Rachel Pokrandt, currently the campus dean for Colorado Mountain College in Rifle, will provide interim campus leadership in Leadville and Chaffee County, effective Aug. 1, 2016. This summer she is transitioning into that interim position following the departure of the previous campus vice president, James Y. Taylor, who has accepted a position with Utah State University. Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, CMC president and CEO, is also spending additional time at both locations in June and July.
Also effective Aug. 1, and during the period that Pokrandt serves as interim campus leader in Lake and Chaffee counties, Richard Maestas, who is currently western regional vice president for the college, will assume the interim dean role at the Rifle campus.
“By temporarily moving these two experienced, respected managers into interim roles, we give several ad-hoc committees the ability to continue their work to refine our academic structure college-wide and to define what is needed to give the best possible support for our locations in transition,” said President Hauser. “Once we have clarity on those fronts, I can make a more informed and thoughtful decision about the future leadership of our campuses in Leadville and Chaffee County.”
Before being named campus dean in Rifle, Pokrandt was an instructional dean at Front Range Community College after a 10-year career in the nonprofit sector working on educational programs with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, DuPont and Dow Chemical. Pokrandt has trained over 5,000 teachers and nonprofit staffers in the U.S., Ireland, England, India, Bangladesh, Germany and Puerto Rico.
Pokrandt has a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies and British literature from Manchester University, U.K.; a Master of Business Administration from Western Governor’s University; and a graduate certificate in sustainability from Harvard University, and is scheduled to receive her doctorate in management from University of Switzerland, Zurich in the winter of 2016.
This year at the Rifle campus, she introduced a novel program called Career Academy and enhanced concurrent enrollment options. The local school district had gone to a four-day school week because of budget cuts, and Pokrandt and her staff created a program of concurrent enrollment courses on days the K-12 schools were not in session. As a result, this year 65 high school students in west Garfield County earned certificates in such areas as nurse aide, culinary, welding and early childhood education, bumping up the campus’s graduation numbers to record levels.
Career built in higher education, concurrent enrollment
During the summer of 2015, Maestas was named regional vice president overseeing the college’s western region. Maestas’ territory has included the college’s five locations in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, where he has worked with campus deans and administrators in Aspen, Carbondale, Spring Valley, Glenwood Springs and Rifle. Before joining Colorado Mountain College he was vice president for administration and chief financial officer for the Community College of Aurora in Aurora, Colo.
Maestas received his MBA from Colorado State University in Pueblo, and has held positions at more than half a dozen higher education institutions, from Colorado College in Colorado Springs to the Colorado Community College System in Denver. Additionally, he was appointed by then Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to serve on the state’s Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee.
“This arrangement will provide Richard an opportunity to dig even deeper into the connections of west Garfield County within the context of the Western Region (Aspen to Rifle) operational model,” added Hauser. “Richard will also provide expertise in facilities and budget as well as supporting the campus in the community, on boards and at community events. He will assume seats on the team of the Colorado State Center for Excellence in Aerial Firefighting, the board of Garfield Clean Energy and the board of the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corporation.
“I am most grateful to both Rachel and Richard for stepping up to assist the college during this transition,” said Hauser. “It is a wonderful statement about our institution that we have such talented and capable individuals to call upon when a gap in leadership occurs at another location.”