Written by The Business Journal Staff
Dr. Sandra Caldwell, President
What we do: Education
Education: Ed.D. in supervision, curriculum and instruction in higher education with emphasis in community colleges, from Texas A&M University-Commerce; a master’s degree in statistics from Oklahoma State University and a bachelor’s in mathematics education from Oklahoma State University.
Family: Husband, Jeromy (high school sweethearts) two sons: Tyler, 19, and Clay, 18, both in college
How did you come to your position with Reedley College, Dr. Caldwell?
I chose Reedley because it is a rural based college that is rich in diversity. Being from Oklahoma, I found the farming area very appealing. I have always worked in an institution with a residence hall and athletics, which brings a unique dynamic to a comprehensive community college.
What did you take away as associate vice president for planning and improvement at Western Wyoming Community College, Dr. Caldwell?
I learned that you have to work in an integrated system that is focused on quality. It takes strategic planning, intention, action, and involvement from different constituencies. The focus must always be on students and their learning and success.
In what ways is higher education different in California than Wyoming, Dr. Caldwell?
Fundamentally, it’s really not different. We all want to provide a high quality environment in which students receive an education that is meaningful and useful for a lifelong endeavor. The difference is in the processes and regulations. They are parallel but slightly different.
What are your top goals as president, Dr. Caldwell?
My top goals are to have a college focused on student learning and student success in Reedley, Madera and Oakhurst. I feel that my role is to make sure that we are meeting accreditation requirements, that we are being good community partners and stewards, integrating with business and industry and fulfilling our strategic plan so that it achieves all of the above.
What programs or aspects of Reedley College do you find to be the most promising? Which need improvement, Dr. Caldwell?
The most promising are our transfer programs, career technical education, and basic skills programs. We will be working to improve our integrated planning and leveraging programs and services inside and outside of the classroom with a focus on completion and success.
What relief for the college has come thanks to new funding from Proposition 30, Dr. Caldwell?
Before the passage of Proposition 30 we had to limit enrollment and access. Now we are adding classes and students have the courses they need to complete their programs.
How are community colleges dealing with the challenge of having to impart remedial skills on students before they take career courses?
We have always taken on this role; this is not a new challenge. We use early intervention for long-term success and focus on integrating processes. For example, we have embedded tutors in some classes to ensure student success.
What is enrollment like at Reedley College and is it growing, Dr. Caldwell?
Our enrollment is stable. Because of limited resources provided by the state, all community colleges were restricted from growing. Reedley College remains committed to meeting the needs of students in our service area. With the initial evidence of an upturn in the economy, it is allowing us to add back some of the classes we were not previously able to offer.
How many degrees or certificate programs does Reedley College offer?
Reedley College offers over 100 associate degrees and certificate programs that can help students reach their next step in life. Those include aviation maintenance, forestry, business entrepreneur, and the various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
What does Reedley College have in the way of satellite centers, Dr. Caldwell?
Reedley College has a very large service area with a campus in Reedley and its comprehensive programming at its Madera Center and Oakhurst Site.
Your education and teaching background is in mathematics and statistics. Can you describe your interest in those disciplines?
My interest is very high. I miss the classroom every day. With this connection to students and their success, I know my heart is in the right place.
What are you passionate about, Dr. Caldwell?
I am passionate about community colleges that serve rural areas. I really enjoy helping students change their lives and achieve their dreams through education.
What upcoming innovations are you most excited about?
I’m excited about the opportunity to think of student success in the classroom by utilizing a holistic approach. This comprehensive approach will focus on integrating everything that goes into the development of a student as opposed to separate subjects, one at a time. We will be providing advising, and seeking persistence and retention by utilizing a holistic approach.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Dr. Caldwell?
My first job was mowing lawns with a push mower. I learned that no matter how hard the job is, you have to complete it because people are depending on you.
What do you do in your spare time, Dr. Caldwell?
I am an outdoors person. I love riding horses, camping, packing in the high country, snow skiing, spending time with my family and friends, and volunteering in the community.