BY HANNAH STRADER — THE CAMPUS LEDGER
09/25/2014 10:16 a.m. | Update: 09/25/2014 11:30 p.m.
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.