New College created; seven faculty depart; hiring continues
Students at North Central this semester have seen some changes to the faculty from last year; Some members left, new members were added, a new college was created, and two long-standing faculty members were promoted to dean positions.
On June 1, 2018, Assistant Professor of English Desiree Libengood was promoted to dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The former dean, Professor of Psychology Ronald Jewett, retired.
Also in the summer, the School of Business branched out of the College of Arts and Sciences and became The College of Business and Technology. Professor of Business William Tibbetts was promoted from director of the school to dean of the newly founded college.
Both dean positions were open to internal candidates. Tibbetts has overseen a large expansion in the business program during his 11 years of teaching. Libengood has taught at North Central for eight years, and she said she was approached by a few of her closest colleagues to apply for the Arts and Sciences dean position.
“I felt the Lord nudging me in that direction, so I decided to see where this takes me,” said Libengood, who recently finished her doctorate of education in higher education leadership and administration.
For now, she does not plan to change anything in the college. Instead, she wants to keep an atmosphere of “continued growth.” This continued growth is something she had to implement early on as four faculty members resigned at the end of spring 2018 and in the summer: Assistant Professor of Science Sam Currier, Assistant Professor of Psychology Chaka Ward-Hatcher, Associate Professor of ASL Bill Ross, and Director of the School of Education Connie Gayle.
Some hiring was already in the works from spring 2018. An open communication arts professor position that had been open was filled—Associate Professor Aaron McKain came on board before this semester started to help launch the new digital media major. And Andrew Scuttinga was hired as an assistant professor of psychology to fill professor Jewett’s teaching position.
Libengood hired ASL interpreter and adjunct professor Sydney Groven as a full-time instructor to cover for associate professor Ross, but the other positions were covered by adjuncts. Currently, two full-time faculty positions are posted; one for biology and one for psychology.
“It’s always sad to lose great faculty, but I always wish people well in their next endeavor and see it as an opportunity to open our doors to see who God has next for us,” Libengood said.
The professors may have left North Central, but most continue to teach elsewhere. Currier is now teaching at Anoka Technical College. Gayle took an executive director position at Aspen Academy in Savage, Minnesota. Ross is now a curriculum director for Deaf Bible Society, an organization headquartered in Arlington, Texas. Ward-Hatcher took a faculty position at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.
In the College of Church Leadership, a longtime professor, Buzz Brookman, officially retired from the college after 40 years of teaching, but still remains adjunct faculty by teaching online from his home in Florida. However, Assistant Professor of Youth Development Anna Young didn’t return for fall 2018, as the youth development program was cut due to low enrollment, according to Mekeyah Martin, admin for the college.
The recently established College of Graduate and Professional Education hired Richard Pruitt as an assistant professor to aid in the growth of graduate studies.
In the College of Fine Arts, recording artist Ellington Porter joined as an assistant professor. He has been recording gospel tracks with his brother, Tecoy, and their church choir for years. The duo are both pastors at Genesis church in Sacramento, California. The group is known as The Porter Brothers & Genesis.
The new College of Business and Technology found themselves in a tight spot when Associate Professor of Computer Science Sheri Hutchinson left. Just before classes began, she was hired as the academic planning director for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
Tibbetts quickly hired former adjunct professor Jack Pope to fill in this fall and created a posting for a full-time position. While the computer science major has struggled to maintain a full-time faculty member, students continue to enroll. Meanwhile, Tibbetts has decided to dissolve the computer information systems (CIS) major and replace it with a management information systems (MIS) major.
According to Tibbetts, switching the degrees is a benefit because more companies are looking for MIS degrees rather than CIS degrees. It also allows North Central to compete with other Christian colleges such as Bethel and Northwestern.
Tibbetts said he has more plans for the program to grow. Being dean allows him to provide more leadership and direction for the areas he previously oversaw as director.
“It is an incredible honor,” said Tibbetts. “Personally, I have never pursued titles of any kind. That is rooted from early in my twenties, [when I was] building a strong identity in Christ.”