Stone sees top academic post as another chance to give back to TCC

Meet the finalists

Note: The TCC Connection is reporting on open forums featuring the four finalists for the Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer position. One forum will be held each day April 27-30. This story will be regularly updated on the TCC Connection website.

After coming of age as a student, then instructor, then administrator at Tulsa Community College, Dr. Greg Stone wants to continue giving back to TCC as the college’s top academic officer.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without Tulsa Community College in any number of ways, and I have always felt a great debt to the institution. I’m not through paying back that debt, and I can’t think of a better way to continue paying that debt back, and helping other students learn, than by serving as its chief academic officer. I care about teaching and learning. That’s what I’ve devoted the last nearly 20 years of my life to. There’s nothing better than getting to do the work that we do and to serve the community and the students that we serve,” said Stone.

Stone took questions during an open forum via Zoom on April 27.

Stone is one of two internal candidates named as a finalist. The other familiar face is Dr. Angela Sivadon, provost of the Metro Campus. External finalists are Dr. Sharon Warren Cook, associate provost/assistant vice president for Academic Affairs from City University of New York-Kingsborough College, and Dr. Deanna Romano, most recently employed as vice president for Academic Affairs at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

The candidate selected will replace Dr. Cindy Hess, who is retiring Aug. 1.

A former journalist and TCC English professor whose connections to TCC go back to the mid-90s, Stone dropped a lot of names and shared several stories from his years at TCC.

One story stands out from his days as Metro provost when the bookstore experienced a brief inventory crisis at a crucial time. Stone worked alongside bookstore staff to ensure that all students received books for their classes.

“I don’t like asking people to do things that I’m not willing to do myself,” Stone recalled. “I spent the better part of three days that week working myself in the store, unpacking boxes of books, helping students, take information, developing systems for how we could notify them when (their) books came in. … I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and do the work. Obviously, it’s difficult to do that on a regular basis when you’re responsible for a large area at an institution. But as the provost of my campus, that was certainly the most critical thing going on on campus and there was not a better place for me to be than in the thick of it.”

Speaking of books, Stone said he strives to listen and lead with transparency.

“I’m pretty much an open book,” he said, “I’m not afraid to answer any question. I’m not afraid to have any conversation. I work very hard to build a culture of trust and respect. Not that I need respect from people, but that I give respect to people and that I make people feel respected. Because that’s when people do their best.”

Dr. Greg Stone (bottom center of screen) answers questions during an open forum on Zoom held Monday. Also pictured are interpreter Leah Owens (top left) and forum moderator Professor Kirk Brewer.

Stone fielded questions for over one hour on various topics from moderator Dr. Kirk Brewer, associate professor in Liberal Arts and Communication and past president of the Faculty Association.

Asked how he would address equity gaps in learning at TCC, Stone vowed to continue to work to improve and expand support services, like tutoring centers and success coaches. He had cited his previous work to build up programming at the Writing Centers.

He said it is important to listen to students, and be receptive to their needs. He added that listening extends to faculty and noted plans to continue attending meetings of the Faculty Association and Academic Affairs Council, agreeing with Brewer that “management by walking around campus” is a good leadership style.

Regarding diversity and inclusion, Stone said he tried to be a champion for those issues and seek to appoint more “equity champions” to key roles, like search committees.

The college should continue to mindfully craft job postings with an eye to inclusivity and diversity, and proactively advertise positions to key organizations. He expressed pride in TCC’s commitment to being a leader in recruiting LGBTQ students to the college.

Amid discussion of technology and remote learning, Stone said he wants TCC to expand its offering of online programs. He said several departments could bring more programs fully online with just a little more work.

Bringing more programs online will help meet existing demand for remote learning, make TCC more attractive to students out of state, and help pivot more easily to online learning in the case of another major crisis like the pandemic or weather disaster.

The key to this expansion is professional development and creativity.

Asked about how he would support faculty as chief academic officer, Stone said he would build on Dr. Hess’s work on efforts like creating the Engaged Learning division. “Let’s take it to the next level” by adding more support and training in new technologies, he said.

He sees work to do in developing adjunct teaching expertise through a system of classroom observation and development with online faculty mentors. He stressed that he wants to dialogue with faculty about what they need.

“I think it’s just more about communication of what those needs are and not making assumptions that we know what they need to do their best work,” he said.

Stone earned an associate degree in journalism from TCC and worked as editor at the Sapulpa Daily Herald. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Northeastern Oklahoma State University, before completing his Ph.D. in English from the University of Tulsa.

He has been an adjunct and full-time professor at TCC, then provost at the Metro Campus, and is currently serving as the provost at the Southeast Campus.

For other finalist profiles, see below:

Dr. Sharon Warren Cook

Dr. Deanna Romano

Dr. Angela Sivadon

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