New VP of academic affairs to zoom in on graduation rates
Dr. Roger L. Yohe, who has nearly three decades of administrative and teaching experience at Arizona community colleges, has joined Palm Beach State College as the new vice president for academic affairs.
The Iowa native comes to PBSC from Mesa Community College, the largest of the 10 colleges governed by the Maricopa Community College District, where he was interim vice president of academic affairs for the last year. Prior to then, he served as Mesa Community College’s dean of innovative learning for five years, with administrative oversight for the library, Center for Teaching and Learning and Enhancement Centers as well as MCC Online.
He started his 27-year career with the district in 1989 in a one-year temporary faculty appointment before becoming a founding professor of computer information systems the following year at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale. In 2000, he was promoted to director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, where for 10 years he was responsible for e-learning, technology integration, faculty development and multimedia development. From 1999-2007, he also taught doctoral-level courses in Educational Leadership at Arizona State University.
Yohe says his past experiences have prepared him for the new role, and he looks forward to continuing to get to know the College, its faculty and staff and helping to move the College forward. That includes tackling a key College initiative: boosting student completion rates.
He likened his process of learning the intricacies of PBSC to that of preparing for a new class of students. “I knew all of my students’ names before the first day of class,” he said.
He studied the PBSC catalog, student handbook, as well as the College’s accreditation reports, learning as much as he could before his first day on the job July 5. He plans to continue that discovery process during the first few months. He said he will visit every campus immediately and more than once and “look, listen and ask questions about what should be done to improve academic affairs and student completion.”
“I was able to determine early that there was a yearning for the College to improve. Any great organization needs to improve to be relevant to its stakeholders,’’ he said. “I want to be involved in an organization that is really dedicated to student success and completion and how we can improve.”
Yohe was chosen after a national search. He replaced Dr. Sharon Sass, who served in the role for 17 years before retiring in early 2015. Dr. Ginger Pedersen served as the interim vice president of academic affairs for 18 months.
He arrives at a significant time for the College that centralized academic affairs as part of a reorganization by PBSC President Ava L. Parker this year. Instead of reporting to a campus provost, the academic affairs deans on each campus now report to Yohe, allowing the College to streamline and enhance its academic programs and offerings and scheduling processes. He also arrives as the College works toward Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to Florida’s 28 colleges last fall to boost their graduation rates for full-time students to 100 percent in three years. Student completion also remains a key metric for performance-based funding.
Yohe said student completion requires a holistic approach, including ensuring adequate learning environments. He wants to explore what policies and procedures get in the way of student completion.
“It’s everyone’s business. We all have a role. It’s not just the teacher’s job or advisor’s job. Everyone should know what their role is in student success and completion. I believe in collaboration with all segments of the College towards our mission.”
Yohe holds a bachelor’s degree in business education, safety and coaching from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree in educational administration and Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy from Arizona State University. He is married with a 9-year-old son and 7-year old daughter.