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'Extreme extrovert' takes over at WCCC

Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, 11:12 p.m.
 

For Tuesday Stanley, becoming a college president was never part of her life plan before she came to Westmoreland County Community College.

That's mostly because she never had an overall life plan, she admits.

“This is counterintuitive to what I'd tell students,” Stanley said. “People have given me chances to grow and expand. Anytime you get an opportunity, you should take it.”

Stanley, 46, left her position as a vice chancellor at Metropolitan Community College, an urban, five-campus college in Kansas City to become WCCC's first female president on July 1.

A self-described “extreme extrovert” and “gym rat,” Stanley said she and her family — husband Royce and three children — are loving the beauty of Western Pennsylvania. They bought a house in Unity, and her children started school last week at Greater Latrobe.

Stanley earned a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in business administration from Lehigh University and a bachelor's degree in advertising and communications from Purdue.

She said she considers herself lucky to have landed the WCCC job and to do something she loves every day.

Her interviews with the college were eventful: her first was a brief video chat on her iPad in a packed airport when foul weather grounded all flights and she couldn't make it to Pittsburgh. She had a follow-up video interview from home the next day. “I thought, there's no way” I'm getting the job, Stanley said.

She finally made it to WCCC's campus near Youngwood for an interview on April 9, the day a student allegedly stabbed 21 people at Franklin Regional Senior High School.

She was offered the job that week.

“I don't believe you should shut down an opportunity — keep all your options open,” Stanley said.

At her first trustees meeting Wednesday, Stanley hinted at ways she'll be different from her predecessor, the quiet, 71-year-old Daniel Obara.

Where Obara would read board resolutions and his monthly written report verbatim, Stanley frequently ad-libbed jokes and asides while reading. She wished one trustee a happy birthday, saying she loves to “call people out” at meetings.

In the long term, Stanley said she wants to develop a collaborative, team-based environment at the school and between the college and community groups.

“Tuesday is great at providing a very high-level picture of what needs to happen. She'll give you some goals and empower you to accomplish those goals ... without getting too much into the weeds,” said Dan Ascheman, who worked with Stanley at Metropolitan Community College since 2007.

She is a “fabulous team player” who took on “more work than I've ever seen anyone” take on, doing the job of two vice chancellors, her former colleague said.

When Metropolitan was in the thick of a budget crisis, salary negotiations and a new enrollment strategy, Stanley volunteered to teach a college orientation class, Ascheman said.

“I think she wanted to keep the students in mind. She got kind of wrapped up in these two vice chancellor roles,” said Karen Goos, dean of student development and enrollment management at Metropolitan.

Mike Hricik, president of WCCC's faculty union, said Stanley's success at Metropolitan and, before that, at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, bode well for WCCC.

“It's good to have somebody who's so energetic and has good ideas that have been tested before and are effective,” Hricik said. “I think she's trying to get more input and more ideas ... . She's trying to have a more inclusive style.”

Stanley said she hopes to build stronger relationships with local high schools and focus on the college's unique offerings, such as the new Advanced Technology Center in East Huntingdon that could lead to business partnerships and training contracts for area workers.

College enrollment dipped nearly 6.6 percent to 5,675 students this fall compared with last year, she said.

“We're looking at enrollment because it is an aging population (in Western Pennsylvania),” Stanley said. “The high school enrollment is not expected to be at the level that it was before, and so really our approach is more of a niche marketing, determining those markets that we really do have something to offer, and then capitalizing on that.”

Outside of work, Stanley said she enjoys running and lifting weights, attending her children's sports games, and wine tasting with her husband.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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