SPAC
Service Professional Spotlight

 

Kathy Yeager, Distance Learning Area Coordinator

 

Photo of Kathy Yaeger
Kathy Yeager

First and foremost, Kathy Yeager represents Northern Arizona University.  As an Area Coordinator for Distance Learning on the campuses of Scottsdale Community College and Paradise Valley Community College, Kathy works to share the message that NAU is serving the greater Phoenix area.

“We do a lot of outreach,” says Kathy.  “People think that Distance Learning is just online programs.  We are constantly talking about NAU’s physical presence in Maricopa County, just sharing that we have face-to-face programs, too.  People are always surprised when they realize what we offer.” 

With more than 550 students eligible to enroll for the spring semester at the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley sites, it is clear that outreach efforts have been effective.  Undergraduate programs in interior design, hotel and restaurant management, and business administration are especially popular at these sites, while graduate enrollment is strongest in educational leadership programs emphasizing K-12 and community college administration.

Representing NAU away from the Mountain Campus requires a broad and varied workload.  Area Coordinators develop the class schedules for onsite programs in Distance Learning, so Kathy is busy identifying prospective faculty, communicating with academic department chairs in Flagstaff, negotiating for off-campus classroom space, and recruiting new student cohorts.  Area Coordinators are also involved in the development of new program offerings around the state.  This fall Kathy has worked on plans to deliver the B.S., Early Childhood at Scottsdale Community College and to extend the B.S., Interior Design, already offered in Scottsdale, to students at Paradise Valley Community College.  In both cases, articulated transfer agreements were developed with the Maricopa County Community College District, and full-time, “anchor” faculty were hired to support the local programs. 

Another exciting project is in the works for NAU-Scottsdale.  The University has secured an existing building on the community college campus, which will provide greater visibility for NAU and allow for more centralized operations.  An architect is currently developing plans to redesign the facility for NAU’s administrative and instructional use, and, as Area Coordinator, Kathy will have input throughout the renovation process.  She does not have a background or training in office design, but Kathy laughs in pointing out, “Well, I’ve moved a lot of furniture in this job.”  She tells a story about trying to make the best of an office filled with bulky, modular furniture that was showing its age.  “We learned how to reupholster,” she explains.  “We just went to Joann’s Fabrics and figured out how to make it work.”  With limited resources away from the Flagstaff Campus, Kathy says, “We do it all.  We just do what we need to do.” 

Kathy splits her time between Scottsdale Community College and Paradise Valley Community College, so her workload is sometimes complicated by attending to issues at two sites.  She supervises five full-time and two part-time staff between the two locations, and she checks in regularly with administrators and student service personnel at both colleges.  In building relationships with community college partners, Kathy says, NAU needs to be visible.  “We want to be part of the campus,” she explains.  Kathy and her staff attend meetings with community college partners, volunteer to assist with campus events, and look for opportunities for joint marketing and recruiting.  Kathy also coordinates an annual training luncheon for community college personnel and distributes a monthly e-newsletter with updates on courses and programs, university schedules and deadlines, and changes in NAU personnel or local operations.

And, of course, the outreach efforts continue.  Every Friday, NAU staff members canvass the region to share information about NAU Distance Learning, dropping off promotional materials anywhere that people might gather or pass by.  They visit schools and community centers, hospitals and dentist offices, Chambers of Commerce and even Wal-Marts, distributing brochures and telling anyone who will listen that, yes, Northern Arizona University is in the Valley and around the state, offering more than one hundred degree and certificate programs to students outside Flagstaff.

The work of an Area Coordinator is demanding, but Kathy Yeager says it is the best job she’s ever had.  Having earned her own degrees through Scottsdale Community College and NAU Distance Learning, Kathy relates to students who want to pursue their education close to home.  Her own professional commitments, she says, are perfectly aligned with the culture of Northern Arizona University and its mission for off-campus programs.  “We are student centered,” she says.  “Our motivation is service to students, and we’re getting great feedback from our students on what we do.”

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