First candidate for Commonwealth School director visits WKU

Tessa Duvall

The first candidate for the director of the Commonwealth School and associate dean of the University College gave a presentation to faculty and staff at South Campus this afternoon.

Nancy Singer, the current assistant director of Admissions and Recruitment of the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center at the University of Arizona, has spent 16 years in administration at three community colleges.

Singer gave a 15-minute presentation to the group of about 30 attendees in which she outlined where she sees the role of the Commonwealth School – formerly the Bowling Green Community College – at WKU.

Decisions and plans should be based on data and the school should anticipate and respond to the employment needs of the region and the state, she said.

The school should also track students after they leave, either to begin a job or to continue their education, she said. Employers should be able to give feedback about how useful they find an associate’s degree from the school.

Faculty and staff were also given the opportunity to ask Singer questions.

Mark Staynings, associate business professor in the Commonwealth School, asked if Singer believed everyone should go to college.

“I think there is a need for everyone to have some sort of post-secondary education training,” she said.

Singer said a certain level of education is necessary to sustain a family, although education does not necessarily have to be a college degree. She mentioned

certificates and training in a specific trade in addition to degrees.

Michelle Hollis, an associate professor in the Commonwealth School, asked Singer about her experience dealing with minority students and diversity on campus.

Singer listed several examples, including experience with the GEAR UP program at the University of Arizona, in which she worked with low-income students-82 percent of whom were Hispanic-starting in middle school to try to increase college readiness.

Hollis said of the approximately 4,000 students in the Commonwealth School, about 27 percent are black. She then asked Singer how she would promote an environment of acceptance and tolerance.

Singer said that was a difficult question to answer, but that clear expectations should be set in the class room and an open dialogue should be held to discuss student comfort about certain situations.

The next forum will be November 18 at 3:30 p.m. with Tim Brotherton, chair of academic support at the Commonwealth School.