Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/eastvalleyopinions/articles/1210sepopquiz1210.html

Extra programs enrich educational experience
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 10, 2003 12:00 AM
Cindy Hernandez

Anna Solley is vice chancellor for the Division of Academic Affairs for the Maricopa County Community College District. Solley uses her love for education in working with her staff as it strives for achievement and success of students, faculty, administrators and community members.

The division coordinates educational programs, in addition to the current 8,000 courses and more than 200 certificate or degree programs, for the district's 10 colleges and 108,500 students. The division also builds partnerships with institutions in Arizona and elsewhere for better transfer articulation agreements with more options for students.

Solley, a Latina who had strong female role models as she was growing up, leads her staff in meeting the goals of the division while supporting the district's mission of instruction, public service and workforce development.

Today's Pop Quiz talks with Solley to learn more about the Division of Academic Affairs and how she balances her schedule, which includes chairing the district Curriculum Committee, co-chairing the Teacher Education Partnership Commission and the Bioindustry Workforce Commission, and teaching at Northern Arizona University.

Describe the Division of Academic Affairs.

The Division of Academic Affairs comprises 10 departments. We are committed to student success as well as quality teaching and learning.

Our division provides a variety of services to students, faculty andadministrators as well as community members. We are dedicated to ensuring that we provide professional development opportunities for faculty. We also work diligently in the area of workforce development.

Our division is responsible for anything that has to do with an educational or academic affairs partnership or issue. We really feel that our division initiates and enhances learning for our diverse communities to leadership, service, innovation and collaboration.

How does Academic Affairs fall in line with the district's mission?

We take a look at all of the components of our mission as a system. For example, in transfer and general education, we have developed a number of exemplary articulation agreements with both private and public universities.

We're very excited about a new relationship with Arizona State University: ASU-Maricopa Alliance. In this particular program, we're looking at developing a seamless opportunity for our students to jointly be admitted to both institutions. We work closely with employers, cities and other government agencies as well as community members to provide job training and workforce development efforts. We have the Teacher Education Partnership Commission.

Our mission is to support the recruitment, the retention and the preparation of pre-K through 12 teachers. We also provide leadership on a national level. We have formed a national association at community colleges dedicated to teacher education programs, and we have done this in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges and the League for Innovation.

You are bilingual and multicultural. How does this play into your work?

I was raised with an appreciation for people, for diversity, for their different talents and skills that they bring to the position. I'm very comfortable certainly speaking in Spanish and making people feel comfortable when they interface with me. It has worked to my advantage in terms of broadening my respect for differences in cultures and ethnicities; networking in the community because people know who I am and they know what I stand for, and serving as a role model.

(Also) working very closely with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as well as the Department of Commerce to reach out to those small business owners who are diverse so that we can provide services to them. We are developing relationships in Mexico with government entities to provide some training opportunities for small business owners in Mexico.

When I was being raised, education was always emphasized in my family. I feel strongly that every child should have the opportunity to go to college, and I know that in Maricopa we work very hard to fulfill that promise to the community. We have a program called dual enrollment whereby students can earn college credit and high school credit at the same time.

What challenges do you face in your position as vice chancellor for academic affairs?

Being sure that we continue to support our colleges and our district, (and) at the same time adhering to high expectations, which I fully support. We have many more students coming to the community college who have very special needs, and we need to be sure that we can continue to support them and provide options to them for their learning.

In our division, we've strived very hard to focus on quality customer service. We welcome suggestions from the community for new programs, for new courses. So that's the other challenge for us is being sure that we can do everything, meet the needs of our community, in a quality way knowing that some of our resources may be limited.

How do you find the time to balance all of your commitments?

My family will tell you that, Number 1, I'm a workaholic. I was raised in a culture where everybody worked very hard. I'll never take on a commitment where I know I can't provide quality - quality service or quality experience. During the week it doesn't matter how many hours I work - 60, 70, 80 - but I try and safeguard the weekends for my family. I couldn't do my job without the support of my children and my husband. That is key to making all of this work. I have some very gifted individuals that work in the Division of Academic Affairs. I learned very quickly how important it is to work with them, trust them and then certainly ask for their support and their leadership. So I'm very lucky in that regard as well.

Pop Quiz puts topical questions to people in the news. Readers are invited to offer names of possible subjects for this feature and questions they should be asked. Write Opinions, The Arizona Republic, 106 E. Baseline Road, Mesa, AZ 85210, contact us at se.letters@arizonarepublic.com or fax us at (602) 444-7985.