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Here new college leaders seek a 'collaborative vision of education' - 32963 Features, 32963 News

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The new president of Vero’s only university campus, Dr. Terry Graham, has arrived this summer with four college degrees and an impressive résumé on his way to becoming an academic leader. But she doesn’t think she knows everything.

Instead, her goal at Indian River State University’s Mueller campus is to learn more from the local industry about student aspirations, faculty expertise, community needs, and how to provide education to employees. to develop what she calls a “collaborative vision of education” shaped by diverse input. future.

“I may have my own little vision of what a university should be and what it should teach, but what are we going to do if the community disagrees with that?” Graham, who took office as president on August 1, said: “We have to build a vision together.”

Graham doesn’t see input from industry as a one-off. Business He meets and greets leaders, hears their ideas, and then returns to run a traditional university with a little twist on business.

Instead, she plans a continuous cycle of communication and innovation, focusing on industry trends and technological changes to provide businesses with top-notch workers and evolve students into successful careers. It shapes the curriculum and the structure of the university.

“We want to create a targeted apprenticeship program so that we can hear from the industry how our graduates are doing, make adjustments and provide the exact training they need,” added Graham.

In addition to graduating traditional two- and four-year students, she provides better “doorways” for students to enter college, acquire specific skills, and be empowered to return to the workforce. and exit”.

“We want to develop pathways to certifications that can later lead to degrees,” she said.

“Some students are ready for a full degree now, while others may need a progressive approach. I have to.

“We want them to come and get the certificates they need to get better jobs, raises, etc. so they can get out the door. and you can come back when you’re ready to add additional certificates or complete a degree.

Graham, one of five children in a blue-collar family in Jacksonville, said he was “passionate about work education” and hoped the Mueller campus would become “a major piston of economic development.” I hope

But she also values ​​classical educational ideas and intentions. Familiar with what she calls “the great educational theorists of the past,” she wants to give her students more than just technical skills.

“There are important skills that transcend time and technological change,” says Graham. “We learn critical thinking and problem solving, how to work in teams, and how to communicate verbally and in writing. Our students need these soft skills too.”

Graham’s career in higher education has traversed nearly all areas of academia, from historic black colleges where she earned her first two degrees to major research universities where she earned her Ed.D. Moved from the highly ranked private liberal arts college where she earned her MBA to a large community college system similar to IRSC. Most recently, she served as interim campus her president of two campuses where she enrolls more than 35,000 students annually.

But her touching story begins on the north side of Jacksonville. Her mother ran a beauty salon and her father was a port inspector, making sure that departing trucks were loaded with the right cargo and headed for the right destination.

In her parents’ view, bad grades weren’t an option, so she grew up with good grades, reading The Adventures of Encyclopedia Brown and Judy Bloom’s books for fun, and spending time with her siblings and friends. I hung out on the beach.

“We were beach bunnies,” she said.

After high school, where Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison were on her reading list, she went to Florida A&M. Florida A&M is a black land-granted college historically located in Tallahassee where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Elementary Education.

“I thought I’d be teaching school all my life,” she said.

Her first job was teaching 4th grade at a brand new elementary school in Atlanta.

“It was very exciting,” she said. Florida will spoil you. It took me a year to run and come back. ”

Then there was a gig teaching math at a middle school in Orlando. Graham said it was “a great experience.”

Five years later, she was ready to shift gears and enrolled at Rollins College in Winter Park, a top private liberal arts college in the South. There she obtained her MBA, which led to her job as a market analyst in the housing industry.

She found the job interesting, but still listened to the siren songs of academia. I walked the road until I became

“At that point, I wanted to continue my education and grow and build a career. I needed another degree to grow the way I wanted to.”

Graham was married, had two children, and worked as a college administrator, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But she had her own vision, and she enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Florida, where she made the 120-mile round trip commute to Gainesville several times a week to take her classes. rice field.

“I know what it’s like to be an ‘at-risk student’ with so many distractions,” Graham said. “‘What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this?’ It has contributed greatly to the way I help them learn what I had to learn about things.

After earning her PhD in Education in 2011, she found herself on the “interview circuit” and landed a job as Dean of the Academic Foundation at Seminole State University.

“I have always sought opportunities to develop my abilities and knowledge while fulfilling the mission of my school and community,” she says.

After five years at Seminole State University, that search led to a job as Executive Dean at Valencia College, which has eight campuses in and around Orlando.

Beginning in 2016, Graham led the academic, financial, and operational areas of the Winter Park campus, working closely with the campus president. In 2020, she was named Interim President of the University’s West Her Campus and Downtown Her Campus, adding to her role as Chief Academic Officer and Operations Officer for the two sites.

As COVID-19 swept through campuses, Graham took a crash course in crisis leadership while learning more about leading two large campuses.

Graham has grown again, looking to become a permanent campus leader rather than an interim one, and has returned to the interview circuit after COVID-19 has subsided.

When she interviewed Dr. Timothy Moore, who sees Indian River State University as the “flywheel of the economy,” the sparks flew.

“Among all the interviews, Dr. Moore was clearly ahead of the pack when it came to understanding how best to move education forward with the times,” said Graham. “He was very focused on how we interacted and engaged with the community in a way that truly served them. I wanted to know.”

The positive impression was mutual.

“Dr. Graham knocked everyone out of their socks,” Moore told Vero Beach 32963. “I was fascinated. was there.”

“Technology, industry and society are changing at the speed of light,” said Graham. “The question for us is how can we deliver a really good and accredited education, and how quickly can we deliver it? We continue to put people in high-paying jobs that benefit our communities.”

Casey Lunceford, former president of Mueller Campus, saw education from the same perspective as Moore and Graham. In his eight years leading the campus, from the Gifford Youth Achievement Center to the Quail Valley River Club, from Johns Island to the Cleveland Clinic, from Piper Aircraft to the colleges around the state where he has IRSC, he has delivered academic, business and non-academic achievements. We have built a synergistic network of commercial connections. Graduates will continue the upward trajectory started from IRSC.

Julia Keenan, director of development at the IRSC Foundation, said: “The Johns Island, Orchid, Grand Harbor and Quail Valley charities have scholarships of all kinds to support IRSC students. Individuals in these communities also fund scholarships. understands the value of IRSC to our employees and ourselves.”

Lunceford stayed for a month to familiarize Graham with campus life, connect her to a network of supporters and collaborators, and provide a solid platform for her to build on.

Graham said of her lightning-fast meetings with city, county, nonprofit and business leaders, “It was a whirlwind. It really helped me get off to a flying start.”

Post-Covid-19 enrollment has increased at the Mueller campus, with 1,500 students directly participating in classes taught by 35 full-time and part-time faculty.

Across the university, 215 full-time and 600 part-time faculty teach approximately 25,000 students.

“I love it,” Graham said of her new job and Bello’s stay so far.

She was able to find her favorite home near campus where she lives with her 14-year-old daughter, a freshman at Sebastian River High School. Her son, who just turned 21, is completing her senior year at a college in Louisiana.

Graham is thrilled to live near the beach again and is excited to get to know Vero’s restaurants and live music scene.

But what she likes most about her new town is the lack of traffic, or jams.

“Orlando was rough,” said Graham. “That I-4 turns you into another person, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I had to play meditative music just to keep the highway up there, but here it’s much more relaxing.” People let you in and don’t cut you out!”