New VP of academic services soon to come

Published by Savannah Peterson and Katie Gray on

UCC is hiring two new vice presidents; one for academic services and one for student services. The college’s current president, Rachel Pokrandt, is choosing to return to the traditional VP administration structure instead of the previous provost structure that combined these two positions under president Debra Thatcher.

A hiring committee narrowed the applications down to three candidates for each position who they invited to come to UCC for an open discussion. While focusing on the VPAS candidates, 

Teresa Rivenes is a current vice president of academic and student services at Tillamook Bay Community College.

The Mainstream attended two presentations for two of these candidates.

The candidates had an open conversation with faculty, staff and students, discussing post-COVID-19 teaching and learning. The college told the candidates that preparing a presentation was optional because of the open discussion style. 

The first VPAS candidate, Teresa Rivenes, is currently vice president of academic and student services at Tillamook Bay Community College. Her current position at Tillamook is similar to UCC’s previous provost position. At Tillamook, she served under Ross Tomlin who was a former VP of academics at UCC. 

Rivenes was a finalist for the UCC president position that was filled by Rachel Pokrandt in the summer of 2021. When Rivenes applied for the president’s position, she told the college that she wants to focus on team building and culture development. She also expressed a passion for enhancing partnerships with K-12 and the community. 

Like other candidates for the VPAS position, she has attended community college herself. 

Rivenes was formerly dean of instruction at Rogue Community college. She was a director of academic support at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and also a campus director at Park University. 

Christopher Rehn is opening up the discussion of post-COVID-19 teaching and learning to faculty and students.
Katie Gray / The Mainstream

The second candidate Chris Rehn is currently the senior instructional dean at Lane Community College. He became the dean at Lane in 2017 where he directs 26 programs. In addition to his position as the dean, he also has 10 years of experience as a professor and administrator of their internship program. 

Rehn is a first-generation student and is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He has an MBA in business and a J.D. in law, and he completed post-law school in Germany. 

He chose to apply to UCC because of the rural area that reminds him of his hometown. UCC is the only place he has applied to currently. 

In his discussion forum, Rehn spoke a lot about the post-COVID-19 students and the quality of what UCC has to offer to students. Rehn also spoke about Lane’s new interest in micro-credential programs. These programs are digitally based, and some in the US funnel up to 40,000 students each year. 

Linda Samek presents her ideas on post-Covid learning.
Katie Gray / The Mainstream

Linda Samek currently works for UCC as the interim VP of special academic projects. She has been looking at the possibility of bringing a medical college to Douglas County. 

Samek has taught biology, nutrition, and math at Corban University. She has worked at and was a president at Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center, and also was a provost at George Fox University.   

Samek has a family background in farming, which she is really passionate about. During her teaching experiences, Samek said she followed the philosophy that learning is a shared experience, and all have things to learn and teach.

During her discussion time, she said virtual learning and teaching are possible, but not always optimal. She is excited that virtual learning can be flexible and accessible to those that have accessibility needs.

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