Maddie Chalk/Editor In Chief
Del Mar College underwent a school-wide reorganization of nearly every department including the offices of Student Engagement and Retention this past summer. Cheryl Gardner has spent nearly three weeks in the position of Dean of Student Engagement and Retention since taking over Sandra Valerio’s former interim title.
Gardner said the position will take a little longer to get used to than usual due to the reorganization and because there was not a permanent dean in the position before her.
“I didn’t come into a department that was already flowing and functioning at full capacity,” Gardner said. “Most of the staff is new, too.”
Gardner has spent her first few weeks in committee meeting and getting to know the people in her department.
“I’m spending my time right now trying to learn, reading through policies, job descriptions, and the way the budget is mapped out,” Gardner said. “It has just been difficult starting off trying to meet with so many people and figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Her background in higher education for over 15 years, previously in Baltimore, helps her adapt to this situation, Gardner said.
“It’s just that every school is different and every state is different so I have to learn the way Del Mar does things and how Texas does things,” Gardner said.
The offices of Student Engagement and Retention oversees many programs, including the Student Success Center, TRIO, Achieving the Dream, the Student Leadership and Campus Life office and the new Transition Center.
“The Transition Center is designed to help students transition from Del Mar into a career or a four-year university,” Gardner said.
The Veteran’s Office, which currently has no coordinator, is also under Gardner’s jurisdiction.
“The job is currently posted and that position will be my first hire,” Gardner said.
Gardner said the challenge she faces is to adapt to the changes made to her programs from the recent reorganization and to bring her own initiatives to the department.
“I know higher education, student development and student services because that’s my background,” Gardner said, “but I have to individualize that for this school. My job now is to join in and play a leadership role for this school.”