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2002 Grad Garrett Leads as Deputy Chancellor at Central Texas College

Word of mouth – it’s still the best form of advertising. It’s what first brought Robin Garrett to Bellevue University back in 2000 when a co-worker discussed his online classes. Garrett had earned an associate’s degree at San Jacinto College and was working at the Houston, Texas, school when she selected Bellevue University to complete her bachelor’s degree.

She earned that degree in 2002 and went on to earn three more degrees, including her Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern in Technology in Education. She has since carved out a career in higher education with stops at community colleges in Texas and Kansas. She is currently in her second year as Deputy Chancellor at Central Texas College, a community college located in Killeen, Texas.

Bellevue University talked with Garrett recently about her role at Central Texas, her Bellevue University experience, and the role of community colleges going forward.

What are some of your main responsibilities as Deputy Chancellor at Central Texas College?

I am the chief academic officer for the college and am ultimately responsible for student success and completion.  I am responsible for insuring our institution’s compliance and accreditation with our regional accrediting body, SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges). I have several deans reporting to me (Student Services, Student Success, Institutional Accountability and Curriculum Support, Library, Marketing). They are amazing in their roles, for which I am very thankful.

What do you enjoy most about your job at Central Texas and working in higher education in general?

Seeing the result of my team’s work when graduation comes. Graduation signals a new beginning for the students and is life changing. Knowing that my team has had a positive impact on the future of that person and their family gives me the greatest hope and keeps me going every day.

How has the role of community colleges changed since you first earned your associate’s degree at San Jacinto, and what do you see as the future of community colleges?

I see a big difference in the role of the community college. We are challenged with many state and national initiatives to help students through enrollment and then through graduation.  When I was working toward my associate degree, I was not aware of advisors, financial aid, or any services that may have been provided back then.  We now have supports and special funding for first-generation college students that was not available before. We have pathways, stacked credentials, dual credit, success teams, and analytics to predict who needs intrusive advising, all to support students.

What led you to select Bellevue University to pursue your bachelor’s degree?

A co-worker was attending Bellevue online.  I had always wanted to complete a bachelor’s degree and saw this as the opportunity I needed.  There was over 13 years between receiving my associate degree and my enrollment at Bellevue (University).  Online learning was not an option in the 90s and between working and family, I did not have the time to attend face-to-face classes. Bellevue (University) provided a way to utilize the credits I earned at the associate’s level to make the time-to-completion very doable through an online environment.

What was your biggest takeaway from your Bellevue University experience?

I learned that I could continue to learn and was very proficient at learning online.  I utilized my Bellevue University classes as a model to develop effective online classes at various institutions. I believe I was a better online instructor because of the classes I had at Bellevue (University).

Where are you from originally and where did you go to high school?

I am originally from New York, but moved to Texas with my family during my junior year of high school. In New York, I attended Walter Panas High School and graduated from Humble High School in Texas.

Who have been some of the biggest supporters of your academic and career endeavors?

I would have to say my family.  My husband and my daughter have been instrumental in providing support, time, and resources that gave me the opportunity to explore and succeed in achieving my goals. I also have several previous co-workers who were there for me throughout my career and doctoral studies. I would not have had the courage or ability to take the risks and continue without these people.