Mike West brings past experiences to help students flourish in the business world

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BY HANNAH STRADER — THE CAMPUS LEDGER

09/25/2014 10:16 a.m. | Update: 09/25/2014 11:30 p.m.

Mike-West
PHOTO BY JULIA LARBERG/THE CAMPUS LEDGER

hstrade1@jccc.edu

Mike West, the new dean of business, is no stranger to the world of finance, nor the administrative position he’s taken over at the college. After 15 years of ex­perience in higher education, both as a professor and dean as well as time spent owning small businesses along the way, West admits he was reluctant to take the position.

“I knew Johnson County was a great college, but [I thought], ‘I’m not sure I want to get back into educational admin­istration. I’m enjoying teaching. If I move, it’ll probably be back into business,” said West.

“I was actually thinking along those lines, but then the more I thought about it, I thought. It’s a great college, very inno­vative, good people. The position is high enough in the organizational hierarchy where you can have some positive impact and help expand on what we’ve already got going, yet it’s not high enough that I have to get into the political arena and deal with the folks outside other than through working with businesses. You know, that might be the best administra­tive job in higher education in the whole city.’”

West currently oversees all the pro­grams in the business department, in­cluding specialized programs such as In­terior Design or Hospitality and Culinary Arts, among a handful of other business-related programs.

“My role in all of this is to try to make sense of all that and keep all of us moving in a direction that contributes to student success going through those programs as well as satisfying some of the employ­ment needs in the community and help­ing forward the goals of the college in a broad base or broad perspective. So my job is to kind of keep us focused on what we need to do in order to serve the stu­dents, the community and the college,” he said.

Though West had some experience as the Dean of Instruction at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Mo., he has had some troubles adjusting to his similar position on the Kansas side of the state line.

“The acronyms are different so it actually reminded me [of when] Alex Smith comes into the Chiefs and he talks about how learning the system and the terminol­ogy is kind of a tough transition, and through­out the season, he keeps learning more and more about it and gets bet­ter and fits into it better because he understands better what is expected and how it’s going to op­erate. I always thought that was kind of an exag­geration … but now I re­ally have strong sense of how the difference in sys­tems and terminology re­ally make a difference.”

However, West stress­es the importance of a good group of co-work­ers and how huge of a difference this can make.

“We do have some re­ally phenomenal people who work here. I really am enjoying getting to know and work with the chairs, and now the faculty are back so I’m learning more about them and working with them. I’m really ener­gized by working with what they have.”

This has helped with the various changes and improvements West has been striving to make in the business department. Along with improving schedules, West wants to work with students on building portfolios of their experiences in the classroom to better their employment opportuni­ties. In this way, he hopes to give students a form of exemplifying their expe­riences in school to show hands on experience in their desired field.

West is adamant that the business program at the college is one of the best in the Kansas City metro, and while he may not be able to claim any hand in building that reputation, he plans to do his best to expand upon it.

 

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