At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Iowa Central Community College Board of Directors, ICCC board member Darrell Determann introduced Emily Shields as the new executive director of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees.
The IACCT website states it is “a nonprofit corporation organized exclusively for the purpose of promoting social welfare by strengthening, developing and correlating the work of its Members (the Community College Boards) and promoting civic betterment and social improvements allowed by law.”
Shields grew up near Cedar Rapids and developed a passion for community colleges while watching her father attain his associate degree over the course of several years in night school.
She said, “I remember helping him and seeing his notes and it just made a huge difference to him and so that was my first introduction to not just the importance of education, but the importance of community colleges specifically.”
Shields attended the University of Iowa, majoring in political science and journalism. After college, she traveled all over, living in places like London, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
Ultimately, she decided to make her way back to Iowa. She said, “Big cities have a lot but they just can’t compete with being able to get home to be with your kids by 4:30 in the afternoon.” Shields and her family have lived in Des Moines for around 16 years.
Once she returned to Iowa, she worked in the governor’s office, mainly on education policy, giving her the opportunity to become familiar with the state’s community colleges. Then for the past nine years, she ran an organization called “Campus Compact,” working with colleges and universities in Iowa and Minnesota.
Shields said she is excited about this position and feels community colleges, like Iowa Central Community College, are starting to get more respect. She said, “I really feel like this is our moment and I’m very excited to get to work with community colleges right now, because I think we’re at such a unique time where people are maybe finally seeing the light and seeing what an important part of the education system community colleges are and we’re getting the support and attention we deserve.”
Shields began work with the IACCT in January and feels they are already making great strides in the Legislature.
“I really am so impressed with how well we execute on having one voice for advocacy that is so rare to see for a statewide association, and we really do it very well, and that results in strong outcomes,” she said. “We were able to just continue to fight for local control and local decision making when it comes to programs and I think that will continue to be a conversation.”
Shields said IACCT’s main goals for the next year are working on more representation for community colleges.
“The biggest thing to know is that community college minds come last. So we’re sort of at the very end of the process.” she said. “All the other lines get drawn and then we get our turn, but we’ll be working with the Department of Education on that process and ensuring we’re well represented there.”
Iowa Central Community College President Dr. Jesse Ulrich gave an update on the upcoming semester. He said they are excited to welcome back staff and students in the next few weeks and are looking forward to a great semester getting back to face-to-face classes. Currently, between part- and full-time students, ICCC has around 3,700 students registered for the fall semester.
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