Extra programs enrich educational experience
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 10, 2003 12:00 AM
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
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
(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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us at (602) 444-7985.