New UCC president plans to make connections with college using listening skills and teamwork

Published by Melinda Benton on

Rachel Pokrandt becomes UCC’s 12th president.
Picture provided by Rachel Pokrandt

New UCC president plans to make connections with college using listening skills and teamwork

If you can’t find UCC’s new president Rachel Pokrandt, try checking the bike rack or the choir rooms or one of UCC’s walking paths. Hoping to listen and build connections with staff and faculty, Pokrandt offered to join them on their daily walks around campus. Pokrandt, an avid outdoors person, likes to communicate by listening to others rather than always talking.

Pokrandt follows one of the key rules for winning friends and influencing people: listening. “For my first six months, my communication is going to be about listening. I always say you have two ears and one mouth for a reason and you should use them proportionately. There is a long history and a legacy here and a lot of people doing great work. My first step is to listen to them and understand so I can figure out how to help them,” Pokrandt said. 

As she steps into a new position, Pokrandt said she wants to focus on building connections between the college and the community; “I think the community is disconnected and doesn’t know all the great things that are happening with our students, and I think they’re ready for that.”

Although Pokrandt is serious about her new role and responsibilities as UCC’s president, she is known for not taking herself too serious. In order to be the best leader, Pokrandt practices her own teaching techniques with herself. Pokrandt said, “I always like to say that I take my work very seriously, but I do not take myself very seriously;

“I like to have fun and laugh a lot. I think you can be both serious about the mission, but you can also have fun getting there.” She explains that previous coworkers “sent me this very funny email that said silly things like: ‘Have you told them that you like to wear a costume,’ ‘Have you told them that you’ll sing karaoke at the drop of a hat?’ or ‘Have you told them that you eat all the time and that you bring food to every meeting?’”

However, when it comes to working and leading a team, Pokrandt does not fall short of helping; “I think previous coworkers would also say that I am in it with them. I am a roll up your sleeves and get to work together and work as a team kind of person, I’m not much for hierarchy. Yes, ultimately I am the captain of this ship, but it takes a crew to run a ship.”

Pokrandt feels that her communication style is authentic; ‘I bring my whole heart to work. Whatever I am thinking and feeling comes straight out of my mouth. I probably overshare, but I do that because I think it’s important that people know that I am bringing in my true self to my work. I am a person and I am not any different than them. I am just very authentic to who I am, it’s how I show up,” Pokrandt said.

In spite of only having lived in Douglas County for a short period of time, Pokrandt, along with her husband and their dog, has ridden her bike around the local vineyards and Diamond Lake. She has also already bought a house that is fairly close to campus. 

While living in Colorado, Pokrandt came across the UCC president job posting during a time when she wasn’t actively seeking this role. “I didn’t really have a plan to become a college president. When the board of UCC put out a presidential search they put out a presidential profile, and it really spoke to me. I never quite had seen a job description like that. It was just the amount of fun, and it really felt like it fit my style. I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and try it because it sounded like something that would fit my skill set,” Pokrandt said.

While coming to visit UCC during her interviews for the job, Pokrandt said, “I felt this instant connection when I got here because the landscape is a lot like where I grew up in England; it’s very green and tons of trees and rivers, so I instantly felt this heart connection to the place.” 

“I always say that everybody wants to show up at work and be successful, so you should never try to get a job that you’re not going to be successful at. When I read the job description I thought I could actually slay that. I feel so fortunate to have been the successful candidate. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I wasn’t out there looking for this, but the place really spoke to me and the opportunity here, and I thought with the experiences that I had I could be really successful,” Pokrandt said.

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