Retirements at KPC loss to community as well as campus life

Posted: Friday, April 05, 2002

Add change to that short list of things which are certain.

Kenai Peninsula College currently is in change mode.

Several faces familiar not only to the college, but also an integral part of life on the peninsula, are retiring this year.

Among them are Ginger Steffy, KPC's director, who has been with the college for 30 years. The search currently is on for a new director. A pool of 40 applicants has been narrowed to four finalists with interviews with all finalists scheduled for this month. Each applicant will visit the Soldotna and Homer campuses, and open meetings with faculty, staff and students, as well as receptions with community members, have been scheduled.

It's an important time in the life of the college and in the lives of those considering the new position: Gary Turner, Richard Swanson, Paul Dauphinais and Peggy Poling.

We wish all the candidates well. Although it's a small campus, KPC plays a big role in the community. The college not only provides book learning, but it also offers practical education, as well as recreational, cultural and social outlets to the entire community in a variety of programs.

Over the years, one of its goals has been to provide the training needed for jobs available on the peninsula. That's just one of many ways the college has partnered with the community to make its programs relevant. While it traditionally has catered to nontraditional, older students, the number of younger students at the college is increasing. Except for a lack of housing, KPC is ideally suited to reach out to students in outlying areas of Alaska who are seeking to further their education, but who don't relish the idea of having to go to a big city to do it.

KPC's new director will face lots of challenges, not the least of which is the state's money woes. A great foundation, however, exists for the college to continue to grow -- and change -- to meet the needs of the community and its students.

Along with Steffy, others retiring from KPC this year include Boyd Shaffer, known for his inexhaustible knowledge of everything natural in Alaska, who started teaching art and natural science at the college in 1966; Gary Freeburg, the director of KPC's art gallery, who has spent the last 20 years teaching art and art history; and Jim Morrison, a counselor, who been a staple of KPC's student services for 27 years.

Those leaving will be missed. In their willingness to share their passion in their fields of expertise, they've made the community a better place. We thank them all and wish them well as they embark on new adventures.

When someone leaves a position, that person is never replaced. Each individual fills a unique niche, bringing particular strengths to an organization. That an organization survives their leaving is evidence that they have done their jobs well. Those leaving KPC have set excellent standards. Those who come behind them will have a good path to follow while still being able to make their own mark.

A reception honoring KPC retirees has been scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the Brockel Building at the college. We encourage the community to go and express their thanks for a job well done.

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