By Vee Glessner
After several months without one, a new Vice Chancellor has just started at ERAU Prescott. Her name is Dr. Rhonda Capron, and she replaced Dr. Richard Bloom, who went back to teaching exclusively this semester. Capron has background in computer science, the Army, private industry, and school administration.
A few months back, Capron discovered the opening for a Vice Chancellor at Embry-Riddle Prescott. She reached out and began corresponding with the hiring committee. “I really appreciated the emphasis on student success. If there’s one thing I care about, it’s student success. Their focus on that came across loud and clear,” Capron says of the committee on the initial phone interview.
Next was a day trip to campus. “I got a tour from a student, and that was the deciding factor. I saw the climate and what was being accomplished here,” according to Capron.
As much as she loved the campus when she visited, the Vice Chancellor says her experience so far has exceeded her expectations: “I’m in my third week and it is even better than I thought. I am delighted to be here.”
The highlights so far have been student presentations to the Board of Visitors, which were Capron’s first interaction with the student organizations on campus and their accomplishments. Athletes discussed their academic experience and clubs shared their hands-on engineering projects. In addition, she loved the Undergraduate Research Institute presentations the week of the career fair. “At another institution, that research would be at the Masters and Doctorate level,” she says.
When she graduated from college with her bachelor’s in computer science, Capron went to work for the U.S. Army in telecommunications. In the meantime, she got her MBA, and after 10 years, Capron decided to move back to the States from Europe with her husband and work in private industry. With 8 years of industry experience under her belt, Capron was ready for a change.
“After two careers, one for the government and one in private industry, I really wanted to give back. We were in California, and I decided to join a small liberal arts university. I said, ‘Talk to me about this teaching thing.’ I became a business professor and absolutely fell in love with teaching and college life,” said Capron. Thus, she spent 10 years associated with William Jessup University in Rocklin, Calif.
Next, Capron moved into administration as a dean for two online universities in Arizona. “I saw education from the other side: adult online education. I learned a lot about curriculum development, assessment, accreditation, and programmatic accreditation, but I missed the campus life,” she recalled.
Now, as the Vice Chancellor, Capron gets to combine her passion for working with students with an on-campus experience and administrative influence. In her new role, she will be advising academic affairs – all of the academic support outside the classroom. This includes the Hazy Library and Learning Center, Disability Support Services, Tutoring, Study Abroad, Undergraduate Research Institute, Honors, Career Services, and the Embry-Riddle Language Institute (ERLI). “They’re academic functions, but they’re not directly related to the curriculum development in the colleges,” Capron describes.
The past, present, and future plans of these services are constantly under assessment, and Capron is a big piece of this process. “How do these functions broaden their support for students studying in all disciplines, not just the ‘traditional’ Embry-Riddle?” she questions, noting that as the university expands its degree focuses, these services need to support the increasing scope. According to Capron, “We need to assess where we are and where we need to go to support that diversity.”
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