Southwest Colorado Community College gets a new dean

Educator from Pennsylvania owns land in La Plata County

After months of scouring résumés from across the country, on Tuesday, Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec named Norm Jones the new dean of its Southwest Colorado Community College.

In a phone interview, Erjavec said that with almost 40 years of experience in recruitment, admissions and marketing for private colleges, Jones “has a great proven track record as an academic leader, the depth, passion and breadth to really help us.”

Though Jones’ previous post was in Pennsylvania, serving as Delaware Valley College’s vice president for enrollment and athletics, he has owned property in La Plata County for more than 12 years.

“I’d always wanted to be in this area. Call it serendipity,” said Jones, who said his first move as dean had been “wrapping (his) arms around” Southwest Colorado Community College’s strategic plan.

Jones said he hoped to quickly “become visible to the people in the communities we serve, and assess what are the needs to successfully prepare students for jobs and enhance their life in some way.”

The dean position is new, encompassing responsibilities Shannon South, formerly the dean of Southwest Colorado Community College’s West Campus, and Lynn Urban, formerly dean of the East Campus, had shared until last summer.

In a decision that caused uproar among members of Southwest Colorado Community College’s advisory board and culminated in two members resigning, Erjavek fired both South and Urban last May. Erjacek defended the purge as financially prudent.

At the time, various board members lambasted Erjavek’s actions as needlessly cruel to South and Urban and indicative of her general contempt for the advisory board.

Erjavek said relations with the board had since been smoothed over, characterizing them as “good, I think, right now.”

Jones said he was looking forward to meeting the advisory board next week.

“I’m here to move forward with the mission of the college by fulfilling the charge that we’ve been given by the state to educate five counties,” he said. “SCCC’s core values – respect for people, lifelong learning, integrity and responsibility, procedural excellence – these resonate with me,” Jones said.