Alexander Appointed Division Dean

In 14 years as a Virginia Peninsula Community College faculty member, Michelle Alexander has discovered two passions: teaching and her students. However, for the past few years, she also has been thinking about the next step in her career.

Her new role as dean of the Public Safety, Allied Health, and Human Services (PSAHHS) division at the College involves all of that. And while she won’t be teaching, students still will be a big part of her responsibilities.

“I feel like it’s the time in my career to transition to taking (my) skills and helping to develop a new crop of faculty,” Alexander said.

Since being hired by VPCC as a faculty member in Health, Physical Education and Wellness in 2010, Alexander has often ventured outside the classroom for leadership opportunities. She has been a member of the faculty senate and served on numerous committees at VPCC. With the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), she served on the chancellor’s faculty advisory committee and an ad-hoc committee examining parental leave for faculty.

“I feel like being in this leadership role opens up some possibilities for me to be a part of initiatives and opportunities on campus that I don’t necessarily get the opportunity when I’m in the classroom,” she said, noting it was hard to give up teaching. “But I felt the way I’ve developed my career over the last few years, it was time for me to use those strengths in a different way on campus.”

Dr. Kerry Ragno, VPCC’s vice president for Academic Affairs, has no doubt Alexander is perfect for the position.

“As was evident during the interview process, Dean Alexander is committed to meeting the needs of faculty and students in her division and throughout the college, while maintaining and developing community partnerships,” Ragno wrote in an email to the College staff. “Her focus on academic excellence, collaborative leadership, and effective communication were assets during her tenure as interim dean last spring, and I am confident that they will continue to be so.”

Alexander, who is from Chesapeake and lives in Williamsburg with her husband and their three children, earned a bachelor’s degree in health science from James Madison University and a master’s in public health from the University of South Carolina. She was named the interim dean in February, and her first official day as dean was June 25.

The interim role provided her with the chance to see how things work from a different perspective. First on her to-do list is what she was doing in that role.

“And that’s to continue to work with our amazing faculty to set our goals for the future for the programs, to ensure that we are paying attention to enrollment, just really learning a little bit more about the different pieces and parts of campus,” she said.

She might return to the classroom in the future, but other than finishing some summer classes, she won’t be teaching. While it’s a big change, she can’t wait for the next semester to start.

“I’m really excited … and honored to be given this opportunity,” she said. I’m really looking forward to when our faculty are back on campus in August to really get things going.”