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take it slow, to see what students need and what
we can expect from them."
Karla Leach's millennial and Gen X sta;ers at
Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC)
often understand the needs of current students
better than their boomer counterparts, she says.
The college president, a boomer in her tenth year
at WWCC, says young faculty are able to bond with
learners over loan debt and other problems that
were not as prevalent during her college years.
"Baby boomers got to pay as they went during
school, so there's a gap in understanding our
students," Leach says. "Our younger faculty in the
same socioeconomic position as their students
are awfully good at connecting with them on
issues including race and hunger. I have high
hopes about our millennials in particular."
Leach is "bowled over" by the devotion of her
young professors, both in and out of the classroom. Teachers will accompany their charges on
national conferences and help them raise funds
for various issues.
"Our teachers don't make more money for
taking students to conferences, but they consider
it a part of their job," Leach says. "I'm amazed by
their dedication to make sure these students have
a complete experience at college."
PREPARING FUTURE LEADERS
As colleges work to narrow the perception gap
among generations, older administrators are
mentoring the next wave of young leaders to
eventually take their place. At WWCC, division
chairs teach millennial-age faculty the intrica-
cies of accreditation, compliance and learning
outcomes development. Leach is encouraging
staff to get their doctorates while sponsoring
them for statewide leadership programs.
"I'm giving them a taste (of leadership) to see if
it's something they want in their own plans," Leach
says. "I want to give them a positive experience."
Metropolitan Community College's Nooks
is sending newer sta;ers to The Thomas Lakin
Institute for Mentored Leadership, an organization aimed specifically at preparing individuals
for high-level community college roles.
"Millennials have great dedication and drive,
just with di;erent motivators. That's what we have
to tap into," Nooks says.
Tention of SLCC says embracing a youthful mindset will only improve campus life,
inspiring shared governance amid a chorus
of diverse voices.
"The world is changing and so are students,"
he says. "Institutions can leverage their spirit and
be open to change. That's where you're going to
see a shift, with student leaders on foundation
or state boards."
For now, Northwest College's Hicswa is proud
to collaborate with a powerful assemblage of generations, all of whom have something exceptional
to o;er the institution.
"Working with baby boomers and millennials brings a nice balance to campus," Hicswa
says. "Millennials' out-of-the-box thinking
and approach to technology pairs nicely with
baby boomers' focus on policy and institutional
memory. It has positive implications for community college culture and therefore a positive
impact on our students."
Douglas J. Guth is a writer based in Ohio.
“Millennials’ out-of-the-box thinking
and approach to technology pairs nicely
with baby boomers’ focus on policy and
STEFANI GRAY HICSWA, president, Northwest College