Dr. Marta Yera Cronin started work July 1 as president of Columbia Gorge Community College.
The New York native was previously vice president of academic affairs at Indian River State College, Port St. Lucie, Fla and succeeded Dr. Frank Toda, who retired in 2017 after 16 years with CGCC.
Cronin received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Sarasota, Fla.
She served as president of the Florida Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and was chosen as a leadership fellow to the American Association of Community Colleges National Community College Hispanic Council.
This is part one of a two-part interview with Cronin. She met earlier in July with Kirby Neumann-Rea, Hood River News editor, in the commons of the Indian Creek Campus,
HRN: What brings you to the Hood River campus today?
Marta Cronin: This will be my first meeting with the Latinx Advisory Council. It’s been lot of meeting people for the past month. It’s been great.
How many hands have you shaken during your first weeks in the Gorge?
Oh, five, six dozen. It’s been a lot. I’ve really enjoyed it.
What are your overall impressions of the work, and the college as a whole?
This college is great. People have been so welcoming. And people on campus, they’re ready to just be innovative and move in new directions, which is important.
What was it like when you first got here and started to get settled in?
The first day was July 1, I went to the supermarket and someone recognized me, which I thought was interesting. She recognized me by the fact I was from Florida. She said, “Where are you from?” I guess it was the accent. And she said, “You must be the new president of the college.” It was pretty impressive.
A lot of people say, “Well, it’s a small town,” but it was an interesting moment. The first week was pretty quiet, they didn’t put too many things on me to do, just let me walk around campus and get to know people and what they do, and so it was fun.
You have been to both campuses. Now that you’ve had time to spend here, how is the college different or what have you noticed that you did not before?
The campuses are different, and that’s typical. Where I came from there were five campuses and the populations were different. A lot of people don’t see that the college is one, that’s what we forget. We are one. There are The Dalles and Hood River but we are one unit, so we need to make sure we’re on the same message and same mission.
Part Two of the interview with Marta Cronin, beginning with the question:
Overall do you have a sense of the college's greatest need and aspects you would like to address as new president?
Cronin: Yes, we've been talking about ways to increase enrollment. Ultimately, I would like this to be a destination college...
Do you get the impression that the community as a whole sees it that way?
Some people I talked to don’t see it that way. They’re used to being in one place or another, their office is here, and they don’t get to The Dalles or Hood River, and I think they need to experience it, everyone needs to experience everything related to the college. It’s not by design that they don’t; it’s not that they don’t want to know. I think it’s what they’re used to.
What steps will you take to give people more sense of connectedness to both areas?
We’d like the faculty to teach on both campuses, or alternate, so that students get to know them on both campuses, that they know both places. I think students will come here because they want a specific instructor that they know or they have had before, and they’ll do that in The Dalles too. We want that, we want them to mix with the people they usually mix. We have a faculty that know each other, but they don’t often interact with the faculty on the main campus, only on certain occasions.
It’s important to bring the whole college together as a community, like to have a professional development day for the whole staff, for everyone who works at the college, so they can come together in different departments, and catch up on what each other is doing, and share ideas, and it’s very powerful when you bring people like that, when you have groups with faculty and administrators and custodians share different perspectives on the campus and what the mission is. It’s valuable information to have.
How do you plan to gain those perspectives?
I’ve been talking to everyone who will take the time to talk to me about what they see as a our future, and what they feel we’ve been missing in the past, just to try to get their perspective in their different roles. It’s been very informative.