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Interim Deans Prepare for Fall Semester

BY VIANEY LOZOYA - This summer, El Paso Community College welcomed two new interim deans as the previous deans bid farewell to their roles to start a new chapter in their lives.

The role of Interim Dean consists of supporting the transition between the past and the new dean. They are responsible for supporting, serving, and maintaining the success of each campus. Dr. Rebecca Escamilla will be taking the role of interim Dean for Arts, Communication & Social Sciences at the Transmountain Campus, while Brian Kirby will be taking the part of Interim Dean for the Arts, Communications, and Social Sciences Division at the Rio Grande Campus.

Escamilla knew since she was little that she had a love for Biology and the desire to help people. These two things lead her to the place she is now. “When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Biology, I decided the best way to combine my two loves was to be an instructor at El Paso Community College. I wanted to help future students reach their full personal, academic, and career potential. I also hoped to inspire them into STEM fields. I wanted students to love Biology as much as I did. It was the decision to become an EPCC instructor that led me back to school to pursue a Doctorate degree in Biology,” said Escamilla.

Dr. Rebecca Escamilla will be taking the role of

interim Dean for Arts, Communication & Social Sciences at the Transmountain campus.

Many are the people who have had an enormous influence in her life to become the best version of herself, her family being one of her top supporters. “One of my strongest influences in life have been my parents. My parents were big proponents of education. They pushed us to work hard in school because they knew education would allow me to be successful in life and help me to care for myself and my future family (husband, kids) without having to depend on anyone.

“Several of my EPCC colleagues have also been some of my strongest influencers. Each one has been inspiring to me with their unique way of showing me what it means to be a great leader at the College. Collectively, they have made me the person I am today,” Escamilla added.

Even as Escamilla had a support system, she also encountered some obstacles in her path. “While I was in school pursuing my doctorate degree, I was also a single mom with three young children. I was pretty busy juggling school, parenthood and work. I did not make that much money, so we did not live in the best apartments, have the best car, or enough money for food. There were times that things became so difficult, I wanted to quit school. But I also knew I wanted to make a better life for my children and be able to provide anything they needed without depending on anyone. I also knew I needed to set a good example for my children, and not give them a reason to quit anything in life. It was my children that helped me reach my goal. I was able to graduate from UTEP with my Doctorate in Biology, and attain a tenure-track position at EPCC. This was the accomplishment I am most proud of – reaching my goal while doing everything I could as a mom for my three beautiful children whom I am extremely proud of today!” she exclaimed.

Escamilla outlined her vision as Interim Dean for the Transmountain Campus. “There are so many wonderful initiatives, programs, and activities already going on at the College and TM campus. My vision as Interim Dean at TM for EPCC is to continue the many wonderful things going on at the campus and at the College. My goal is to support any programs, activities, or initiatives already in place that support and benefit students.

“But I would also like to help implement any high-impact processes and practices not currently in place at the TM campus and the College, that will have a positive impact on student success. I aim to be of service and support the faculty and staff with the resources needed that assist them in helping their students. I hope that they feel like they can come to me for anything and that I will do my best to support them, keeping the best interests of the students, campus, and College in mind. I will also ensure the continued beautification of the Campus that adds to the unique character of the TM campus environment – inside and out,” Escamilla concluded.

Brian Kirby is a New Mexico State University graduate who has found his place in the EPCC community. His achievements in life and the path he chose to walk are thanks to the significant influence of the people in his life. With special gratitude, Kirby remembers them.

“When I was at NMSU, I had a professor who taught me how to be a college student. His name is Kevin McIlvoy and his influence is unknowingly experienced by the students who have been in my classes. He may not know it either, but he taught me how to work with students. The dean who is retiring and who I will replace on an interim basis, Dr. Eileen Conklin, has been a tremendous influence. She taught me about how to work and meet expectations. Collaborating with her over these last weeks and learning about the dean's role and responsibilities has been a whirlwind in the best of ways. And, of course, there are many current colleagues and administrators who have been great to work with and who have influenced my professional life in profound ways: Margie Nelson Rodriguez, Jorge Gomez, Steve Smith, Blayne Primozich, and Rebecca Escamilla.”

Brian Kirby will be taking the part of Interim Dean for the Arts, Communications, and Social Sciences Division at the Rio Grande campus.

Kirby’s accomplishments reflect his determination to succeed at EPCC. “First, it wouldn't be fully accurate to label the accomplishments as “mine” because what I'm most proud of that’s been accomplished has been done so collaboratively. Working and collaborating with students and witnessing their growth has been amazing. It’s inspiring to read or hear about students who have graduated from EPCC, or transferred and earned their four-year degrees, and are moving on to grad school or pursuing an MD.

The work with the Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP has also been extremely gratifying, and witnessing the exceptional projects accomplished by our students and colleagues has been a terrific experience. The talent on the border is undeniable, and I'm proud to be a part in any way that I can,” he added.

Kirby’s vision for the Rio Grande Campus includes continuing collaboration and more. “I plan to collaborate and learn as much as humanly possible from everyone in Rio Grande's division of Arts, Communications, Career and Technical Education, and Social Sciences. And I plan to learn from the entire RG Campus community and the amazing people who serve Rio Grande: the administrative associates, the faculty, student support services, Counseling, the ISC, Allied Health, Nursing, the Reading Lab and Writing Center, and, of course, our students. I hope I can take what I learn during this interim period and build on the great work that was established under Dr. Conklin's leadership,” Kirby said.

According to Vice President Steven Smith, the timeline for hiring a full-time dean for both campuses is this fall. “The current timeline calls for advertising for the position as soon as faculty come back in the fall semester. Interviews and final selection should occur before the end of the fall semester, with the selected individual assuming the Dean role at the start of the spring semester. The same timeline holds true for the Dean vacancy at our RG campus,” Smith said.

Hiring full-time deans is of extreme importance for the faculty and students, according to Smith, because deans work closely with staff and program coordinators to develop class schedules that affect enrollments and which classes are offered. Deans are also a source of information for the EPCC community and are responsible for handling student petitions and requests.

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