said, "You're doing everything that I thought you were going to do." My CIS professor, Rosemary Rector, was the one who called me with that first teaching assignment. She recognized my interests early on and gave me extra database projects to challenge me.
As a student, I benefited from smaller class sizes and closer relationships with the faculty. Some of my friends in technology went to "big box" colleges, going to lectures with 250 other students, with little access to hands-on practice.
From a faculty standpoint, there is a lot more to teaching than showing up in the classroom. My colleagues and I care for the personal well-being of students and help them find jobs or solve problems. I used to go to the Dean to talk about how to help particular students, and now that I'm a dean, my faculty members come to me for the same reason.
The most gratifying thing is having students come back after graduation and tell me about their successes, especially students that were really struggling at the beginning. Seeing them grow up, mature, get a job, move into the world the way we told them they could, is incredibly gratifying. I really enjoyed directing senior projects. We solicit project work - real-world work for a business or organization. It's neat to see the graduating seniors get job offers out of this. Some students have even taken their project and built their own company around it.
Dealing with challenges
I had to work and fulfill my family responsibilities while I went back to college, and many DeVry University students are in the same situation. It takes determination; it's a struggle. Having gone through it, I totally understand the obstacles and challenges. Younger students often don't understand time management, and their life can feel overwhelming.
I tell those students, "Take care of your family first. DeVry University is going to be here tomorrow. If you have to take a semester off to take care of personal responsibilities, do it. Don't jeopardize your future by trying to juggle so many things at one time that you can't do any of them right."
A higher degree of confidence
What sets DeVry University graduates apart is their confidence level. My first employer hired 15 people who started about the same time I did. Five of us were from DeVry University. The first three months, we were in orientation and training, including technical training. The DeVry University graduates quickly realized that we knew more than the new hires from other universities. And because of our hands-on training, we had already done what they were teaching us. I see this time and again with our graduates and hear it from employers.
Career Services Rock!
The campus career center is phenomenal. Both as a teacher and as a dean, I go with career services advisors to talk to potential employers face to face. I talk with the advisors constantly, explaining our programs and the skill sets our students have. I help them find niche areas in the industry where our graduates are a good fit.
The DeVry University metro deans have observed a trend now of students taking weekend classes because they have found full-time jobs. Career Services does a phenomenal job of working with the community to find jobs for our students. Students are eligible for assistance through Career Services as early as their fifth term - at the end of the second year of a three-year degree program.
For all the time that DeVry University has been regionally accredited, some people are still confused and think of us as a trade school. Here's the difference. DeVry University provides a general education along with technical and business classes to develop the student as a total person. Employers tell us that they want people who can communicate verbally and in writing, and who can work in a team environment. We teach that; trade schools don't. We try to develop professionals who excel in a professional environment.
I grew up in a traditional college environment; my father was a music professor for 36 years. So I know that good teachers everywhere care about their students. The difference at DeVry University is that teachers can act on that motivation more directly and effectively. We are a smaller community, with lots of advantages: small class sizes, access to resources and financial aid, and more exposure to industry.